Friday 9 December 2011

Time Limiting ESA - We MUST stop it

It seems that the Conservatives are simply not willing to give an inch on Time Limiting ESA.

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"

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

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:


  1. I can manage a gasp of despair if that's any good?

  2. Nope, sorry Socrates, even if you simply say "Please, please vote against Time Limiting ESA in the Lords" that's good enough!! xx

  3. Sue i was denied ESA nearly 3 yrs ago cant get any worse sick to the back teeth of asking mp's Lords anyone who will listen for help. its a done deal not going to change until people die then the issue will be forced, sorry to seem negative but that is how its got me now

  4. Come on guys!! It's the last push. Just a few more weeks, don't give up on me now.

  5. no fight left in me, let them do what they will

  6. I also believe its a corrupt system and it wont change but I have written to the first 5 pages of Lords and I will continue tomorrow. Nothing has ever been changed in history by being apathetic and doing nothing. I think that this is one of the problems there is not enough outrage in the public media. Remember the countries outrage when the government attacked public parks and how quickly they decided not to implement their policies.

    Surely this is more important than grass and trees !! I have very limited mobility in my hands and I am in pain from typing but as I am housebound I feel I must do my bit. If everyone else contributed just a little bit think how mountains may move.

    I wish you luck Sue and will continue my typing tomorrow.

  7. Hi Sue, thank you so much for providing the links. There's nothing to lose by trying!!

    Time limiting contributory ESA to one year only is going to push people struggling with illness into dire poverty if they cannot find work or recover fast enough. I'm waiting for the result of my recent work capability assessment. The worst case scenario for me would be if was placed in the work related group and lost my appeal. I've suffered from panic disorder with agoraphobia for twelve years. I would not be able to attend the interviews and so would lose all of my benefit. If I had one wish it would be that I woke up tomorrow panic and anxiety free. Reality is that's not going to happen. People don't recover from conditions like mine overnight even with long term therapy. Mental health services limit your therapy to 12 sessions here and that's your lot, ready or not. Back on the waiting list you go.

    Having worked and paid NI I am furious and frightened to death by the prospect of my benefit being reduced. My circumstances will be exactly the same as they were last year and the year before but they would want to reduce my income? Why? I don't have a partner to support me, and if I did, what a stuggle that would be if they were on a low wage. I can see relationships being ripped apart as a result. People losing the little independence that they still have. I'm tired of being made to feel guilty for an illness I didn't ask for and I want to recover from desperately. This government seems determined to penalise and punish sick people for having the audacity to become unwell and staying unwell. You point out there are many conditions that don't miraculously clear up even when threatened with having their entire income being taken away. It's cruel and unjust. The work related group is for people with a limited capacity for work or they'd be on jobseekers allowance right? In this time where five people are competing for one job (as stated on Question Time last night) who are the employers going to choose? Those fit and able or those with special requirements and mental illnesses? The irony is, and I should know, having a condition associated with mental health makes you feel too ashamed to tell anyone or meet anyone new in case they ask too many questions. It's so stigmatised that no one in their right mind would fake it! Not that you could if you had bi-polar or schizophrenia, which like anxiety and depression is exacerbated by stress and worry, and this assessment process and the resulting fear for your future makes it so much worse. Much worse! Little wonder people have been driven to suicide.

    So yes, I will write to them over the weekend. There is a glimmer of hope. The Lib Dems are preventing Mr Cameron from reforming welfare as much as he would wish, or so he said recently in the Guardian. Thank goodness for the Lib Dems. Never thought I'd be saying that either!

  8. Rosey & Candytuft - Thank you xx

  9. The guy that wrote this report is very good

    he seams to have covered the small detail

    My mp says it's done and dusted and am wasting my time so go to work or you'll never be free from persecution and as i have had it for 30 years it's about time i gave up ?

    My mp is right I'm tied of all the letters and fighting even if i won at some point my body and mind are damaged ?

    I'm tied now and lost for words no good will ever come of this only death and destruction for many

    I WONT BE ABLE TO FIGHT ANY LONGER so must take a back seat but you are all in my daily prayers that i can assure you

  10. What happens to children when the parent loses their ESA because a partner earns £7,500 upwards? Or when the ESA claimed drops from £94.50? contributory to £67.50? income related (I can't even find the figures clearly stated even though I'm going through the assessment process!!!!) I am not a parent so I genuinely don't know what can be claimed to support a child when the parent is unwell, or deemed well enough for only limited work? Where do you find money to clothe, feed, house them and everything else? Have children been factored in to this threat to contributory ESA?

  11. Sorry, didn't understand how tax credits worked. Okay...

    Job Seekers Allowance - I cannot find any evidence that those being paid the contributory element will be denied any benefits if they fail to find employment in 12 months. I'm sure I've read that it too will be means tested after a period of time but nowhere have I seen that a partner will be expected to support the person seeking work.

    Please someone clarify this? I hope I'm correct in assuming that JSA is not time limited, but this raises a truly serious ethical issue!

    People on ESA have LIMITED capability for SOME work. They will find it much harder to gain employment, mainly due to ill health but also because employers will not readily accommodate and support their needs and especially with mental health as there is a massive problem with stigma and prejudice. Therefore a large proportion of the most vulnerable people in the greatest need of support will receive no financial assistance whatsoever or help to find work? Society is just going to wash it's hands of sick people, and expect their partners to bear the burden? Seriously, this is so outrageous it really defies all sense and reason. Won't the numbers on JSA increase as people apply for that when their ESA has stopped? Sickness denial looks a lot like 'robbing Peter to pay Paul'.

    PS. Yes it's almost 4am. Chronic insomnia! Another miserable symptom of anxiety and depression :(

  12. Making this effort now *might* be one of the most important things you ever do.

    You never know which of the letters you write is going to change a mind and which vote is going to make a difference.

    It was a pebble which started the avalanche.

    It isn't what I'd planned to do this morning, but I'm going to write a (short) letter.
    I'm then going to follow Sue's link to the list of peers and make an email group of them.
    I will email them several times.
    I will share this with friends and family.

    I strongly urge others to do something similar even if you just choose 1 peer and write to them once.

    This law would destroy our welfare system. We can't let it happen without a fight.

  13. We are wasting our time. Most people don't care. This was introduced by Labour and now continued by the ConDems, so there is nowhere to turn. I have personal experience of an extrememly vulnerable person being found fit for work, but now without any benefits bcz she cannot attend the bi-monthly interviews. You are fobbed off with "we need to weed out scroungers" and the "genuinely ill will be supported"...but we "don't want to condemn people to a lifetime lived on benefits". Therefore they have covered all bases.Sorry, Sue - but I really think that without popular support, we are fighting a losing battle.

  14. On the other hand email seems a foreign concept to most of them.
    Snail mail it is.

  15. However pointless it might seem, at least write to your MP (they all have email addresses at Westminster - for all you know, hundreds of others are doing likewise and it might influence his/her opinion - after all, they will want re-election when the time comes. My MP (a staunch Tory)at least past mine onto Lord Freud and I received a "personal" response. It was itemised, which allows each point to be challenged separately to hopefully defeat the logic more comprehensively. See

  16. Those who think this is pointless might want to keep it to themselves. Hope is precious, fragile, you can destroy it easily.

    If you must lose do you want to lose knowing you never tried or lose knowing that you did all you can??

  17. As one who has spent a lifetime fighting the system, battling for services, filling in forms, attending meetings, case studies ad infinitum, I really do feel for those who feel hopeless and helpless now. It seems a little harsh to have a go at people who have had their hope destroyed...where else do they turn, if not here among people who know how they are feeling?

  18. The point Anon is that it gets said over, and over, and over, and over again. And it isn't helping either. If people are that distraught and dismayed, then fine, we get it. But don't go bringing the rest of us down. It doesn't help - it's just a whinge. I can whinge with the best of them, but there's a time to stop feeling sorry for oneself and get the job done.

    It's gotten to the point where the same people pop up and talk of their despair; it's a cry for help, I get that, maybe even a cry for attention, but that's exactly why we're fighting, so people get the help and attention they need. Feeling hopeless and helpless is one thing, trying to drag other people down into helplessness because misery loves company is not okay. And if you think I'm being too harsh here, believe me, what I'm NOT saying would probably sound a lot worse.

    So I'll use the crude American saying - either shit or get off the pot. If you're feeling that down and despondent, go and get some help. But this is for people who aren't ready to lie down and die just yet.

  19. @ Oya's Daughter Thanks. Hadn't thought of it that way. Some good points - and I'm not giving up either! x


    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

  21. To write to a lord send the letter to
    House of Lords
    SW1A 0PW

    You beat me to it, but here are further details.

    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

  22. Thanks everyone. Oya's daughter is exactly right. I do this exactly for those who HAVE lost hope, who CAN'T do it themselves. I get it,that's why I gave my life to doing it for them.

    I just don't want others to be made to feel despondent or believe it is not worthwhile.

  23. Done and done, lets hope they listen to us then

  24. Some people in government seem to think the sick are a soft target and that we are so daft we'll be a pushover.

    I've been fighting ever since I got my ppms diagnosis, both for survival and to help others do the same. Take courage and get typing.

    At least its not as cold as it is out on the streets of Moscow!

  25. There is a way to sort this nonsense out, that would be cost effective to Government and carers. But who will listen??

    Under Labour good well run council care homes in my area were going to be closed down.Elections brought in the Conservatives who sold them off to the private sector after heavily discounting them.

    Assets lost! Ughhh As for the Liberals, they run with the hair and hunt with the hounds.

    Clegg being a PRIME EXAMPLE. Would you buy a used car from him?

  26. My son is on ESA for LD/mental illness. After paying his bills he has £35 to live on. We pay all his travelling expenses/help him out with meals, clothing e.c.t. If he lost his ESA the £35 would be reduced to 0. I will write !!!!!!!!

  27. Thank you for raising awareness about this -I had actually thought that this point was already lost and a done deal. I will be writing a letter this afternoon on behalf of my Mum (who receives ESA and has rheumatoid arthritis) and will send it to as many LibDem Lords as possible.
    Keep fighting the good fight,

  28. Hello Sue

    First post on your excellent site, keep up the good work.

    First time in my life I have contacted a MP or Lord, but I feel so annoyed I have generated my own letter, and e-mailed all of the peers whose e-mail address I could find, imploring them to vote against this vile piece of legislation. Citing the unfairness of the proposed law, mention of the LibDem conference vote, and gave a personal account as to how the time limiting will affect our lives. I guess they will all have a good laugh at my expense, and vote for it anyway, but at least I have tried!

  29. Anonymous 17.24 Wonderful!! thanks so much for taking the time and effort - and of course for commenting :)

    You know, if 10,000 of us all wrote, the policy would probably fail.

  30. Update: I have now emailed all LibDem Lords who have an email address on the Parliament website (strange truth of the day: the further through the alphabet their surname, the less likely they are to have an email address). Tomorrow I will go back through the ones without an email address and look for the ones who have an interest in health and / or disability -they will receive snail mail from me.

  31. I tried emailing the above list with a plea to maybe do what their conference recommended rather than what their power crazed friends in the "other place" tell them to and found there is one of the email addresses that is defunct:-

    SMTP Server rejected recipient
    (Error following RCPT command). It responded as follows: [550 5.1.1 User unknown]

    Just to let anyone know if they use that list.

    So far only 2 have actually READ the email I sent, Michael German and Graham Tope.

    We live in hope.

  32. That did not come out, the defunct email was Ros Scott.

  33. btw Dec 11th 1941 was the day the Americans declared war on Germany and Italy!

    70th Anniversary

  34. Rebecca, Ian12, thank you.

    We CAN do this you know "Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are." Benjamin Frnaklin

    The policy is outrageous enough. We just have to explain it to enough people in time.

  35. I now have READ acknowledgement from Baron DHOLAKIA.

    That might be he just looked at it then deleted it but we live in hope...

  36. I am hearing that the Lib Dems are not best pleased with Cameron's stance on the Eraserzone, so it could be that some will rebel, with a bit of luck.

  37. The old age pension is paid to those in retirement irrespective of their wealth so JSA should be the same and not time limited
    There may be some legal redress as people like myself have paid in over the legal limit of 30 years of National insurance stamps in my case 37 years ?

  38. Sent out 36 emails today, response of receipt from one saying have to see what ministers say. Keep our fingers crossed and a few prayers.

  39. I've only just read this article. I'm very happy to send e.mails/letters etc as the proposal to time limit ESA to one year terrifies me. However, as this article was posted a while ago, am I too late to join the fight? Thanks,

  40. Thanks for the post. When ESA 1 reports appear to be abnormal, then Environmental site asessment phase 2 is done. This two processes are very important in industrial engineering.


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