Jim Shannon " I have recently spoken about the changes to the employment and support allowance work-related activity group and what that means for people. The biggest issue is that the Government need to understand the difference between “ill” and “unable to work”. That, in a nutshell, is what the debate is about—the interpretation by the Department for Work and Pensions of what it means to be ill and what it means to those people who sit across the table from me every day and tell me they cannot work. The hon. Member for Lanark and Hamilton East referred to people being pasty, sweaty and anxious, and my staff and I see those things every day of the week. In the last month, we have seen in my office a former ward sister, a former construction business owner and a social worker, all of whom are now on ESA. Let me be clear: I do not believe for a second that those people are choosing not to work out of laziness. Who would want to go from earning £500 a week down to £75? People do not, but that is what happens." Siobhain McDonagh ............"Finally, and perhaps most worryingly, inaccurate assessments for both PIP and ESA are widespread, making the wrong decisions and causing a lot of pain to individuals who are entitled to those benefits. PIP works on a points system, and Merton CIL has witnessed many assessments in which people are assessed as having zero or very few points, with the result later being overturned in tribunal. For some of my constituents, their assessments were so far removed from their lived experience that they felt sure that their notes had been mixed up with someone else’s." "There is a range of other ESA-related problems, such as the practice of arranging unnecessarily frequent repeat assessments, the unfair and sudden stopping of ESA payments and the difficulty of successfully contacting the DWP to correct issues. We all know of the terrible pain and hardship that come with the appeals process, and it cannot be acceptable that two thirds of people applying for PIP and ESA are being forced to undergo a lengthy appeals process in order to access a benefit to which they are entitled." Corri Wilson "...As my hon. Friend the Member for Lanark and Hamilton East mentioned, the latest statistics and appeals against PIP decisions show that a staggering 65% of appeals find in favour of the claimant. Coupled with almost 60% of initial decisions on ESA assessments being overturned, a reasonable person would be left wondering about the cost-effectiveness of a system that routinely makes such bad decisions. When we add in the recent United Nations report that describes the austerity policies of this Government as amounting to “systematic violations” of the rights of disabled people, it is clear that the system is deeply flawed." "The Government’s Green Paper on disability employment support is a critical opportunity to get the system right for sick and disabled people, but one cannot help but be sceptical when they insist on pressing ahead with cuts to the ESA work-related activity group. The Government claim this will incentivise disabled people into work, despite there being no actual evidence to support this. The real barriers to returning to employment, such as ill health, the attitudes of employers, skills barriers, reasonable adjustments and the availability of suitable jobs are not addressed by cuts in financial support. In fact, creating additional financial pressure can make people less likely to return to the labour market, as the added stress damages their already fragile health." Patricia Gibson "......Employment and support allowance is a form of financial support for people with life-limiting conditions whose ability to live a fully satisfying life, something we would all hope for, is effectively removed. That should be remembered during debates such as this one—and during the assessments." "We have all heard stories: for those who have not heard them, Parkinson’s UK can keep them going all day. There are stories, for example, of people with Parkinson’s being asked by the work capability assessor, “How long are you likely to have Parkinson’s for?” "We know that the criteria for work capability assessment are flawed and that people whose conditions fluctuate are always at risk of what might, strangely—as it is all relative—be called a good day. Such things are not taken into account by the work capability assessment, and nor is the impact of pain and fatigue, or the degenerative nature of conditions such as Parkinson’s. As a result, too many employment and support allowance applicants are placed in the work-related activity group, instead of the much more appropriate support group, which recognises that the claimant is simply not well enough to work." Debbie Abrahams "What is so disappointing is that all the evidence—from the UN committees investigating human rights concerns and breaches of the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, from our own Equality and Human Rights Commission, from the Government’s Social Security Advisory Committee, from a whole list of well-respected charities, such as Parkinson’s UK, Scope and so on, and even from the Government’s own Back Benchers—is being completely ignored." BIT ABOUT SOMEONE WITH FIBRO AND CFS "Very briefly, I want mention another one of my constituents, a young woman who is going through the PIP process. She was a high-flyer, in a good career, and she is only in her 30s, but she is suffering from Lipedema, Dercum’s disease, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. She has pain in every part of her body, but particularly in her hands. She cannot even cook or prepare her own food. She has gone through the PIP process and she feels that it is just like a slap in the face. She needs that support to enable her to recover, and she feels that she is being thwarted at every turn."