Letter From Marcus Jones MP: Welfare Reform Bill
Mr Jones is replying to an email I sent him before the big commons vote on the Lords amendments. I think every other MP in the country manages to reply to me before today.
The email contained all the points in this letter to IDS
17th February 2012
Dear Ms Hardy
RE: Welfare Reform Bill
Thank you for contacting mw about the Welfare Reform Bill
I realise that you may be concerned by some elements of this legislation, but I am assured that the Government remains committed to supporting the vulnerable and providing support for all those who need it. However, the Government has also been clear that it does not believe welfare should be a lifestyle choice and there is clear expectation that if people can work, then they should work, even if it is only for a few hours a week.
The one year limit on the length of time people can receive contribution-based Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) is an important measure designed to ensure that people make the journey back towards work. It strikes the right balance between restricting access to contributory benefits and allowing those with longer-term illnesses to adjust to their health condition and surrounding circumstances, and it is double the length of time allowed for contribution based JobSeeker’s Allowance (JSA) in recognition of that fact. Furthermore, the one year time limit is not an arbitrary figure; it is in line with similar limits to other countries around the world including France, Spain and Ireland. It should also be noted that it is only the contributory element of ESA that will be time-limited, not income-related ESA.
In addition to this, the plan to introduce a new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will continue to offer disabled people a non-means-tested cash benefit that people can spend as they choose. It will remain a benefit that is paid to people whether they are in or out of work with the main aim being to support those facing the greatest challenges to living an independent life.
One of the key problems with DLA is that the vast majority of people receive a lifetime award of this benefit and there is no follow up assessment. This has led to the situation where £630m has been overpaid, meanwhile some claimants whose conditions have deteriorated, have not received the full amount that they are entitled to.
The PIP will require people to undergo a face-to-face assessment but, this will ensure that people receive a far more personalised service. Moreover, people will not be required to undergo an annual assessment but will instead be re-assessed after an appropriate time period, based on the nature of their condition. I am informed that the Government also continues to engage with disability organisations over the assessment criteria for PIP to ensure that the assessment process is fair.
Should you have any further queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me again.
Marcus Jones MP
Yes Mr Jones, I do have queries and concerns. Number 1 being that you ignored the majority of my letter and chose the parts you were so obviously briefed on. Number 2, when are you going to learn to think for yourself and stop repeating the party line? Number 3, how on earth am I going to work ‘for a few hours’ with no childcare and the threat of in-work conditionality and sanctions hanging over my head if I don’t earn enough to satisfy your good buddy IDS’ idea of ‘making work pay’. Honestly, get a grip!!