The Welfare Reform Bill and the Hardest Hit Campaign - we need your help!

The Welfare Reform Bill and the Hardest Hit Campaign - we need your help!

Unless you've had your head buried in the sand, you are likely to have heard something in the press about the Welfare Reform Bill, which is currently going through the UK Parliament (hint: it's quite controversial).

The news headlines are currently focused around the potential benefits cap and how this would impact upon families and children. While this is of course an incredibly important issue, there is also the small matter of how the Bill would impact upon disabled people.

The Bill is currently being debated by the House of Lords, but it will be returning to the House of Commons in the near future, where MPs will have a further chance to debate and alter some of the measures contained in it.

In preparation for this, NRAS and other members of the Disability Benefits Consortium are coming together to try and put pressure on the Government to keep in some of the amendments that we have battled over in the House of Lords.

Chief among them is the issue of contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which provides financial help to people who are unable to work because of illness or disability, and also provides personalised support to those unable to work.

The Government wants to limit access to this benefit to 1 year, which we believe is unfair. Particularly as most people will have contributed to this benefit through taxation during their working lives, and expect to be supported by the state if they become vulnerable. Our amendments would also ensure that young people with disabilities or illness get access to ESA, even if they have not had a chance to work yet.

Although we would prefer no time limit to be placed on contributory ESA at all, we have fought hard to get it doubled to 2 years during Lords debates, and we now want to make sure this is not overturned when the Bill eventually returns to the House of Commons.

You can help by taking a couple of minutes today and emailing your local MP using this e-campaigning tool:

If your local MP is a Liberal Democrat then please make even more of an effort to contact them, as their party conference last year voted to oppose a ESA time limit - and you will be reminding them of this pledge.

You can also help by going along to your local MP's next constituency surgery and raising the issue. If your MP is listed below then we have identified them as being particularly important and we know they will be holding a constituency surgery in either the next few days and weeks, so please consider making an appointment:

Rt Hon Danny Alexander MP

Mr Norman Baker MP

Rt Hon Sir Alan Beith MP

Mr Gordon Birtwistle MP

Rt Hon Tom Brake MP

Mrs Annette Brooke MP

Mr Jeremy Browne MP

Rt Hon Malcolm Bruce MP

Mr Paul Burstow MP

Ms Lorely Burt MP

Rt Hon Dr Vincent Cable

Rt Hon Sir Menzies Campbell CBE QC MP

Rt Hon Alistair Carmichael MP

Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP

Mr Mike Crockart MP

Mr Edward Davey MP

Mr Tim Farron MP

Ms Lynne Featherstone MP

Rt Hon Don Foster MP

Mr Andrew George MP

Mr Steve Gilbert MP

Mr Duncan Hames MP

Mr Mike Hancock CBE

Mr Nick Harvey MP

Mr David Heath CBE MP

Mr John Hemming MP

Mr Martin Horwood MP

Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP

Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP

Mr Mark Hunter MP

Dr Julian Huppert MP

Rt Hon Charles Kennedy MP

Mr Norman Lamb MP

Rt Hon David Laws MP

Mr John Leech MP

Mr Stephen Lloyd MP

Rt Hon Michael Moore MP

Mr Greg Mulholland MP

Mrs Tessa Munt MP

Dr John Pugh MP

Mr Alan Reid MP

Mr Dan Rogerson MP

Sir Bob Russell MP

Mr Adrian Sanders MP

Sir Robert Smith Bt MP

Mr Andrew Stunell OBE MP

Mr Ian Swales MP

Ms Jo Swinson MP

Ms Sarah Teather MP

John Thurso MP

Mr David Ward MP

Mr Steve Webb MP

Mr Mark Williams MP

Mr Roger Williams MP

Mr Stephen Williams MP

Miss Jenny Willott MP

Mr Simon Wright MP

For more information about the Welfare Reform Bill and the Employment and Support Allowance, please visit:

The Disability Benefits Consortium:

The Hardest Hit Campaign:

UK Parliament:

Direct Gov:

7 Replies

Hi Jamie - all done thanks for prompting me - here's how mine went ;

Dear Alistair Carmichael,

I have recently been diagnosed with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis - which you may know to be a systemic and incurable autoimmune disease). As a new member of the charity NRAS I was asked to write to you and request that you support important amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill. I am extremely concerned that people with severe disabilities, brought about by chronic and painful diseases such as RA and MS, which impact on their daily lives and ability to find or remain in employment, will be discriminated against - unless key changes are put in place to safeguard their interests.

Best wishes, (TT)


And I've just received a positive response from which I quote; "Once the Lords have finished with the bill (today) it should be clearer what we can keep and what we can not. I shall give you a more detailed response once the issues are clearer.

Thanks for getting in touch."

I responded by reminding him of the very worthy pledge made at last year's lib-dem conference to oppose an ESA time limit - and reminding him that I hope and expect them to stick by this pledge.



I've been involved with 38 degrees, armchair army (facebook group) and benefits and work for some time now actively raising awareness of the impact these changes will have on long term sick/disabled people. Also, E-mailed both my MP and various members of the House of Lords, sadly I've not had a response from my MP yet, no great surprise as it was labour who started this with the introduction of ATOS and reform of IB/sickness benefits.

The current governments draconian measures to cut welfare benefits are making life more difficult for genuinely sick/disabled people and low income families, many suicides and early death have been reported due to stress all this worry is causing, I personally would like to see the press print these stories instead of highlighting the few abusers.

Beth x


Hi everyone,

I just wanted to say thanks to all of you for your support.


Jamie x


Hiya .. any chance of putting this on the NRAS blog too Jamie some people do not use Health Unlocked ... and i only occasionally look in :)

Rich :)


Hi Rich,

I've asked one of my colleagues to look into it.




No prob ... have just posted it in the forum under benefits