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Sitting At Home On Sickness Benefits Is Bad For Health Says Damian Green

October 31, 2016

Just when I was starting to think about liking Damian Green, he starts talking rubbish. Doesn’t he realise that many people on sickness/disability benefits have no choice but to sit at home?

Working is better for people’s health than “sitting at home living on benefits” for sickness and disability, the work and pensions secretary has said before the launch of a welfare review.

Damian Green will launch a consultation on disability and sickness benefits later on Monday. It will look specifically at how people qualify for sick pay and doctors’ notes, and review the controversial work capability assessments which determine whether disabled people are eligible for welfare.

Charities have welcomed the review of the WCA but there are some concerns that sick and disabled people could be pressured to return to work before they are ready.

Green said the purpose of encouraging people to work was to improve their health as well as for the government to spend less on benefits.

“In the long run there is nothing more expensive than saying to someone, ‘Here’s a benefit you can have for the rest of your life and we will ignore you,’” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“It’s not only expensive but bad for the individual concerned. The great mindset change I want to achieve is the acceptance that a good job is good for your health. The idea that sitting at home living on benefits is in any way good for people, particularly people with a mental health condition, is completely wrong.”

Ministers released little detail about how sick pay and fit notes, previously known as sick notes, would be changed, but said they wanted to “support workers back into their jobs faster and for longer”.

It could involve a more concentrated effort to encourage phased returns to work, so workers continue to get some sick pay after returning to their jobs, and more contact between employers and sick employees.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, highlighted the growing cost of long-term sickness to the NHS and suggested getting people back to work had major health benefits.

He said it cost £7bn to treat long-term health conditions that kept people out of work, and suggested that employment could be a part of recovery.

“This green paper launches a wide-ranging debate about recognising the value of work as a health outcome,” he said. “With all the evidence showing that work is a major driver of health, this is a big opportunity: to make sure that people get the support they need, improve their health, and benefit the NHS all at the same time. I hope that health professionals will contribute their expertise so that we can ensure the best possible outcomes.”

Duncan Selbie, the chief executive of Public Health England, said health, wellbeing and happiness were “inextricably linked to work”.

 

“People in work generally have better health, so it makes perfect sense for the government to do all it can to support employers to close the gap around employment, disability and illness and to enable people to work when they can,” Selbie said.

The consultation document will have a specific focus on helping those with mental health problems and musculoskeletal conditions, such as arthritis.

Green appears to be unwinding some of the policies of his predecessor, Iain Duncan Smith, by reconsidering the work capability assessment. He announced at the Conservative party conference that people with severe, long-term health conditions would no longer have to be reassessed for their benefits under the WCA.

In his Today interview, Green also dismissed the idea of halting cuts to universal credit, which Duncan Smith and some other Conservative MPs are pushing to be reconsidered at the autumn statement.

The cuts will be made to the work allowance element of universal credit, which will ultimately replace tax credits as the way of receiving in-work benefits.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. jeffrey davies permalink
    October 31, 2016 10:49 am

    do you honestly think theyl change hmmm Working is better for people’s health than “sitting at home living on benefits” for sickness and disability, the work and pensions secretary has said before the launch of a welfare review. yet working for many is out so theyl now come for those in sg you better watch out aktion t4 rolling along while our mps discuss it oh dear me jeff3

  2. Catherine Cooper permalink
    October 31, 2016 11:55 am

    Gob smacked! As a retired, (on health grounds,) registered nurse, with severe osteoarthritis then I know that most people who are off sick cannot work! Mental health or physical health can be confirmed by doctors and the government must stop harassing the sick and disabled. I can only imagine that Damian Green has never been ill, because he certainly has no understanding of illness on human beings! Time the doctors, nurses etc. started shouting loudly against this cruel Tory government.

    • slap7 permalink
      October 31, 2016 11:46 pm

      Ken Loach described the Tories as practising “conscious cruelty” – how right he is.

  3. October 31, 2016 12:37 pm

    Great post!

  4. October 31, 2016 3:15 pm

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  5. October 31, 2016 4:28 pm

    I am thinking ,,,,, that everytime i see or hear the word REFORM,I cringe and i immediately think…here we go again. what “delights” are they dreaming up now to throw at people who cannot work. are too ill or disabled. (they know lots in this situation haven’t the energy to fight them) jobless etc.. not a lot left they can do now i shouldnt wonder, short of stopping all benefits and going back to the poor laws of Victorian times.

  6. Ray permalink
    November 1, 2016 12:29 am

    Next stop for us the gas chambers.

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