The Green Party has reacted strongly to new developments affecting sick and disabled people which it says amount to a three pronged attack that will drive thousands into greater hardship and poverty:
1. Internal government documents seen by the BBC suggest that the government is considering cutting Employment and Support Allowance by almost £30 per week. (1)
2. It has emerged that thousands of people with degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis are having their benefits slashed because the Department for Work and Pensions believes that they will recover enough to work. (2).
3 Another controversial American company Maximus is taking over the contract to assess the fitness of benefits claimants to work, the BBC understands, replacing French firm Atos, who quit the contract in March. (3)
The Green Party’s Work and Pensions spokesperson Jonathan Bartley said: “The Government is turning the screw even more tightly on the sick and disabled. Cutting benefits for sick and disabled people, who have already been disproportionately targeted and are already more likely to be living in poverty, is completely unacceptable. (4).
“The Work Capability Assessment has proved a very expensive disaster in both financial and human terms. It must be abolished and replaced with a system that truly reflects the needs and aspirations of sick and disabled people. Those who cannot work must receive the support they need.
“It is unnecessary to pay hundreds of millions of pounds to private companies like Atos and Maximus, when sick and disabled people, and their own NHS doctors, can tell us what they need. Public services should be run for the common good, not private profit. Maximus has already been embroiled in controversy (5) and should not be involved in crucial decisions as to what support will be offered to sick and disabled people in the UK.”
(1) This would affect those in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG)
(4) Disability charity Scope recently reported that ‘disabled people are twice as likely to live below the poverty line as non-disabled people’ and face considerably higher living costs. http://www.scope.org.uk/support/disabled-people/money