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Severely Disabled to Suffer Under UK Government Plans

North Ayrshire & Arran SNP MP Patricia Gibson, has pointed to new figures, compiled by the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), which show that Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) proposals to cut the number of people receiving Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by one million would reduce claimant numbers by almost half and require cuts to support for our most severely disabled citizens.

The UK has 2,322,980 ESA recipients. UK Ministers have said that they believe up to one million of these people could be moved into work and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, has said he will focus specifically on those with mental health conditions.

However, less than quarter of a million people with mental and behavioural disorders (10% of claimants) are currently in the Work Related Activity Group – meaning they are considered technically fit to work by the DWP. More than half are deemed to be the most severely disabled and unable to undertake work-related activity.

Commenting, Patricia said:

“This independent assessment shows the shocking extent to which David Cameron’s UK Tory Government is prepared to cut support for disabled people. With full details now emerging, it is no wonder that Mr Duncan Smith chose to set out his vague plans behind closed doors without subjecting them to proper scrutiny.

“That up to one million severely disabled people could lose support – a staggering 43% of those who receive ESA – is beyond belief. Despite Mr Duncan Smith’s crass and stigmatising comments about people with ‘common’ mental health conditions getting back to work – these figures show that people with mental health conditions who are able to work make up only 10% of all claimants. These callous plans need to be shelved and a fairer system put in place that supports people into work rather than penalises them.

“If the UK Government is unable to provide a social security system that treats people with dignity and respect, then they should devolve the welfare powers to the Scottish Parliament and our MSPs will deliver.”

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