Martin Docherty-Hughes MP has criticised the Tory UK Government for the introduction of devastating benefit cuts for sick and disabled people.

From 1 April 2017, new claimants for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – which offers support to people unable to work due to illness and disability – have had their benefits cut by £30 per week.

The SNP MP has said that these cuts will cause severe financial hardship for the most vulnerable in West Dunbartonshire and called on the UK Government to make good on its promise to introduce a support package to help disabled people meet the additional costs of disability.

Commenting, SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes said:

“The Tory Government has decided to press ahead with these cruel welfare cuts despite strong opposition from MPs, Lords and third sector organisations representing disabled people.

“The Tory party’s misguided justification for these cuts is that they will somehow help more disabled people into employment. The truth is that no evidence exists for the claim that reducing benefit payments actually helps people into work.

“What we do know is that people with chronic illnesses and disabilities face significant barriers to finding employment and are much more likely to be living in poverty. These ESA reductions are counterproductive and risk exacerbating ill health and pushing disabled people further from the workforce.

“Here in West Dunbartonshire, more than half of local residents living with a disability are unemployed. At a time of rising food prices and inflation due to Brexit, these cuts will put a further financial burden on the most vulnerable people in society.

“The UK Government must recognise that this is no way to treat its citizens and act urgently to ensure that adequate support is delivered for sick and disabled people when they are unable to work.”