Inclusion London’s response to waiting days consultation
Inclusion London has responded to the Social Security Advisory Committee’s consultation on the government’s proposal to increase the number of waiting days for Jobseekers Allowance and Employment Support Allowance.
The Government proposes that the number of waiting days for Jobseekers Allowance and Employment Support Allowance is increased from 3 days to 7 days from 27 October 2014. Currently all JSA and ESA benefit claimants serve three waiting days. The waiting days increase will apply to both Income-based and Contribution-based benefits. The rules on exemptions are not changing, so those on Income Support, ESA, Incapacity Benefit, or Carer’s Allowance (CA) within the twelve weeks of the current claim continue to be exempt.
The consultation documents say that the number of new claimants likely to be ‘most at risk of suffering financial hardship are around 245,000 in JSA and 35,000 in ESA’ and the Equality impact assessment acknowledges that disabled people claiming will be affected by the proposed increase in waiting times for ESA. The documents also say that the aim of the policy is ‘to discourage people from claiming benefit when they only have a short gap between jobs or a short period of sickness’.
The Government claims very boldly that ‘Many people affected by this measure will be coming to benefits from relatively well paid jobs’.
We would like to see the research that backs this statement, as the report by Paul Sissons, said; ‘The large-scale job losses in the recession were in routine manual and non-manual occupations’
Inclusion London’s response highlights the experience of disabled people who have already been hit by the inaccurate WCA, unfairly implemented JSA/ESA sanctions and failed by the back to work programmes and have been falsely accused of being benefit scroungers. Also disabled people have been disproportionally affected by the government’s austerity measures as a result many disabled people are already living in poverty struggling to pay essential rental, food and fuel bills. While the loss of £40 to £50 may sound insignificant, for those disabled people already in debt it will act as additional burden, which together the loss of benefit due to sanctions or delays will tip disabled people further into debt and possible homelessness.
The full response is available to download below.