I am pleased that the debate that had taken place on the 17th November was secured by my SNP colleague Neil Gray MP, who has worked tirelessly to draw attention to this issue.
The SNP used this debate to secure cross-party support for a motion to pause the cuts to ESA WRAG until adequate support, as promised by the Tory UK Government, is in place for sick and disabled people. We alongside other political parties called for the Chancellor to press pause on planned cuts to ESA WRAG in the Autumn Statement, until the promised financial support for disabled people in and out of work is delivered. We argued that the UK Government cannot allow the cart to come before the horse and risk pushing sick and disabled people further from work – or worse exacerbating their condition.
My SNP colleagues and I remain opposed to the planned reduction the Employment Support Allowance Work Related Activity Component and the corresponding limited capability for work component in Universal Credit in April 2017. Reducing sick and disabled people’s financial support to the level of those of jobseekers is counterproductive, as those on ESA WRAG will have very low incomes for a long period of time because disabled people are more likely to be out of work for longer periods of time We had hoped that the Theresa May’s Government might chart a different course than those who came before them, however we are disappointed that no action to pause or reverse the ESA WRAG cuts was forthcoming in the Autumn Statement.
The SNP continue to urge the UK Government to at least postpone the cuts to Employment Support Allowance Work Related Activity Component and the corresponding limited capability for work component in Universal Credit until appropriate alternative measures have been considered. The burden of austerity that has fallen on sick and disabled people in recent years has caused severe hardship and pushed many people further away from the workplace. It is vital that additional funding is allocated to deliver an effective system of support under these new proposals. Rest assured, that my SNP colleagues and I will continue to press the UK Government to take effective action to support the sick and disabled, whether they are able to work or if they need out of work support.