MP Julian Huppert is pushing to make sure people too unwell to work don’t suffer benefit cuts after Conservative Ministers refused to rule out cutting the Employment and Support Allowance.
Julian challenged Work and Pensions Minister, Mark Harper to give assurances that the government would protect the benefit for people who have been assessed as too disabled or too ill to be ready for work.
But although Mr Harper told Parliament yesterday (Monday, November 3) that a news report on the issue “does not reflect government policy”, he failed to rule out any future cuts to the benefit.
Julian asked Mr Harper: “Can he reassure me and others that it will not become Government policy and that he will not consider making cuts in that area? People who are unwell or disabled often face additional costs to those faced by everyone else.”
Fears that the government might act to reduce the benefit comes after it was revealed that the support is likely to cost £8 billion plus over the course of this Parliament, more than originally planned.
And the Office for Budget Responsibility said: “spending would remain higher ….. because of the delays of the work capability assessment programme”.
Later Julian said: “I am determined to make sure that disabled people receiving Employment and Support Allowance get the benefits to which they are entitled. The Work Capability Programme, established by Labour, has caused many problems, and although we have now fired ATOS, who they hired to run it, improvements are still needed.
“It concerns me greatly that Mr Harper failed to rule out any future cuts to these benefits. We’ve managed to block it in Government so far, and I will continue to hold the government to account on this issue. It must not happen.”