57 leading Liberal Democrats have signed a letter to Nick Clegg, which is reproduced below.
Read the Guardian article about this: Welfare reform: Lib Dems urge Nick Clegg to back Lords amendments
As you are aware the House of Lords voted in favour of 3 amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill, protecting important benefits for sick and disabled people.
The amendments, regarding contributory Employment and Support Allowance (cESA), were:
• The amount of time a person can receive cESA will be extended to at least 24 months, instead of the Government’s proposed 12 month limit.
• Cancer patients will be exempted from the time limit.
• The ‘youth provision’ of the benefit will be protected, meaning that young disabled people who cannot work will still be entitled to cESA without having made National Insurance contributions.
The amendments were passed with significant majorities, but they must still be approved by the House of Commons.
Contributory Employment and Support Allowance is a benefit given to people who have had to stop work due to ill health or disability, but who are well enough to return to work at some point. It is only given to those who have paid sufficient National Insurance Contributions during their working life.
Some disabled people will be able to return to work, but many will need more time and support to do so. The Department for Work and Pensions estimate that 94 per cent of disabled people will take longer than a year to find work. This means that many who remain unemployed after these 12 months will lose all benefit support. That would mean that, by 2015/16, 700,000 people would be affected and 280,000 would lose their entire benefit payment – currently £94.25 per week.
We are deeply concerned that the Minister, Chris Grayling, has already indicated he intends the Welfare Reform Bill to pass without the amendments on cESA when the Bill returns to the commons.
At Federal Conference we passed a motion which said we should not have an arbitrary time limit on cESA. Although the amendment extends the current proposal from one to at least two years, we do not believe we should let the best be the enemy of the good.
We, including many who stood as Liberal Democrat candidates at the last election, some who have been selected on the Lib Dem leadership programme, councillors and selected 2012 London candidates believe you and Lib Dem Parliamentarians should uphold party policy and principle and only support the Welfare Reform Bill with the amendments passed in the House of Lords.
|Stephen Glenn||Linlithgow and Falkirk East|
|Mike Collins||The Cotswolds|
|Andrew Falconer||Runnymede & Weybridge|
|Joe Bourke||Dagenham & Rainham|
|Gareth Epps||Reading East|
|Daisy Benson||Reading West|
|Anne Haigh||Epping Forest|
|Margaret Rowley||Mid Worcs|
|Ron Beadle||Newcastle North|
|Naomi Smith||Cities of London and Westminster|
|Nick Perry||Hastings and Rye|
|Mark Blackburn||Westminster North|
|Munira Wilson||Feltham and Heston & GLA candidate|
|David Hall-Matthews||Bradford West|
|David Ord||North Tyneside|
|Andrew Simpson||Northampton North|
|Simon McDougall||Bognor Regis|
|Peter Reisdorf||Wirral West|
|Linda Jack||Mid Beds|
|Denzil Coulson||N E Hants|
|Qassim Afzal||Manchester Gorton|
|Stephen Lambert||Aylesbury Vale|
|Dave Raval||Hackney South and Shoreditch|
|Richard Grayson||Hemel Hempstead|
|Dr Wendy Taylor||Newcastle East|
|Nigel Jones||Newcastle Under Lyme|
|Dr Juliet Williams||Brighton Kemptown|
|Dr Charles West||Shrewsbury & Atcham|
|Daisy Cooper||Suffolk Coastal|
|Michael Beckett||Dudley North|
|Shas Sheehan||Wimbledon & GLA candidate|
|Belinda Brooks-Gordon||Suffolk West|
|Martin Pearce||West Ham|
|Councillor Stephen Knight||GLA Candidate|
|Rebecca Taylor||MEP(as of Feb 2012)|
|David Buxton||Approved candidate|
|Greg Judge||Approved candidate|
|David Carson||Secretary Liberal Democrats Disability Association|