ConDem cuts to ESA benefits for the disabled hit vulnerable hardest ~ Daily Mirror

Worry: Chris Tattershall lost his sight in 1993

Debt charities see surge in calls as the vulnerable face a £100-a-week cut

The ConDems are hitting the most vulnerable hard as they chop ­benefits to those struggling with serious ill health.

Debt charities are worried as cuts in help for the disabled kick in and they are seeing a huge rise in problems with ESA ­(Employment and Support Allowance), the benefit paid to people too ill or disabled to work.

Citizens Advice says the number of people seeking help on ESA has shot up by an unprecedented 71% to more than 97,000 in the first three months of 2012, compared to the same time last year.

The system is in chaos – despite these changes being brought in to supposedly simplify benefits and to weed out those milking it and living off state handouts because they can’t be bothered to get out of bed.

The reality is hard-working people with serious ­disabilities and illness, those who have paid their way, many working for decades and paying National ­Insurance in the mistaken belief this would protect them if they became too ill to work, are the ones affected.

People like Chris Tattershall, who is blind and had to give up work when he lost his sight in 1993.

His ESA will stop in December and he is terrified he and wife Marjorie will end up on the street as they will no longer be able to afford their mortgage.

“I worked in heavy industry for 25 years in the local smelt works,” says Chris, 59, from Clitheroe, Lancs. “I thought you paid into the system so you could get help if you hit hard times and needed it.

“I feel like the rug is being pulled from under my feet. It is devastating. I feel very worried about the future.”

He adds: “Marjorie, who is 62, works just part time. There’s no way that her wage will cover our bills.

“We are not asking for huge amounts of money – just enough to get by and pay our bills.

“If we lose this benefit it will be a choice of either the mortgage or food.”

Chris is not alone. Along with hundreds of thousands of others he had to go through a work capability assessment to find out if he was fit for work.

Those found to have limited ­capability for work may be placed in work-related activity groups and are expected to move towards a job – with their contributory ESA paid for a maximum period of one year.

Alternatively, a smaller number of the most severely disabled are placed into support groups, made up of those not expected to be able to work again at any time. Their ESA is not ­time-limited.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy says: “Sweeping changes to the ­benefits system are redefining disability in a way that will leave many ­thousands of seriously disabled people much worse off.

“We’re really concerned the ­Government has also gone ahead with limiting the length of time people can get contribution-based ESA to 12 months, despite appeals for them to rethink or at least delay their plans.

The Department for Work and Pensions said: “ESA for people who could be expected to get back into work was never intended to be a long-term benefit.

“Only those with another household income or savings of more than £16,000 are affected by the one-year time limit.”

Problems begin with medical ­assessments, which are seeing many people being wrongly denied benefits because of serious inaccuracies in an unacceptably high number of assessments.

Chris was told he did not fit the ­descriptors for the ESA support group. He says: “They are either physical or mental disabilities. They don’t cater for blind people. Yet blindness is one of the worst disabilities. It affects every aspect of your life.”

Citizens Advice has seen an 82% increase in people seeking advice to appeal against ESA ­decisions.

Gillian Guy says: “Getting medical ­assessments right first time is absolutely essential to ensure that seriously ill and disabled people entitled to support through the benefits system get that support when they need it – and that it is the right kind of support to meet their needs.

“This change will see 300,000 people losing almost £100 a week, even when they continue to be assessed as being too ill to work. We are seeing more and more people worried about being able to pay their ­mortgage or meet basic living costs.

“Most have paid National Insurance all their lives – ­sometimes over three or four decades – believing this will protect them if they become too ill to work. They are feeling very betrayed and frightened for the future.”

If your money goes down as a result of these changes, seek help. You may be able to get more support from benefits such as housing benefit, council tax benefit, pension credit or tax credits.

Get help

Find out more about ESA changes at Or get more detailed personal advice from your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau. Visit for contact details.

Daily Mirror

5 thoughts on “ConDem cuts to ESA benefits for the disabled hit vulnerable hardest ~ Daily Mirror

  1. jeffery davies says:

    when i get old and loosing my hair .yep you got it been mugged by our benefits system no need to aplly as you wont get anything off them if you are time limited after the yr up if your partner works you will only get a pittance and in a lot of cases nowt so how come they say 16000 in bank most havent as they spent it living day to day savings gone but still denied benefits ,seek help thats a laugh they want us gone go quietly boy go quietly jeff3

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