Letter to Nick Clegg on the Welfare Reform Bill

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

Dear Nick

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.

Signed by

Name Constituency
Sue Doughty Guildford
Stephen Glenn Linlithgow and Falkirk East
Mike Collins The Cotswolds
Andrew Falconer Runnymede & Weybridge
Frank Little Neath
Philip Eades Poole
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
Rob Hylands Gosport
Adrian Collett Aldershot
David Hall-Matthews Bradford West
David Ord North Tyneside
Andrew Simpson Northampton North
Simon McDougall Bognor Regis
Peter Reisdorf Wirral West
Paul Brighton Flintshire
Linda Jack Mid Beds
Denzil Coulson N E Hants
Mark Chapman Spelthorne
Qassim Afzal Manchester Gorton
Margaret Phelps Witham
Merlene Emerson Hammersmith
Layla Moran Battersea
Stephen Lambert Aylesbury Vale
Dave Raval Hackney South and Shoreditch
Chris Took Ashford
Richard Grayson Hemel Hempstead
Dr Wendy Taylor Newcastle East
Nigel Jones  Newcastle Under Lyme
Dr Juliet Williams Brighton Kemptown
David Rendel Newbury
Dr Charles West Shrewsbury & Atcham
Prue Bray Wokingham
Nasser Butt Tooting
Philip Eades Poole
James Sandbach Putney
Daisy Cooper Suffolk Coastal
Michael Beckett Dudley North
Shas Sheehan Wimbledon & GLA candidate
Belinda Brooks-Gordon Suffolk West
Pauline Jenkins Newark
Chris Bowers Wealden
Martin Pearce West Ham
Chris Tucker Slough
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

Posted in blog archive, Uncategorized
4 comments on “Letter to Nick Clegg on the Welfare Reform Bill
  1. Bernard Woolley says:

    This is very admirable; however, I notice one glaring omission – there is no mention of the plans to scrap DLA! Are these Liberal Democrats ‘okay’ with making some of the most vulnerable people in our society pay for the economic mess caused by millionaire bankers?

    For the uninformed, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is not an out-of-work benefit; but a benefit to assist those with disabilities with very day life – in fact many disabled people in receipt of DLA use it to assist them with staying in employment.

    The Welfare Reform Bill will see this scrapped and replaced with a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Here’s where it gets nasty – PIP’s main purpose is to reduce the money spent on people with disabilities; PIP will have a reduced budget (20%) compared to DLA, and will be harder to qualify for meaning many of those currency on DLA will not qualify for PIP.

    Most worryingly, no major Lib Dem has condemned the cut; choosing instead to speak up against the benefit cap – this includes Liberal Democrat legend Paddy Ashdown! This leaves me wondering whether I am the only one to have read and agreed with the preamble to the constitution.

  2. Grammar Police says:

    Why is there no mention of the means test here? I appreciate this change may not be a good thing, but you make it sound like all disabled people who can’t return to work would be penalised, they would not, even though substantial numbers would.

    You spend most time talking about contributory ESA, and yet the Lords amendment on that is very definitely not our policy, even if it’s better than the alternative.

  3. Valerie T says:

    Grammar Police, you’re not entitled to income-related ESA if your partner earns over £7,500 a year. That’s a pretty low threshold.

    I don’t think it matters if the two-year time limit isn’t our policy. It’s a decent compromise, and is more in the spirit of our policy than is the government’s proposal.

    Bernard – as I understand it, there’s more scope to influence DLA reform as the secondary legislation on the PIP passes through (the government made concessions on this in the Lords). But we need to stay vigilant.

  4. Neil Sandison says:

    Millions of people in this country have a form of tenure be it a mortgage,lease,or rent
    I am appalled our party is letting the tories under pay housing benifit because some one has a spare bedroom and lives in a council house .We do not have sufficeint capacity in our housing stock to meet any migration to smaller housing units .Sometimes there are health reasons why a person may have a relative stop over or in terms of family well being where some one has shared access to a child from a previous relationship and that child stays over at weekends .It can also be the case that grandchildren or neices and nephews stop over in the spare bedroom so that carers can get occassional respite
    and private time in their relationship from a demanding butr unwell child.Why are we allowing these families to be treated as second class citizens in their own home.

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