I recently received an email from a disabled woman named Hannah who is very frightened about the impacts of the Welfare Reform Bill (of which the changes to the Employment Support Allowance are a substantial part). Since the passing of the motion on ESA at our autumn conference there is a tendency to view the issue as sorted. Unfortunately this is not the case as the bill is still going through the lords and constant pressure is vital to ensure that the necessary changes are made. And, as this email reiterates, the Lib Dems are now the only hope for 3 million sick and disabled people. Very few other people are listening to them and we are the only voice they can possibly hope to have inside government.
Hannah's name and various other details in the email have been changed to protect her anonymity.
Thank you once again for your response and the hopeful news but I can't allow myself to get all my hopes up yet and am still very frightened. My MP is unfortunately [blank] for [blank]. He doesn't seem to have a clue about Welfare Reform and just responds (when he can be bothered) to my letters with the standard Tory lines. I attended a local public meeting with him some months ago and he announced that 70% of people in the process of being transfered from IB to ESA had withdrawn their claim, his implication being that this was because they were fraudulent. I didn't feel that I could challenge this at the time as I sometimes feel quite intimidated by groups.
I would very much appreciate you forwarding a campaign update to me or indeed any other news regarding the ESA Time Limit in particular. I have already "adopted a peer". In fact I have written to all the Lords and MPs with email addresses (Anne Begg made reference to a letter that I had sent her in Parliament). My fear has made me absolutely obsessed with the ESA issue, I'm afraid. I contacted Libdem local council members prior to the Libdem conference asking that they support your motions. I must admit that I have been too paranoid about confidentiality if I go to the local press and it is one avenue that I have not explored. I do visit Diary of a Benefits Scrounger and the websites of other such organisations (Carerwatch is very good) as well as disability forums and organisations etc.
I contacted the journalist, Ian Birch who wrote an article about the Welfare Reform Bill and in particular the ESA Time Limit in the mental health magazine "One in Four". I have also contacted Amelia Gentleman from the Guardian who has written many articles in opposition to the WRB proposals but unfortunately in spite of my requests for her to write about the ESA Time Limit, she has never replied to me.
If you wish, I don't mind you using my details, but anonymously, if you think they might be useful to further the cause. If you need the details of any of my contacts, please say.
Please keep up the good work - the Libdems are now our last hope.