Leading a debate in the Scottish Parliament today on the impact of social security cuts, SNP MSP Christina McKelvie will highlight “shocking” new survey results which show that further cuts will have a negative impact on the health, independence and work prospects of disabled people.

New figures, published by the Disability Benefits Consortium, have found that 70 per cent of disabled people surveyed believed that further cuts to Employment and Support Allowance will cause their health to suffer; almost half (45 per cent) said they may cause them to return to work later; and 40 per cent believe they will be more isolated. The UK Government plans to cut the amount paid to people in the ESA Work Related Activity Group by about a third from April 2017. 

Speaking ahead of the debate, Christina McKelvie MSP said:

“This new survey – published by a coalition of leading disability charities – not only reiterates the shocking impact of these social security cuts on disabled people but finds that further cuts to ESA will undermine the very purpose of the benefit. 

“Employment and Support Allowance exists in order to support ill and disabled people to improve their health, and where they can, to get into work. Disabled people themselves now tell us that they believe their health will suffer as a result of further cuts and they will probably take longer to get back into work as a result.

“By contrast, the Scottish Government has fully mitigated the impact of the Bedroom Tax; is supporting disabled people to claim the benefits they are entitled to; and is consulting on an extensive disability action plan. But even after the limited devolution of disability benefits to Scotland with substantially reduced budgets, ESA will remain in Tory hands. 

“With the UK Government’s appalling track record when it comes to social security, it’s no wonder more and more people in Scotland want to see these powers in Scotland’s hands, rather than in the hands of right-wing Tories like Iain Duncan Smith.  The only way that we can build a fairer social security system for all disabled people – which supports them to live healthy, independent and fulfilling lives – is with the full devolution of working age benefits and a halt to Tory cuts to the social security budget.”

The full text of the motion is below:

S4M-13845 Christina McKelvie: Halt Welfare Reform —That the Parliament notes with strong concern what it sees as the continuing austerity being forced on the whole of the UK by the UK Government, with the main focus on reforming welfare provision, which it considers detrimentally affects disabled, unemployed and young people; notes calls for a limitation on the use of sanctions, timing people out, the use of the "bedroom tax" for disabled people and repeated assessments of those deemed unfit for work; believes that, throughout the Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse constituency and across Scotland, disabled people are being punished by welfare reform, and notes the view that, until a system is introduced that supports carers and disabled people, welfare reform should be brought to an end.