Employment and Support Allowance

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Government's proposed cuts to financial support for new claimants in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

People recovering from or being treated for cancer and other long-term conditions need additional support at this very difficult time. They should not be faced with the extra stress of worrying whether they can pay their bills so I share your concern about the Government's proposed changes to WRAG, which would see the level of support for new claimants in WRAG cut by around £30 a week from April 2017. I oppose this unfair and unjust measure, as it will hurt vulnerable people who are suffering from serious illnesses and are in and out of work intermittently.

I know that a number of charities and disability groups have expressed serious concern about this proposal, including Macmillan Cancer Support who state that thousands of people will see a significant drop in support at some point during their cancer journey. Macmillan have also published research which stated that 10% of those surveyed living with cancer said they would be unable, or would struggle, to pay their rent or mortgage if they lost £30 a week. I share Macmillan's concerns and fear that a reduction in the level of support cancer patients receive could be detrimental to their wellbeing.

I am pleased the Government was defeated in the House of Lords over these plans and can assure you I will continue to oppose them when the Bill returns to the House of Commons.

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Catherine West

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