Benefit Issues in Easington
On Wednesday I attended Citizen’s Advice’s event in Parliament in which they gave MPs a constituency breakdown of the main issues constituents are visiting Citizen’s Advice Bureau to seek advice about.
The top issues affecting my constituents in Easington are household debt and benefit issues including the introduction of universal credit, and both of these problems are symptomatic of our broken benefits system. The significant barriers to accessing benefits, even for those entitled to them, are holding back many of my constituents in Easington. The same barriers also end up driving some people into debt in order to simply pay their household bills. Constituents with disabilities are being particular disadvantaged with over 1300 constituents having issues with their Personal Independence Payment application and 1200 having issues with Employment Support Allowance. Though it appears to be less of a severe issue, many of my constituents are also faced with issues in their application for Housing Benefit.
The bureaucracy of the current benefit system has increasingly become a nightmare and is barring many people from accessing payments that they are entitled to. The system is overly complex and contains too many complicated assessments which leave families waiting long periods for payments they are actually entitled to.
So I was proud to stand on a manifesto in last year’s General Election pledging to properly fund Universal Credit, scrap the assessment system for Personal Independence Payments, ensure there is parity between people with physical and mental health conditions in PIP cases and to increase Employment Support Allowance by £30 a week. My party also pledged to end the pointless reassessing of people already found to have severe long-term conditions.
Citizen’s Advice themselves also offer the advice that is often necessary to help proceed with a claim and find out if you are entitled to claim in the first place. The work done by the Citizen’s Advice is indispensable and without them many people would struggle even more with the current welfare system. You can visit Citizen’s Advice in both Peterlee and Seaham.