It looks like there’s a new drive to push benefit claimants onto private insurance schemes that aren’t likely to pay out. Happy New Year.
The article quoted below appeared on the ConservativeHome blog on December 29. It is by one Matthew Oakley, who joined ‘independent’ public policy think tank the Social Market Foundation (SMF) as a senior researcher in July 2015 after having been with Which?, and an ‘economic adviser’ to the Treasury.
It is evidenceless policy, rather than evidence-based research, and therefore deeply flawed. The whole idea of getting a million disabled people into work, regardless of their personal circumstances, is nonsense.
This Writer likes the comment on the article by Sue Marsh (yes, that Sue Marsh), stating: “These articles see those claiming out of work benefits as a static lump of 2.5 million (the implication is lazy) long term claimants who need a ‘nudge’. They are not, they are an ever changing group as people roll on and off of the benefit. Until legislators understand this, reform will fail.”
Quite right. Moreover, anybody in the UK who has paid tax in any form has funded a benefit system that includes state benefits for sickness and disability. There is no reason to trust the private sector to provide insurance against sickness in a reliable way – look at the Unum corporation’s criminal record in this regard. That company now provides advice to the UK government – and has done so for more than two decades, to both the Tories and Labour.
Any suggestion that sickness benefits may be handed over to private firms is a call to condemn people with long-term health conditions to neglect, poverty and death.
We already know that a White Paper is pencilled in for the first few months of 2016 and a new programme to provide employment support for this group will be commissioned later in the year. Little detail has been announced, but there are clear signals of where the Government’s attention is focussed:
Modernising the welfare state: With continued pressure on the public finances, more emphasis will continue to be placed on personal responsibility. Personally, I don’t see much more scope to increase conditionality or the role of sanctions. Instead, a bold Government could transform the welfare state to reinvigorate the contributory principle – the idea that families are supported by the contributions they make. An obvious place to make progress here would be to support individuals or firms to enter income protection schemes. Doing so would take pressure off the public finances and mean more people facing health problems could be supported to recover. Other countries show us that such approaches can be developed collectively and schemes like Pool Re and Flood Re (that provide government-supported insurance for terrorism and flooding respectively) show us that Government has a key role in removing the tail-end risks that usually present a barrier to wide scale entry of the insurance industry into this market.
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