On Wednesday 13 January James, one of our employees travelled down to Westminster to Lobby Space Inclusive’s Members of Parliament (MPs). It was a great to be at such an historic place as Westminster Hall, where so many historic events have taken place like Barack Obama’s speech to Parliament and the Trial of Charles I. However, there was a serious reason why we were there too.
The government has announced that they will be introducing a Welfare Reform and Work Bill. It is planned that benefits for many disabled people and families rely on will be reduced. According to the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) who organised the Lobby, it particularly affect people on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). As many of our clients are on ESA it was important we speak up for them.
The government proposal is to cut the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) rate of ESA by almost £30 a week. Sadly, a DBC report found that the cut would leave thousands of disabled people and their families in poverty, making it harder for them to move in work as they spent their time struggling to make ends meet.
We felt it was important Space Inclusive should join charities like Mencap, Rethink and the National Autistic Society in talking to our MPs in order for them to know how we feel about the changes.
The lobby itself was a great success. Over 100 MPs were spoken too, including ours. Alan Meale, the MP for Mansfield (Where our Mansfield Woodhouse site is based) said he was more than happy to help were he could and said he thought the work we did sounded very interesting.
Similarly, Chris Leslie, MP for Nottingham East (Where our Mansfield Street and Pelham Road sites are) was very supportive. Having visited Space Inclusive a few years ago he said he was happy to hear we were going from strength to strength.
We’d like to thank Alan and Chris for their time in talking to us. As far as the Lobby itself went it was a great success. However, we hope that as well as listening and talking a good talk, they can help in doing something now for people with learning disabilities and their families.
Finally on a personal note James would like to thank Mencap and the other DBC organisations for inviting him to the lobby in the first place and for being such excellent company whilst he was waiting to see the MPs.