Linda Fabiani MSP for East Kilbride, has called on the UK government to urgently rethink its plans to force up to 170,000 sick and disabled Scots in receipt of incapacity benefit to prove that they are not ‘faking it’.
Up to an estimated 115,000 Scots may lost their benefits under UK government plans to move claimants on to the new Employment Support Allowance (ESA), according to a report published today by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).
Linda said “It is incumbent upon any civilised society to look after its people when they fall on hard times through illness. Increasingly the Westminster government is not living up to this basic requirement as more and more people are being robbed of the benefits to which they are legally entitled. This is simply not an acceptable situation in 2012.
“This report, ‘From Pillar to Post’, clearly demonstrates the damage that will be done to both vulnerable individuals and communities by forcing those least able to work onto Job Seekers Allowance. In Glasgow alone this will increase JSA claimants by up to 31%, when there is already 5 times more job seekers then there is job centre vacancies.
“The assessment process for ESA has already become notorious for its sledgehammer approach to forcing people off of sickness benefits, and now many more disabled Scots face being told that their income will be removed because of a deeply flawed work capability assessment.
“The SNP fully backs action to help people with disabilities who are able to work to enter and be supported in employment, but society should not be withdrawing financial assistance from people who are genuinely unable to work. There is a justifiable perception among many disabled people that the UK government is far more interested in forcing them off of benefits than in genuinely helping people into work – that’s not the way to go about things.
“I urge the Westminster government to read CAS’s very informative and insightful report, which identifies the serious flaws in the ESA capability assessment system. The UK government must take swift and serious action to address those flaws now, before thousands of genuinely sick and disabled people find themselves unfairly deprived of their benefits and facing poverty.”