Deafblind activists join over 100 other disabled people at ‘mass lobby’ to meet with MPs

13 January 2016

Ian Capon, Gary Moritz and Sarvesvaran Navaratnam visited Parliament today, along with over 100 other disabled people from across the country to meet MPs to talk about their concerns with the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. 

Their visit was supported by national deafblind charity Sense, a member of the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) which organised the ‘mass lobby’. Ian, Gary and Sarvesvaran shared their concerns over the cuts, particularly to Employment Support Allowance (ESA), a benefit for people who are unable to work due to illness or disability. A recent Review by three members of the House of Lords gathered evidence from charities and disabled people and found that the Government’s proposed cut of £30 a week to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will directly contradict the Government’s desire to get more disabled people into work.*

Ian Capon said: 

“It’s often really difficult for people with disabilities to find good paid employment. Benefits are important because it ensures people have a reasonable standard of living whilst they look for work. If the cuts go ahead I am concerned that it will be even harder for people to find work as they will be pushed closer to poverty which could impact on their health, wellbeing and self-esteem.” 

Andrew Turner MP meets deafblind activitst

Gary Moritz said: 

“A lot of disabled people would love to get a job, not only for financial reasons but also for their self-esteem. The reality is however that myself and other disabled people face huge barriers to the workplace.  

I’m worried that the proposed benefits cuts could seriously jeopardise disabled people’s ability to make ends meet and maintain a reasonable standard of living. Today was a chance to voice my concerns directly to MPs to urge them to vote against the proposals.” 

Sarvesvaran Navaratnam said: 

“It is difficult for people with disabilities to find employment as we face huge barriers to the workplace; it’s often difficult to even make it to interview stage. I’m concerned that if benefits are cut it will be even harder for people to find work as they will be pushed closer to poverty which could impact on their health and wellbeing as they struggle to meet the costs of day today living. I hope that by taking part in today’s lobby we can bring about the change that’s needed.”

Sue Brown, Head of Public Policy at Sense said:

“We are pleased that so many MPs met with disabled people today, however it’s important that their concerns are taken seriously and urgent changes to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill are made.

Instead of providing an incentive to move into work, cutting this benefit will have a hugely negative impact on disabled people who are already struggling to get by. Instead, the government should concentrate on dismantling the real barriers preventing them from finding a job, such as negative attitudes from employers, failure to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace and inaccessible transport.”

Media enquiries

Please contact Laura Brown at the Sense press office on 0207 014 9381 (Out-of-hours 07770 580 843) or email Laura.Brown@Sense.org.uk for more information or high res photos.

Notes to editors

* ‘Halving the gap? –A review into the Government’s proposed reductions to Employment and Support Allowance and its impact on halving the disability employment gap

About Sense

Sense is a national charity that has been supporting and campaigning for children and adults who are deafblind for the last 60 years. There are currently around 250,000 deafblind people in the UK.

Sense provides specialist information, advice and services to deafblind people, their families, carers and the professionals who work with them. We run services across England, Wales and Northern Ireland and employ 2,000 people most of whom work in services directly with deafblind people. Our patron is HRH The Princess Royal.

Deafblindness is a combination of both sight and hearing difficulties. Some of these people are completely deaf and blind, but others have some remaining use of one or both senses.