The Commons could be forced into an emergency debate on disability benefit cuts after almost 100,000 people signed a petition condemning moves which will result in claimants losing £1,500 a year.
Conservative MPs are facing a backlash in their constituencies over plans to reduce payments under the employment and support allowance (ESA) to disabled people judged fit for “work-related activity”. The measure, which will save £1.4bn over four years and which has been condemned by charities, will mean weekly payments for new claimants being cut from £102.15 to £73.10 in April 2017.
A petition calling for a reversal of the cuts has been signed by 96,000. When it attracts 100,000 signatures, the issue has to be considered for a Commons debate.
The petition claims the reductions will “cripple those in receipt of these benefits, leaving many in poverty”. It claims: “Lives are at risk.”
Rossanna Trudgian, head of campaigns at Mencap, said: “The Government is clearly at odds with the public when it comes to cutting ESA. They have been told time and time again by experts and disabled people that the cut will push them further away from the job market.”
The Conservative MP Kit Malthouse has been forced to resign as patron of the Multiple Sclerosis charity’s board in his Hampshire constituency of Andover because of his support in a Commons vote this month. Its chairwoman said he was no longer suitable to hold the post. The Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith, Tory candidate for London Mayor, has been criticised by a disability charity of which he is a patron for voting for the cuts.