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New report shows benefit reforms are 'devastating' sick and disabled people

8 Nov 2011

Citizens Advice Scotland have welcomed the publication of a major new report which shows the devastating impact of the new Employment & Support Allowance (ESA).

The report by Shefield Hallam University says that 1m people in the UK will be taken off sickness benefits in the next few years – 115,000 of them in Scotland. CAS research has previously shown that many of the individual assessments are wrong and are later overturned on appeal.

CAS Head of Policy Susan McPhee said,

“This report shows the extent of the crisis we have been predicting for years. Hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable people are having their lives devastated by a reform which is not fit for purpose.

“If the government wants to cut down on fraud and help people into work we support that. But with this system they are in fact targeting many people who are genuinely sick, and unable to work. They are removing their income and plunging them into poverty.

“CAB Benefits advisers at the moment are overwhelmed by people who have been found ‘fit for work’ by the ESA assessment when they are nothing of the kind. 70% of these people who are helped by the CAB have their assessment overturned at appeal – which shows how poor the system is and how many people are wrongly caught out by it.

“We have called for the government to halt implementation of the ESA until all the flaws are ironed out of the system. By continuing regardless they are showing they have little concern for protecting the vulnerable in our society.”

For more information, interviews etc. please contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010. NB This is the number of the CAS Press Office, for use by journalists only. If you are a member of the public looking for CAB advice please contact your local bureau.

ENDS