Saturday 10 December 2011

Time Limiting ESA - Template Letter to Lords

Yesterday, I asked you all to write to a Lib Dem peer and plead with them to vote against time limiting ESA to just one year.

Template letters are certainly less effective - many parliamentarians won't open  more than one or two of them. However, they are better than not writing at all. For every peer who receives 5, 10, 50 template letters, at least they get to see the strength of feeling people have over an issue.

If you don't have the confidence to write your own, please use this one. Peers might also remember that I write for disabled people. Many cannot write a letter themselves. Due to physical or mental disabilities, I have often had comments from those so very grateful that a template letter I have provided allowed them to engage democratically.


"Dear .........................

I am writing to you in the hope that you will vote against time limiting ESA to just one year in the coming welfare reform bill Report Stage and Third Reading.

-700,000 people with serious illnesses and impairments will be affected by this policy, many losing any right to an independent income.

-The means test is set at just £7,500 per year, meaning that a partner must support an unwell or disabled loved one if they earn more than this.

-Families already overwhelmingly living in poverty will lose £4661 per year. This is three times as much as higher rate taxpayers will lose in child benefit.

-This policy only affects working families and savers as it only applies to those who have contributed NI or have savings over £6000.

-It is a disincentive to work  and will only encourage families to break down

-The only justification ministers have given for this policy is that "We can't afford it" Sick and disabled people with limited capability for work are conflated with jobseekers as ministers claim ESA must be brought into line with JSA

-Ministers admit that 94% of those affected will not have found work by the end of the year. They also insist that it is irrelevant whether or not they have recovered.

-People with serious, lifelong, and degenerative conditions will all be affected by this. People with MS, Cancer, Parkinsons, Bowel Disease, Kidney Failure, Heart Disease, Lung Disease, Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar and many many more conditions will lose benefits, left in limbo until they are judged unable to do any kind of work at all,.

At your annual conference this year, Liberal Democrat members voted overwhelmingly to oppose an "arbitrary time limit" on ESA. Please, please, stand by the wishes of your grassroots and of your party and oppose this cruellest of measures.

We are relying on you to help us. Only Liberal Democrat peers can provide a majority and ensure that a one year time limit on sickness benefits is not made law. Please, you promised to protect the most vulnerable and if ever a policy hit the most vulnerable the hardest, then it is time limiting ESA.

Many thanks



Here is a link to Lib Dem Peers. Simply click on it, pick a letter of the alphabet at random, and copy and paste in the letter. 
The more you can do, the more we can persuade. Thank you.

Finally, please keep up the pressure and RT, share on Facbook, email to friends and feel free to cross post this. 


  1. Names of peers with emails:
    Lord Allan of Hallam

    Lord Dholakia – Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Peers,

    Lord German – Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Party Committee on Work and Pensions

    Lord Goodhart

    Baroness Hamwee – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party

    Committee on Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities (Home Office)

    Lord Lester of Herne Hill

    Baroness Ludford MEP – MEP for London

    Lord Maclennan of Rogart – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Constitutional and Political Reform (Cabinet Office), Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Scotland

    Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

    Lord Newby – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Treasury Parliamentary Party Committee

    Baroness Parminter

    Lord Rennard

    Baroness Scott of Needham Market

    Baroness Sharp of Guildford

    Lord Shipley

    Lord Stephen

  2. To write to a Lord, post to
    House of Lords
    SW1A 0PW

    The Following Lords hold positions:

    Lord Alderdice – Convenor of the Liberal Democrat Peers and Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Northern Ireland

    Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury – Deputy Convenor of the Liberal Democrat Peers and Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport

    Lord Bradshaw – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Transport

    Lord Chidgey – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Internaitonal Affairs (DfID)

    Lord Dholakia – Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Peers,

    Baroness Falkner – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on International Affairs (FCO)

    Baroness Garden of Frognal – Government Whip

    Lord German – Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Party Committee on Work and Pensions :

    Lord Greaves – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on DEFRA

    Baroness Hamwee – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities (Home Office):

    Baroness Jolly – Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Party Committee on Health and Social Care

    Lord Lee of Trafford – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Internaitonal Affairs (MoD)

    Baroness Ludford MEP – MEP for London

    Lord Maclennan of Rogart – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Constitutional and Political Reform
    (Cabinet Office), Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Scotland

    Lord Newby – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Treasury Parliamentary Party Committee

    Baroness Randerson – Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Party Committee on Wales

    Lord Razzall – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on BIS

    Lord Teverson – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on DECC

    Lord Thomas of Gresford – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities (MoJ)

    Lord Tope – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Communities and Local Government :

    Lord Tyler – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Constitutional and Political Reform

    Lord Wallace Of Saltaire – Government Whip

    Lord Wallace of Tankerness – Advocate General for Scotland

    Baroness Walmsley – Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Education, Families and Young People

  3. Thanks LoopyS, I really appreciate your support xx

  4. e-mails for peers that appear to have them n how to contact those who dont! - most dont!

    above is a list of libdem peers e-mail addreses - Ive taken them n put them together via Sue's link - the rest of them will have to be contacted separately via it may be worth while contacting independents as well as libdems? xxxx

  5. In principle the problem isn't so much with Time limiting contributory ESA as that the threshold for income related ESA is ridiculously low. There's just no actual way two adults can survive on £7,500 a year or £16,000 in savings.

    That said, getting peers to vote down this bit of this piece of legislation would be lot easier than getting government to totally overhaul the thresholds for contributory/Income related benefits so I'll just shut up and start writing some letters.

  6. Your only effective way to go if your not put in the support group is to fight your corner like i have done
    It is difficult but it's your only chance of maintaining your ESA income long term

    Some may say for £5000 per year is it worth the fight but the answer is if your ill you fight and if your not you'll work

    I have fought for 30 years and I'll dare say they will expect me to fight another 30 years well i have news for them i only have another 10 years to be officially retired yes it seams a long road ahead just think i will have fought and won and lost at times over a forty year period

    Sounds like i should be due a medal as that is a hell of a long time to have been in the DWP system and fighting hard with others who like me are completely exhausted

  7. If it comes to the crunch and at some point we have very little money to live on we still have each other right ?

    It may not seam like much but you'll find that it will be better then nothing
    We will have to get by on bread and cheese no doubt the trouble is that cheese is getting expensive and their may be some folk like me who's diet is very small but expensive marks and Spencer for example i mean my weekly bill their for just myself is £30 it's not a lot but if money is tight i will have to go without every other day like i have done in the past

    It's not ideal obversely but it's better then starving outright or eating unsuitable foods which in my case are many causing vomiting

    My daily intake of food is just a small tub of rice pudding for breakfast a ham sandwich for lunch and a meat pie of some sort for dinner beef or lamb on a Sunday and depending on how the day has gone at midnight i may be able to eat a black cherry yoghurt plus my vitamin tablets

    so you can see it's far from ideal but still expensive in food terms

    years ago i was just on a bread and cheese diet as that was the only thing i could afford that didn't make me ill so i may have to get back in that routine only time will tell

  8. Sue, your template letter is brilliant. It's helping me so much. Where did you get the figure for the savings at £6000 please? I'm trying to draft my letter here. I thought it was £16,000 savings and £6000-16,000 if there's other income coming in? I'm a bit fuddled.

    PS. It doesn't just affect working families. I for example would have my benefit reduced by a third if I was moved from contributory ESA to the income related ESA because I'm single. Previously incapacity benefit was my only source of income.

    It means everyone receiving contributory ESA loses something after 12 months, and if 94% of people fail to secure employment that's pretty much everbody.

  9. Coffeecup - You're right. It's so difficult in these articles to cover every last base. I have to try to walk a line between making it easy for people who don't know the system to understand, and covering the legality of the description.

    The savings taper starts at 6k, so I use that figure.

    Basically, I hate it too, but the phrase "working families" is a Tory dog-whistle. I use it to make them realise how stupid the policy is. Predominantly it is those who worked/work who will be affected, but you're right, many others will be too.

  10. Otherwise the sentence reads

    "Contributory ESA will be time limited for those found capable of some Work Related Activity if their partner earns over £7,500 or if they have savings of between 6 and £16,000"

    Accurate, but it doesn't really mean anything to normal, non Westminster types.

  11. Hi Sue, thanks for clarifying. Done, blogged, need stamps and envelopes :)

  12. Thanks Sue. A template helps hugely - just can't think from scratch with my foggy brain. Have adapted it slightly so they may not notice, at least for a few sentences!

    Kate xx

  13. Stephen - I've thought many times about suggesting the means test threshold is set higher than £7,500 - say higher rate tax (40k) or even benefits cap level (26k)

    Trouble is, I just oppose the whole idea utterly, so like you, decided to just shut up, lol

  14. Cynically, the table in the Time Limit paper (DWP) shows that most people affected on lower incomes, by the time you get to 26k or 40k it just doesn't save them enough money :(

  15. The whole thing just reeks anyway.

    If they were really keen on saving money they would look at areas of waste - such as corruption and/or excess. My local council has just blown £4 million re-paving the high street. And yes, they are slashing budgets left right and centre.

    This isn't about "saving money", it's about snagging some back from the people least likely to fight back. Didn't send a letter yesterday, but I certainly will today. Since it appears that no one else will stand up for ill and disabled people, it looks like we'll just have to stand up for ourselves.

  16. This is to thank you for troubling to write. The ESA is something that I know my colleagues who are closely involved in the Bill have identified as particularly difficult, and the proposals trouble me – we will have to see how the Minister responds.

    Well its one response so far.
    dont quite understand what she means by "see how minister responds"

  17. Hi - I have posted something about this on Harry's Place. If you wish to comment in order to clarify any points - please do so.

  18. Anon 18.30. I've had the same message via email.

  19. You might also be interested in a justification from Lord Freud himself and a reply.

  20. And the officail response to an FoI Act request re impact:

  21. Watched a small bit of the debate in the Lord's...Two put up great arguments against Fraud...One saying how dare he tar all with the same brush of being wasters/scroungers when they are receiving Chemo and another said his wife had Chemo recently and no way was she fit to think about working but Fraud just kept saying the same thing about there should not be a blanket excemption on patients who are on a treatment of Chemo and those who are unable to work will be in the supported group...he reasoned those who want to work would find it difficult to obtain work.

    Well, igf they are will enough to work(want to work)that could be so whether you are Chemo or not...if you have taken leave or have an arrangement with your employer and they don't mind or can work your appointments and "Bad" days into their system you will be in a position to continue if that's what you want so why does he feel that everyone should be on a time limited benefit which could be argued to be a blanket idea similar to what he is arguing against?

    Its an attempt to claim money back from the vulnerable and sick "pure and simple"

    Radio 4 next week at 8pm I forget which night there is a programme called "Can You Touch Your Toes" All about the new assessments being done regarding getting people claiming and being forced back into the work place...they follow some long term sick people with a variety of conditions and illnesses through from the filling in of forms through the so called tests and the waiting of the results...

  22. This is the sort of thing that is very likely to happen when the cuts get bad

  23. Fwiw, this is what I sent - I went via WriteToThem and apparently my message is being sent via the House Of Lords central fax machine.

    "I am writing to you about the upcoming Welfare Reform Bill Report Stage and Third Reading. In particular I am urging you to vote against time-limiting ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) to one year for claimants with partners.

    Hundreds of thousands of people with chronic illness would be affected by this time limit, including myself. It would remove my independent
    income entirely and force me to become completely dependent on my partner. Me and others like me would no longer be able to decide to buy things we need - we would have to ask permission from our partners first, or ask for an allowance. We are adults and this would be degrading and damaging to our self-esteem. It is a situation that would no doubt be exploited by abusive partners.

    This is before we consider just how low the partner's level of income has to be before they are made financially responsible for their sick
    spouse - just £7.5k/year. Two people cannot survive on this amount, never mind families with children. It will plunge hundreds of thousands of households into poverty.

    The time limit is supposed to provide an incentive for sick people to get back to work, but no time limit will force employers to take on board people with chronic health problems, or make medical conditions magically disappear. In fact ministers have admitted that after the
    one-year limit is up, 94% of people still will not have found work.

    This is a cruel measure that will make life intolerable for many and simply will not work as a way of encouraging sick and disabled people
    into work. Please vote in the same way as grass roots members of your party did earlier this year, and stop the time limit from becoming law.
    Only Liberal Democrat peers can provide the majority needed to protect vulnerable people from this aspect of welfare reform. Please help."

    Thanks Sue for providing the info I based my email on. Fingers crossed.

  24. Thanks for sharing this. I've sent a copy of this email to all the peers, using a blind carbon copy (Bcc). I work full time and don't claim any benefits at all, but I'm horrified at these proposals. I believe that in a civilised society, we have a moral duty to support the disabled and the poor.

  25. Thanks for stopping my ib and now left with nothing my husband is now doing to jobs to keep me we have heating on low cant afford to do supermarket shopping and got debts which I now can't pay because of this and I have 3 kids my husband don't get paid util next fri and we have £5 left between us I've been told I can't work and atso have said I'm fit to work what the hell

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