Leaked Tory Plan To Scrap Sickness Benefit Would Hit Thousands

A leaked Whitehall paper suggests that plans to scrap part of the UK's main sickness benefit are being considered

According to a leaked paper, the Conservative party plan to scrap part of the Employment and Support Allowance relied upon by thousands of sick and disabled people.

The leaked paper describes the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) as being a passive benefit which does not give people incentive to find a job, and proposes abolishing the work-related activity group (WRAG) category.

Disability charities are worried and have described the leaked information as “deeply concerning”.

If scrapped, weekly payments would drop nearly £30 from £102.15, bringing it in line with Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne are expected to make £12bn in cuts to welfare and next week’s Budget will unveil some of the proposed cuts

The BBC report:

The paper seen by BBC News was written by the Department for Work and Pensions before the general election in May.

It is marked “not government policy”, but the BBC understands the proposals are still under consideration.

About two million people in the UK receive the Employment and Support Allowance, in some form.

It is paid out to disabled or sick people who are unable to work or need help getting back to work.

Among them is Laura Berridge, who has suffered from arthritis for three years and says she needs the extra money because of the costs of her illness.

“All of these small adaptations, the reliance on my car which is huge, the amount of petrol that I get through because I have to use my car – it’s not something that I want to [do], I used to love walking, but I have to have my car now,” she said.

“So, for me, it is entirely justified and to be quite honest, we couldn’t cope without it.”

Currently, people undergo a fit-for-work test to decide how their illness or disability affects their ability to work.

If eligible for the benefit, they are placed in either the WRAG category, and must prepare for employment, or a support group category and are not expected to work.

Those who do not meet the criteria may be given Jobseeker’s Allowance of up to £73.10 a week instead.