Just to be clear, this means that if you have worked and paid national insurance contributions you will face an assessment. If that assessment finds that you are indeed unwell, but may be able to do some work at some point, you will only qualify for support for a year.
At the end of that year, no matter how ill you remain, if you have a partner who earns just £7,500 or more, or limited savings, you will lose all ESA. All of it.
Those with long term, serious illnesses, mental health conditions and learning disabilities are likely to be the worst affected. Sickness benefits as we know them will become a thing of the past. Just 6% of new claimants will qualify for long term support, the rest will have just one year.
I have written about time limiting extensively here (click for article)
The government accept that 94% will not have found work at the end of that year. They accept that they will not have recovered. They simply say "We can't afford it" http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmworpen/1015/101502.htm
The only way we can now stop the government from going ahead with this most horrifying of policies is for Lib Dem Lords to vote against it.
Earlier this year, Lib Dem grasroots members voted for a motion and amendment at their conference opposing an arbitrary time limit for ESA. The vote was overwhelmingly in favour.
Here is the amendment in full :
After C. (line 25), insert:
D. That vulnerable cases like this, where a welfare recipient’s income is threatened ,should qualify
for free legal representation.
Delete 2 (line 35) and insert:
2. Liberal Democrats in Government to oppose an arbitrary time limit on how long claimants can
claim contributory ESA.
In 3. (line 36), after ‘representation’ insert: ‘and expert advice, and for Government to reconsider
the exclusion of welfare benefits casework such as this from the scope of legal aid.
After 3. (line 36), add:
4. A presumption that ESA claimants with serious and uncontrollable life-threatening conditions
should be allocated to the support group rather than the work related activity group.
5 A review of ATOS performance in delivering the Medical Services Agreement contract with
DWP in respect of the quality of medical assessments.
6. Effective contract compliance for contractors carrying out ESA eligibility assessments to avoid
poor performance, and a presumption that in future ESA eligibility will be carried out by the
public sector or non-profit organisations.
Once this vote was carried, opposing the time limiting of ESA became Liberal Democrat policy.
Today, I'm asking all of you - Liberal Democrat or not - to write to a Lib Dem peer and beg them to oppose the one year time limit. Here is a list of Lib Dem peers http://www.libdems.org.uk/peers.aspx
Simply click on a letter at random, pick one and write to them. Beg them. Explain it to them. Feel free to send them my articles. Remind them about their conference pledge.
They're our only hope. If they support the Conservatives on this, despite the wishes of their members, 700,000 people will be affected. People with Parkinson's, Bowel Disease, MS, Cancer, Heart Failure, Kidney Failure, Lung disease, Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar and any other condition you can think of.
Please, write today. Then write again. Pick another peer and then another and keep writing until after Xmas.
Very early in the New Year, Lords will vote on this issue for the final time. It is only this vote now that stands between time limiting ESA becoming policy.
Please, if you've ever sent one of my letters, every RTd an article because I asked, every written to your MP, every written a blog post or an article, please, do this. Keep doing it until the day of the vote. Tell everyone and ask them to write too.
The welfare reform bill is almost law now. We don't have very many opportunities to make a difference. Let's make a difference over this.
**Feel free to re-post, share, RT and generally make sure that everyone knows, thanks.
The following articles may help: