Plan for sickness benefit cut to ‘incentivise’ claimants

Too ill to work means too ill to live: Work capability assessors have already been asking people with serious illnesses and disabilities why they have not committed suicide - now the DWP has proposed changes to benefits that could nudge claimants into it.

Too ill to work means too ill to live: Work capability assessors have already been asking people with serious illnesses and disabilities why they have not committed suicide – now the DWP has proposed changes to benefits that could nudge claimants into it.

A plan to cut £30 per week from the benefit of some of the UK’s most vulnerable people was being considered before the general election – and may be announced by George Osborne next week.

According to the BBC, the Department for Work and Pensions has been proposing to abolish the Work-Related Activity Group of Employment and Support Allowance, meaning a £30 cut in benefit every week for people who would have been put in that category.

This would bring payments in line with Jobseekers’ Allowance. It seems the stated reason is to give people less reason to worry that they are getting the “wrong” outcome from the infamous work capability assessments that are a mandatory part of claiming the benefit.

The paper also proposes renaming the assessment tests “employment capability assessments”, in order to focus attention on job-seeking rather than benefit-seeking.

There is so much wrong with this plan that it is hard to know where to start – and even more reasons to find fault with the BBC’s report.

For a start, the £30 extra that WRA Group members of the ESA receive is not a “top-up”, as described in the BBC report (and, one suspects, in the leaked DWP document); it is the amount that the law says sick people who are preparing to return to work should receive.

If a work capability assessment leads to a false report about a claimant’s condition, it will be wrong no matter what amount of benefit would be paid to the claimant afterwards.

This is fraud – obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception – and would still be fraud if the amount of money paid in the WRAG was the same as that paid on JSA because the conditions of the benefits are different. JSA claimants are forced to carry out many (pointless) activities every week in order to satisfy jobseeking requirements – most, if not all, of which would be beyond the abilities of people who are sick but have wrongly been forced off the benefit they need. They would then be forced off JSA – and we would be looking at another chequebook euthanasia situation.

But don’t worry – the government has deniability! If people can’t survive because they have been pushed off-benefit, and decide to take their own lives in order to gain release from the misery… that’s their own decision, isn’t it? It’s nothing to do with the government lying about them!

At least, that’s the line that Iain Duncan Smith’s DWP will take.

Interestingly, the stated reason for re-naming work capability assessments is that they currently focus on what claimants can’t do, rather than what they can. This is not true.

Anyone who has followed the degenerate progress of Iain Duncan Smith’s reforms will be able to present a list of silly claims made by assessors to support their assertion that a sick claimant is “fit for work”. The classic is the person who, despite being severely disabled, was able to press a button. Just that – nothing else. “Fit for work”.

And that’s focusing on what the claimant can’t do?

The BBC wheels out Charlie Pickles (who?) from Tory think tank Reform, to explain why the toffs think stealing more money from the sick is a good idea.

According to the BBC, he said the current system encourages people to stay on the benefit rather than finding work.

There seems to be a word missing here. Let’s put it back in and see how it reads:

“The current system encourages sick people to stay on the benefit rather than finding work.”

Why shouldn’t it?

If a person is sick, they shouldn’t be asked to go to work.

Finally, where are the jobs?

Pickles prattles: “We have a huge gap between disabled people’s employment rate and non-disabled people’s employment rate.” Perhaps that’s to do with the fact that the Tories closed Remploy (the organisation that employed disabled people) during the Coalition Government and has not provided any incentives for other employers to take on workers with extra needs.

Clearly Pickles hadn’t thought of that. This Reform ‘think tank’ of his can’t be much cop.

But then, neither is the DWP’s plan.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have enjoyed 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:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:



  1. Mili July 2, 2015 at 11:12 am - Reply

    Tweeted @melissacade68

  2. tina millis July 2, 2015 at 11:22 am - Reply

    also looking at the bbc page, this government may be looking at redefining support group, so they may change the goal posts again for criteria, so many of those who are in the support group will fail to pass

  3. M de Mowbray July 2, 2015 at 11:29 am - Reply

    If the Tories spent 1 thousandth as much effort in maximising UK’s INCOME (i.e. plugging tax loopholes and preventing foreign corporations from taking over) as they do on kicking the poorest and sickest people, our economy would be fine and cuts not needed.

  4. AM-FM July 2, 2015 at 11:56 am - Reply

    “She spent two years as Expert Advisor to Iain Duncan Smith.”
    “Before that she was Policy Director at the Centre for Social Justice.”

    We don’t need to know anything more.

  5. hstorm July 2, 2015 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    Perhaps it’s time to introduce an inheritance cap to incentivise excessively-rich people into not dying until they’ve done some real work?

  6. jampot July 2, 2015 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    When are the reductions going to actually start Mike.

    • Mike Sivier July 2, 2015 at 3:12 pm - Reply

      At some point after next week’s budget. Possibly after midnight on that day.

  7. paulrutherford8 July 2, 2015 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    Same old story in #ToryUK… the rich and well-off are ‘encouraged’ by rewards, while the poor and vulnerable are ‘encouraged’ by threats, cuts, sanctions and vilification.

    My disgust grows daily.

  8. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl) July 2, 2015 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    This talk of people being on the sick-list in order to get benefit is nothing more than a confidence trick rumour by the DWP in order to further its unethical and unclean way of depriving those in need for those of greed. No self-respecting GP would sign a person on to sickness benefit and that is the only person fit to make a judgment which does not hinge on a vested interest, unlike IDS. Surely this is a matter to be brought before the European Court of Justice.

    • Mike Sivier July 2, 2015 at 1:00 pm - Reply

      I take it you mean no self-respecting GP would sign a person onto sickness benefit if they weren’t ill.

      • Donna Norbury July 2, 2015 at 2:17 pm - Reply

        We I was told that we received this money on esa in order to attend the Wrag and now they are stopping it so why therefore should I have to attend Wrag?? Also it is fraud on the government’s behalf as they are going against GPs and telling lies about ill people which I have already witnessed myself as when I went to atos I told them I can not deal with change and also I could not at the time do most of the exercise I was asked to do and I’m blind in my left eye when I received the letter after it stated that I said I could see perfectly that I can deal with change and that I was fully able to complete all the exercise I was asked to complete if that was me the government would have had me in court so therefore why can I not have them in court?? And they are not medically trained my gp is. What these people are is sick individuals as proved by that statement above asking disabled people why they have not yet committed suicide :( disgusting! ! I agree with the comment chequebook euthanasia!

        • Mike Sivier July 2, 2015 at 3:19 pm - Reply

          Chequebook euthanasia isn’t a comment – it’s a documented phenomenon. First coined with reference to Nazi Germany. Quelle surprise.

          • Donna Norbury July 2, 2015 at 4:06 pm

            Sorry I apologise mike but basically ally they may as well kill dick and disabled people cause that us what they are trying to do

          • Mike Sivier July 2, 2015 at 5:49 pm

            Who’s dick?

  9. bookmanwales July 2, 2015 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    This is now becoming a sick joke..

    I despair at what this country is becoming, especially so when it’s done with the complicity of normal everyday people purely by their lack of sympathy and interest in what happens to their fellow man.

    As a recipient of both tax credits and DLA I spend every day wondering when the brown envelopes are going to arrive and I will lose most of my income.

    I can and do work when I can and have done so for the last 40 years. However, I am now 57 in poor health and competing against a mass of younger more able people for the few jobs that are available. Let’s be honest if you are an employer who are you going to employ ?

    My daily thought revolve around how soon I will die to avoid becoming a starving, destitute nobody, the only reason I haven’t already given up is for the sake of my teen son but as he gets older and more able to cope I see less and less reason to carry on and often fall asleep hoping I don’t have to wake up.

    I am not and have never been on sickness or incapacity benefit but as my health deteriorates the day is not far off when I will have no choice, but, seeing the avalanche of hatred directed at anyone unfit to work by this government I would rather die than put myself through months of starving and begging for a measly few pounds that will barely keep me alive.

    • Mike Sivier July 2, 2015 at 12:59 pm - Reply

      That’s exactly how the Tories want you to feel.

  10. Nick Fourbanks July 2, 2015 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    Paula Peters‎National Remembrance for the DWP/ATOS Dead

    Can you please add my friend Peter Grand to the list never to be forgotten please, peter was a mental health campaigner, whose doctors argued over who to pay for funding for his cancer treatment, he was found fit for work on the day of his funeral which was 7th May the day of the election, Peter widow came home from peter’s funeral to a letter from the DWP which caused her terrible distress.

    Rest in Peace Peter, will never forget you!

    This is 21st friend I have lost to the welfare reforms, may they rest in peace and may all the human beings that are no longer here may never ever be forgotten, In our hearts for ever.

  11. mrmarcpc July 2, 2015 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    These twisted b*****ds are out of control, anything they can think of to punish the poor and the sick, they’ll think of it, this is what you get when you let the ruling classes still breed and exist, time they were removed from power and the sooner, the better!

  12. sally July 2, 2015 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    I’m absolutely outraged at this latest moving of goalposts, redefinition of illness and disablement and yet more vilification of claimants. I refuse to feel ashamed, less-than or undeserving of dignity and respect; anger is a very healthy emotion when there is something worth feeling angry about.

    Yes, MIke: Charlie Pickles (who?), indeed!
    There is NO Charlie Pickles at Reform. There is a Charlotte Pickles, a woman who started there in 2014 and spent two years as Expert Advisor to Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, helping to design and deliver the Government’s welfare agenda.
    Either this is very sloppy journalism from the BBC or it is propaganda and misdirection intentionally misreported to take the focus off the author of yet another statement of vilification and blame aimed at disabled people.

  13. Ian July 2, 2015 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    This could be a soften up exercise, making people think the worst is coming then doing something less harsh so they can claim to be showing compassion in ignoring advice and all WRG claimants breathe a sigh of relief.

    Also: ‘Pickles prattles: “We have a huge gap between disabled people’s employment rate and non-disabled people’s employment rate.” . Well no s***, Sherlock. That might be down to the fact that disabled people are, like, disabled and stuff? Clue’s in the word ‘disabled’. This nonentity Pickles is either very, very dim or a disingenuous bastard.

    • HomerJS July 2, 2015 at 4:02 pm - Reply

      “This nonentity Pickles is either very, very dim or a disingenuous bastard.”

      Or could be both . . .?

  14. Ian Buchan July 2, 2015 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    Unfortunately too many disabled people have been left to feel like that by this autocratic Government. Just like bookman I feel sad to see that even less of society appear unwilling to voice their displeasure let alone take action. Contrary to popular belief ‘money’ does not make the world go round.. it takes the People. This government are the servants of the people and are in autocratic power by default, therefore let the People ACT! Not sit on our hands and keep dumb.

    • mrmarcpc July 2, 2015 at 5:29 pm - Reply

      The problem with the people of this country Ian is that they have no balls as well as brains, are quite prepared to let the state do whatever the hell they like, never lifting a finger, never saying a word to stop them and then have the cheek to complain and wonder why the country’s in the state it’s in, time for the British to grow a spine and a voice and get up off our arses and onto our feet and all rally as one and cry out “NO MORE!”

  15. A-Brightfuture July 2, 2015 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    So effectively the WRAG group is still going to be a toxic melting pot to keep the unemployment figures low.

    That’s all this group is, a dark place of no mans land, where one is subjected to the sadistic nonsense that goes round and round.

    A holding pen for “stock” until IDS wants the figures to balance, and while waiting, the “stock” gets a dollop of abuse.

  16. mrmarcpc July 2, 2015 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    Wish there was something we could do to pressure them into not cutting £30 or whatever it’s going to be, if they get away with this, more people are going to struggle living from day to day, be more pressure put on charities and local councils, as usual, these useless posh boys and girls haven’t thought a bloody thing through, well they have, to shaft us anyway possible!

  17. mrmarcpc July 2, 2015 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    WRAG ESA and it’s the same rate as JSA so there is no need to bring it into line as it already is.

  18. Timro July 2, 2015 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    I’ve just seen Charlie Pickles on the BBC1 Six O’Clock News. Some drippy little nondescript unelected girl who appears to one of those be pulling Iain Duncan Smith’s strings. Isn’t it kind of weird to have people like her and David Freud chewing up social security with no mandate from the people? What’s the point of having elections if MPs just delegate to unelected people and task them with coming up with policies?

  19. Tony Dean July 2, 2015 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    Should anyone wish to contact Charlotte Pickles to tell here the error of her ways her contact details are public domain:-

    [email protected]

    020 33271182

  20. Paul Paul Paul Billanie July 2, 2015 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    Absolutely awful policy. I wonder if they will do the same with the support group at some point and also for those on DLA/PIP currently getting the severe disability premium (when they are on middle rate DLA or standard PIP) which is around £60 extra for those living alone. I hope that these are all just rumours and scaremongering myself but sadly I seriously doubt it. And this at a time when there is also the consideration AGAIN to cut the top rate of tax from 45p to 40p for the richest. It just beggers belief that they can get away with what amounts to murder.

  21. Natalie Graham July 3, 2015 at 1:18 am - Reply

    Cutting sickness benefits to “incentivise” people to work is like finding a drowning man out at sea clinging to a life belt and then taking the life belt away to “incentivise” him to get to land.

Leave A Comment