MP to join charity cycle ride for Headway despite this week voting in favour of cutting disability benefit payments
16:24 11 March 2016
MP for Bury St Edmunds Jo Churchill, who backed the plans to cut the disability benefit this week, will be supporting Headway Suffolk’s Cycle Ride on Saturday April 23, it emerged yesterday.
But the MP said she saw no conflict in her decision to support the ride – despite the benefit cuts potentially impacting on some of the charity’s users.
“I reconcile it the same way I reconcile challenging the Government for cancer funding. I support a children’s charity and a cancer charity, too, because this is real life. It is a make-up, however imperfect, of charities and the Government coming to the table with that combined knowledge and pointing out where the problems are.”
She said she was very aware that the loss of £30 a week would be difficult and that the decision must strike a balance between assisting and encouraging individuals into employment.
“I want to stress, that no current claimant of Employment Support Allowance will lose any money and that these changes will be implemented on April 1 2017, for new applicants.
“Yet, if essential changes are not made, we severely risk putting a greater burden on individuals in years to come.
“Statistics show that disabled people have 30% less chance of employment. The Government – with the support of charities – aims to increase the number of those with physical and mental disabilities in work.
“These aspirations are the right ones and I am particularly keen that those with a disability should have a fair chance in the job market.”
Helen Fairweather, chief executive of Headway Suffolk, said: “Any cuts to our clients’ benefits we would not be in favour of because they are struggling on benefits already.
“A lot of them have to pay for their own care now as a result of county council cuts and many can’t afford to so we have to find a way of supporting them.
“On the other hand things like the bike ride help people in our care by raising funds to support our services.”
The brain injury charity’s annual sponsored event enters its eighth year having raised more than £30,000 since its inaugural year in 2009.
Jo Churchill will be joined by members of her team, while Headway will also be fielding their own team, joining the 50 cyclists signed up for the ride so far.
The fundraiser starts at 9am at Headway’s Ipswich Hub at Epsilon House on Ransomes Europark, where the circular route will also finish.