Yes, he lied again.
He said he would end repeat assessments for people on ESA with “the most severe, lifetime conditions” – but his Green Paper proposes measures to make such assessments continual.
The idea is to try to force people off the Support Group of ESA by telling them that going to work will magically make them healthy again – despite the fact that being in the Support Group in the first place suggests the exact opposite – and then threatening them with sanctions if they don’t go through all the stressful and pointless tasks associated with ‘work-related activity’.
Basically, it would turn the Support Group into a larger Work-Related Activity Group with no deadline for coming off-benefit and a much higher mortality rate.
You see, there’s no need for repeat assessments when you can just refer someone with a serious condition to a “work coach”.
The stress of being referred could kill a claimant straight away. If not, then the stress of having to undergo ‘work-related activity’ could do it. Finally, it is always possible that the stress of simply having to keep in touch with these small-minded box-tickers will snuff out the life from any claimants who are left.
If not, then failure to comply with instructions (due to sickness or disability) would allow the DWP to sanction a claimant off-benefit – most probably to die at some point after the Department ceases to monitor their condition.
It’s quite easy to understand the underlying reason for this planned change: The Support Group has been getting very large lately – uncomfortably so for the Conservatives, who have always been convinced that most people on sickness benefits have been faking it.
(That is an attitude that arises from the Tory government of 1979-97, when millions of people were dumped onto sickness benefits by Margaret Thatcher and John Major in order to make their unemployment figures look acceptable to a gullible electorate.)
Unfortunately for the Tories, most people on sickness benefits aren’t faking it.
This Writer reckons the plan – if allowed to happen – will amount to wholesale death. A slaughter of the innocents, if you like.
Here are the relevant paragraphs, quoted from the Benefits and Work website:
“131. Instead, it ought to be possible to build a more effective approach to assessing entitlement to financial and employment support. For instance, establishing entitlement to financial support could still be decided by an assessment, but that assessment could be used solely to determine whether an individual should get additional financial support. Decisions on whether someone should engage with Jobcentre Plus or specialist programmes could then be made through a separate process. This would avoid the current situation where someone’s entitlement to additional financial support can also result in them being given no employment support.
“132. For instance, trained work coaches could have discretion to make case-by-case decisions about the type of employment support a person is able to engage with. To do this effectively, they would work closely with the person, building on information gathered at early discussions such as the Health and Work Conversation to ensure they are signposted to help that is appropriate to their needs. Work coaches will be able to draw on additional advice where needed, from Disability Employment Advisers and Community Partners, and could access specialist advice such as occupational health and Jobcentre Plus work psychologists where individuals have more complex health conditions.
“133. That important relationship with a work coach would then continue beyond the assessment, ensuring those assessed as needing the most financial support can still access the holistic health and employment support and signposting offered by and through Jobcentre Plus. Work coaches could have full discretion to tailor any employment support to each individual claimant. This approach would be truly responsive, allowing the work coach to adjust requirements and goals dependent on changes in a person’s condition or circumstances. This is particularly important for people with fluctuating health conditions, as the support available would always be reflective of their needs.
“134. This would mean that people are really offered a personalised service that takes appropriate account of their needs while still receiving the same financial support as under the current system – rather than having the offer of employment support determined by a fixed category. We would of course put safeguards in place to ensure that work coaches do not require someone to attend an appointment where this would not be reasonable.”
The Department for Work and Pensions is considering forcing all sick and disabled people on out-of-work disability benefits to take part in “mandatory” activity, its new green paper has revealed.
Such a change would mean that all people on out-of-work disability benefits – even those who are terminally-ill or have the very highest support needs – would have to stay in regular touch with their local jobcentre or risk having their benefits sanctioned.
The measure would affect those in the support group of employment and support allowance (ESA) – and the equivalent group in the new universal credit – a group which is currently not expected to carry out any work-related activity at all.
It comes only a month after the new work and pensions secretary, Damian Green, secured widespread praise for announcing an end to repeat assessments for those on ESA with “the most severe, lifetime conditions”.
He said then that the government would “sweep away unnecessary stress and bureaucracy which weigh them down” and that “if someone has a disease which can only get worse, making them turn up for repeated appointments to claim what they need is pointless bureaucratic nonsense”.
Now Green (pictured, announcing some details of the green paper to MPs) appears to have decided that the same group of people should be forced into repeated contact with a “work coach”, or lose some of their benefits.
Asked about this inconsistency, a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokeswoman did not deny the possibility of mandatory activity for all those in the support group.
She said: “We recognise that people in the support group have limited capability for work related activity – but that does not necessarily mean they should be left without any support at all.
“We believe it is important to give claimants the opportunity to take up the offer of personalised and tailored support if it is appropriate for them, regardless of what group they are placed in following the WCA.”
Do you want Vox Political to cover a story? Use this form to tell us about it (but NOT to comment on the article above, please):
Join the Vox Political Facebook page.
If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!
Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:
Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.
The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:
Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:
The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here: