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IDS To Call For Urgent ESA Overhaul As Part Of Drive To Reduce Welfare Costs

August 24, 2015

Disabled people and those too sick to work will be the next group feeling the impact of the Government’s drive to reduce the cost of welfare and the numbers out of work.

In a major speech on Monday, the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith will warn that Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – the benefit paid to the sick and disabled – needs to be urgently overhauled, because too few ESA claimants are being helped to get work.

He also wants the system for deciding who is eligible for ESA tightened up.

 Since he took on responsibility for overhauling the welfare state in 2010, Mr Duncan Smith has seen the number of people on Jobseekers’ Allowance fall by almost 700,000, nearly halving the 2010 figure, but the numbers on ESA have stayed stubbornly high at more than 2.5 million, a fall of about 90,000.

He blames a fault in the way ESA was devised. He is expected to say: “When ESA was introduced in 2008 it was intended to be a short-term benefit, with the vast majority of people being helped to return to work.

“ESA may have been designed with the right intentions, but at its heart lay a fundamental flaw.  It is a system that decides you are either capable of work or you are not. This needs to change – things are rarely that simplistic.

“We need to look at the assessment we use for ESA – and I want to look at changing it so that it is better geared towards helping to get people prepared for and into what work they may be capable of, rather than parking them beyond work.”

Mr Duncan Smith is adamant that people who are genuinely too ill to work will still be protected by the welfare state, and he will stress that for many people – particularly those with mental issues – being in work acts as an effective therapy.

But others may fear that he is reacting to pressure to cut the welfare bill by any means that he can.

The Chancellor George Osborne wants the social security budget reduced by £13bn a year by 2020-21.

In his budget speech in July, Mr Osborne announced a £640bn cut in welfare payments for people in the work related activity group (WRAG), who are categorised as not fit enough for work, but able to carry out “work related activity”– a move condemned by disability rights campaigners.

According to the Disability News Service, the percentage of people living in households where at least one member was disabled and who were in “absolute poverty” rose from 27 per cent in 2012-13 to 30 per cent in 2013-14, an increase of about a tenth in just one year. It is feared that the drive to reduce the cost of ESA will mean more disabled people living in poverty.

Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said that many disabled people would welcome what Mr Duncan Smith is proposing, if it turns out that the reforms genuinely help people to find work – but not if it proved to be simply a way of cutting the welfare budget.

She said: “One of the problems has been that the work programme has totally failed people on ESA. The figures for getting people on ESA into work are very poor. Some people do want to work, with the right kind of support.

“We would like to see radical changes to the work programme in which it was really tailored to individual needs. If there was investment in that, you might see greater numbers of sick and disabled going into work, and that would be great.

“You also need a recognition that some people are not well enough to work, and reducing the money they get will simply drive more disabled people into poverty.”

7 Comments leave one →
  1. nick permalink
    August 24, 2015 12:28 am

    IDS will not stop and will continue in this manner to persecute until most sick and disabled are dead.

    For the life of me, I can’t see he has any other option as his mind is not normal

    He may well get to target some who may be able to do a little work but it will be death for those that get drawn in to a system so heavily against them who can’t work

    I fear for all sick and disabled as it has been many years now that they have been battling a system that has ultimately killed many with many more to come

    • August 24, 2015 8:45 am

      It took me years Nick to obtain any help with my disability. I originally had a successful claim for DLA which I used entirely to pay for taxis to and from work. When I couldn’t get a definite diagnosis for my illness however I failed the reassessment and had to give up work as a result.

      Then years of working a bit, collapsing and taking time off, starved back into work as I could only claim income support as a sick person. Then finally when I could take no more (and I didn’t know how much more sick I was going to get), I asked social services to put me in a care home. They didn’t, provided carers, helped me obtain DLA again, and I was able to work for another 3 years. Then in 2009 I had massive deterioration and had to finish work completely; I’ve never recovered and seem to become worse with each week that passes.

      I have a care reassessment this week. Before that’s even started I’ve been told that there is now ‘doubt’ about my care needs because – as the ‘assessor’ put it in the telephone call (‘assessor’ because rather than the degree level assessor you used to have, their replacements can hardly put a sentence together) – ‘you haven’t even got a diagnosis have you?’. So it doesn’t matter how hard it was for me to claim benefits, I now have to prove to social services that I’m ill too: how do you do that? My assessor has no healthcare qualifications, if any.

      Now the ESA/PIP process is going to be a whole new ball game. It’s never ending. We just want to be left alone to be ill, but that’s not going to happen. If I could escape this never ending Kafkaesque existence by finding a job, believe me I absolutely would; I was earning £50 an hour back in 2009, and I’d go back to work in a shot if I could.

  2. Bookworm permalink
    August 24, 2015 8:50 am

    I really think IDS has modelled his strategy on Nazi Germany. The propaganda, lies and inhumanity are breathtaking in their arrogance. I see no end to this unless Corbyn or someone similar manages to achieve a Labour govt who reverse the measures we’ve suffered under. General public mostly don’t care as they are fed continously on ‘scrounger’ disinformation.

  3. August 24, 2015 11:06 am

    The magic and miracles will happen at two new Disability Assessment Centres in London and Stoke on Trent. Run in-house rather than outsourced, their two-year mission will be to trial new policies and develop shiny new ways of getting sick and disabled people off ESA. Its saving grace is that uniquely they seem concerned on assessors and managers having and keeping professional clean medical registration – a huge spanner in the works considering the crimes of the current system.

    The DWP are currently advertising for clinical managers for both centres and the advert gives clues to their plans. If anyone wants a look, or is Panglossian or sociopathic enough to risk their career and soul by applying, can do so here:

    • nick permalink
      August 24, 2015 11:21 am

      The job Chris is mainly targeted at doctors coming up for retirement. they either apply for this type of job or the cruise liners
      i myself would go for the cruise liners as getting involved with the DWP at any level risks your death irrespective of who you are

  4. August 24, 2015 11:23 am

    Although they say, on the forms, not to send info from websites I do just that, it’s info they wouldn’t read otherwise, I just remove the header and footer to replace it with the custom setting of NAME, First line of Address & NINO, both top and bottom. People should really learn to say FECK YOU to DWP and Maximus form requests regarding info as well as ATOS & CAPITA for PIP. They only put this because they want the claimant to believe they look it up to see how an illness can affect a person when the only info they use is their lack of knowledge on illness

  5. August 24, 2015 6:46 pm

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

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