Rebecca Jeffrey, Social Policy Coordinator at York and District CAB went to the Work and Pensions Committee public meeting on ESA on 15th May.
“I went along fully prepared with statistics from our bureau and case studies from our clients to make the case that ESA is not fit for work. What I hadn’t been prepared for was the truly awful stories members of the public brought on their experiences of ESA.
“Working in York and District CAB, I often hear how our advisers have helped people with their ESA claims, but hearing the stories directly from the people who have been through the process really made a big impression on me.
“Their illnesses and disabilities were hugely varied, but they all shared one thing in common: the process they were forced to go through was humiliating, undignified and robbed them of their individuality. One person described how they were ‘treated like a criminal’, another that ‘no one wants to help’ and others about how they now felt paranoid and guilty about being disabled and on benefits.
“They all spoke about how they really wanted to work but they were either unable to or the support they needed wasn’t available. Another recurring theme was the effect of the process on their mental health, from worsening their current condition to attempting suicide because of the process. Welfare benefit workers talked about clients who had been successful in suicide.”
Read her account on the Citizens Advice website