New benefit cut could affect thousands of disabled people in Milton Keynes

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A government welfare reform could leave disabled claimants in Milton Keynes ‘severely’ out of pocket.

Almost 2,000 people are set to be hit by the cut of a support allowance which helps those with mental health and other severe disabilities.

A Milton Keynes councillor has warned that 1,480 severely disabled residents will be affected by the changes.

The government has removed the ‘work related activity component’ in Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Claimants in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) will continue to be expected to take part in work related activity and be subject to conditions.

However these people will lose around £30 per week, as the benefit is brought into alignment with Job Seekers’ Allowance rates from April 1.

The largest group to be affected by this, will be those with ‘mental and behavioural disorders’.

People with learning difficulties and people who are neuro-diverse (for example those who suffer with Autistic and Tourette Syndrome) will also be affected by the cut.

In Milton Keynes this suggests 740 people facing mental health and other severe challenges will face the cut.

Councillor Nigel Long said: “These measures will push some of the most severely disabled people in Milton Keynes further in to poverty and hit their quality of life.

“The attack on disabled people will particularly hit those with mental health challenges.
“I have written to the two Tory MPs who voted for these changes to rethink their support for them.”

In the letter, Nigel writes: “The government said they think the cut will incentivise more disabled people in the WRAG to move into employment.

“There is no robust evidence for this assertion, while research has shown that the cut is more likely to move people in the WRAG further from employment.

“At the end of last year, a report was published by the United Nations that found reliable evidence of grave or systematic violations by the UK government of disabled people’s rights due to welfare reform.

“The UK is the first state in the world to be investigated and found guilty of this.”