Zac Goldsmith criticised by disability charity he is a patron of after voting for ESA cuts

The MP is a patron of Richmond AID

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Indy Politics

A disability charity that Zac Goldsmith is a patron of has criticised the MP for voting in favour of sharp disability benefit cuts. 

Richmond AID said it was “shocked and disappointed” that Mr Goldsmith, the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London, had voted for the £30-a-week cut to Employment and Support Allowance

The charity, which lists the Richmond MP as a patron on their website, said it would ask him to come to their office to explain his decision.

Iain Duncan Smith says the cuts will actually help disabled people

Mr Goldsmith’s campaign declined to comment when approached by the Independent.

“We believe this cut moves disabled people further away from the workplace and increases the social isolation of people that are already vulnerable and experiencing barriers whilst seeking employment,” said Lucy Byrne, the charity’s chief executive.

“We are shocked and disappointed to find that both our local MPs here in the borough of Richmond have voted for this cut and plan to invite both MPs to our offices to explain the impact this will have on disabled people.”

Mr Goldsmith voted in favour of the cut to ESA, which applies to new claimants in the “work-related activity group” (WRAG) track from April 2017.

Disability charities have warned that the cut will seriously impact disabled people, while the Government argues it will incentivise them to find work.

Previous research by the Disability Benefits Consortium of 60+ charities suggests that 28 per cent of people on the current, higher WRAG rate have been unable to afford to eat, while 38 per cent have been unable to heat their homes.

Figures reported by the Independent today show that more than half of people who appeal “fit to work” decisions by the DWP on their ESA are found to actually be too ill to work.

Owen Smith, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, argued Mr Goldsmith’s position on the disability cuts meant he was not an appropriate choice for Mayor of London.

“It is shocking that someone who wants to be Mayor of London voted to take £30 a week away from half a million disabled people - at a time when they are already struggling to make ends meet. Zac Goldsmith is not fit to be Mayor of London,” he said.

Mr Goldsmith is facing Labour candidate Sadiq Khan, Green Candidate Sian Berry, Liberal Democrat candidate Caroline Pidgeon, and Ukip candidate Peter Whittle, amongst others. The election will take place this May.