Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Some good news on ESA and the Work Capability Assessment

Liberal Democrat conference voted on Saturday for a motion criticising employment support allowance and Atos work capability assessments. In addition they passed an amendment to the motion which contained much more interesting statements. Page 20 of Conference Extra [PDF] gives details of amendment one for motion F6.

This amendment means that LibDems oppose limiting ESA to one year for those that have made national insurance contributions, demand that people with "serious and uncontrollable life-threatening conditions" are given unconditional support instead of having to attend work-focussed interviews, and are in favour of giving legal help to those appealing against being declared fit to work. They also want Atos to be forced to improve their performance, and in future, for the role of assessing people as fit for work or not to be carried out by government or non-profit groups.

While this has come late in the day, the Welfare Reform Bill has not yet been passed by the House of Lords and so now that the LibDems have adopted this motion and amendment I am hopeful that LibDem peers might oppose aspects of the bill that conflict with it and either amend the bill or send it back to the house of commons to start again. I don't know how binding this motion is on the LibDem peers but their previous stance does not have the backing of the party. In fact, when this motion was voted on there were very few people that voted against it at all.

There were some excellent speeches in favour of this motion and amendment and I have uploaded some of the best to Youtube - see further down. The motion was originally written by George Potter who contacted a few different people for help. In his speech he used Sue Marsh of Diary of a Benefit Scrounger as his main example.

Videos from the Liberal Democrat Conference 2011

This article first appeared in a longer form on the author's own blog.


  1. Problem i see it - Whedn this was being taken to the 'secret peers' as in back office not in main whatsit for all to see and vote on - LibDems voted WITH the conservatives. Thus this is why it is not in the place for all peers to vote etc. LibDems wouldd have been able to have a spine and vote against it when it actually would have meant that ALL the peers would have voted on it but they were spi8neless and voted just like they are conservatives.

    Thusly I hold out no hope for this and no hope for my own future :-( Sorry but i feel this govt hates me cos my body failed me and I got sick.

    Cameron is the worst man I have ever laid eyes on and even clegg is starting to sound like him now (in tone of voice etc)

    Sorry but i feel that all the words now are meaningless when they had the chance and did nothing but vote with the conservatives like litle lap dogs

  2. Anonymous - personally, I agree with you. It's too little too late. The Lib Dems have been instrumental in getting this Bill through every stage so far, I don't see them changing on the basis of this.