The UK Government has voted to cap annual rises in certain social security benefits and tax credits, including Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), for the next three years.
Benefits have historically risen in line with inflation and, prior to last night’s vote in Parliament, were due to have gone up by 2.2% in April. However following the vote on the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill 2012-13 it is likely that benefits such as ESA will rise by 1% from April 2013.
Defending the decision the coalition government argued that a cap on certain benefits and tax credits is necessary to reduce the national deficit and was fair at a time when public sector pay is being capped. MPs voted by 328 votes to 262 to back the cap.
Commenting on how the cap could affect people claiming ESA, Hafal Chief Executive Bill Walden-Jones said: “Recent reforms to the welfare system have already caused a great amount of distress among our vulnerable clients as new assessment arrangements do not fully address the difficulties in assessing the effects of mental illness.
“This proposed 1% cap means that one of the most vulnerable groups in society will be hit even harder. If last night’s decision is approved by the House of Lords it will mean that over the next three years there will be a significant net decrease in the already tight resources of our vulnerable clients who are claiming ESA. This literally means that they will have less money to spend on essential items for their shopping basket.”
The next stage of the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill 2012-13 will be a House of Commons Committee meeting at a date to be announced.
Other social security benefits and tax credits set to be capped include: Jobseeker’s Allowance; Income Support; Elements of housing benefit; maternity allowance; Sick pay, Maternity pay, Paternity Pay, Adoption Pay; Couple and lone-parent elements of working tax credits and the child element of the child-element tax credit.
For more information on this story please visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20950691
Hafal’s Big Lottery-funded “Short Steps” service helps people with serious mental illness back to work by supporting them through training and education, helping them to get the qualifications they need. For more information please visit: http://www.hafal.org/hafal/shortstepsproject.php.