Welfare Reform and Work Bill

Peter Dowd (Bootle) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that there is a stark difference between the warm words of the Minister of Community and Social Care earlier on, when he talked about parity of esteem for mental health, and the proposals to penalise people with acute and chronic mental health problems?

Debbie Abrahams: I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. I absolutely agree with him.

What has been hidden so far is that this cut will also affect disabled people who are in low-paid work. Currently, 116,000 disabled people in low-paid work and working more than 16 hours a week receive the disabled workers element of working tax credit—about £60 a week—which they get as a result of being on disability living allowance or personal independence payments. They need that payment to cover the additional costs that they face as a result of work. Under universal credit, the limited capability for work component is the main additional financial support for disabled people in work and is meant to cover those extra costs. However, unlike the disability element of working tax credit, that is available only after working disabled people have been through a work capability assessment. If the Government go ahead and remove UC’s limited capability for work component from working disabled people, the inevitable impact will be disabled people dropping out of the labour market, thereby increasing not reducing the disability employment gap. It will have exactly the opposite effect to the one that the Government say that they want to achieve.

It should be noted that for the 43,000 disabled parents on the disability element of working tax credit, withdrawal of the measure will mean that the family do not receive any extra financial support. The all-party report clearly shows the impact of the measures on child poverty. Children are living in poverty in 40% of families affected by disability. The inquiry found that that would become worse with cuts to ESA WRAG and the limited capability for work component. For those reasons, I urge everyone to support Lords amendment 9, which seeks to remove clause 14 from the Bill.

I have discussed the effects of the measures in the Bill. I have provided evidence for my arguments, as there has been absolutely no impact assessment. We have had to find the evidence to identify the implications of the measures because, to their shame, the Government have done absolutely nothing. I remind the House that the Bill has been introduced on top of many other measures, including the Welfare Reform Act 2012, which imposes £23.8 billion-worth of cuts on 3.7 million disabled people. The independent living fund has been closed, and there is the threat of a further cut of £1.2 billion. Cuts in social care affect disabled people.



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