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Anger: People taking part in a welfare-to-work protest in London in 2012 [Image: PA].

We know from the Autumn Statement that Mandatory Work Activity and Community Work Placements are being scrapped.

This has been welcomed by organisations like Boycott Workfare, who have campaigned against the enforced “work 30 hours per week for your benefits” schemes ever since they were introduced in 2011.

But it is only being replaced by something which is potentially much worse: the so-called Work and Health Programme.

According to the Daily Mirror, this new scheme aims to help long-term sick people find a job, “but a DWP spokesman could not confirm whether it will involve forced labour because the details have not yet been drawn up”.

To This Writer, it seems like an amalgamation of the ‘workfare’ schemes with the current ‘Health and Work Service’. You see? All they’ve done is reverse the words.

Health and Work is intended to prevent people from taking sick leave from their jobs that lasts any longer than four weeks (if This Writer recalls correctly).

Current operator Maximus (which also operated the Work Programme in a clear conflict of interest) was tasked with running a “work-focused occupational health assessment” which “will identify the issues preventing an employee from returning to work and draw up a plan for them, their employer and GP, recommending how the employee can be helped back to work more quickly”.

So it seems the scheme will be rolled out to lump in people who have jobs – but are ill – with people who don’t have jobs and make them all jump through the same hoops in order to keep their benefits or sick pay.

Health won’t get a look-in and it seems likely that the scheme will make sick workers even less able to return to their jobs than if they are left alone to get on with it. In other words, they’ll be treated like ESA claimants.

This seems extremely contradictory.

On one hand, the Conservative Government is saying it is trying to get as many people off benefits and into work as possible, but on the other hand, the same Tories are saying once you get into work, you’d better not get sick, because you’ll be treated like a person on benefits!

It’s another incremental erosion of the rights of UK citizens, reminiscent of the words of Adolf Hitler: “The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way, the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.”

But then, so much of the Conservative Government’s behaviour is directly relatable to the Nazis – especially where the Department for Work and Pensions is concerned (“Arbeit macht frei”, Mr Duncan Smith?) so perhaps we should not be surprised.

All this is mere speculation, of course.

It will be interesting to see how much of it corresponds with the reality – when the DWP finally unveils it.

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