The welfare struggle goes on, says Mind

By staff writers
2 Feb 2012

Mental health charity Mind says that it "will continue to fight for improvements to the welfare and benefits system", despite the Welfare Reform Bill vote in the House of Commons on 1 February 2012.

The message was echoed by thousands of people on social networking sites this morning, as questions were also raised about the legality of government cuts to essential provision for sick, disabled and vulnerable people.

There is also anger in the House of Lords at the government's use of 'financial privilege' to deny the second chamber its constitutional revising role, and at other "sleights of hand" as one critic put it - referring back to Lord Freud's earlier attempt to use a procedural motion to overthrow the will of the House, which has voted an unprecedented seven times against the government on the WRB.

Despite the enormous campaigning efforts of people across the disability world, MPs have now voted to overturn the House of Lords' amendments to extend the time limit on contributory Employment & Support Allowance to two years.

332 MPs voted in favour of keeping the time limit to one year, beating the 266 who voted against by 66 votes.

MPs also overturned six other amendments made by the Lords, reinstating plans to cap the amount of benefits a person can receive to £26,000 annually, and preventing young disabled people who have never worked from claiming ESA.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, commented: "We are bitterly disappointed that the House of Commons has chosen to implement this arbitrary one year time limit."

He continued: "The Government’s own figures clearly show that the vast majority of people on Employment and Support Allowance need the help to remain in place for more than a year."

"Forcing someone with a mental health problem to look for work before he or she is well enough to do so risks seriously undermining their recovery, and could even make them more unwell," said Mr Farmer.

"This is a short-sighted move which could in the long run incur huge health and social care bill, and we urge the Government to reconsider," he said.

"Mind will continue to fight for improvements to the welfare and benefits system, and to the Welfare Reform Bill in particular," the Mind Chief Executive concluded.

The charity also thaned the 467 people who used its cyber-facilities to urge their MPs to support the Lords’ amendments.

* Mind: for better mental health - http://www.mind.org.uk/

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