by New Worker correspondent
SCORES of members and supporters of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) braved the dark, cold, wind and teeming rain last Wednesday evening to gather on Old Palace Yard – just across the road from the Houses of Parliament – to call on MPs to drop plans for further drastic cuts to disability benefits.
The next day, 17th November, the House of Commons passed a cross-party motion to delay and review the proposed implementation of the ESA (employment support allowance) cut of £29-a-week to new claimants of the ESA Work Related Activity Group.
Tory MPs called on the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, to reconsider the cuts ahead of the Autumn Budget Statement, after a backbench motion to pause the planned cuts passed unanimously in the House of Commons.
No MPs voted against the motion to stop the planned cuts to employment and support allowance (ESA) and universal credit, with 127 voting in favour. But the motion is purely symbolic, intended only as a method of sending a message to Government.
During the debate, called by the Scottish National Party’s Neil Gray, MPs across the House called on Hammond to pause a planned £29-a-week cut to ESA, which applies to those not in employment through illness or disability but who have been judged fit to prepare to return to work.
The universal credit cuts will also mean a reduction in the amount people are able to earn before their benefits are withdrawn.
Heidi Allen, the Conservative MP, who has led calls for a rethink on welfare cuts, said she could think of no other issue “so regretted by colleagues on my side of the House”.
This Wednesday’s Autumn Budget Statement will shed light on whether this popular delay will have any real effect on the proposed cuts.