The Tories are lying when they say disabled people would get better if they had jobs

Debbie Abrahams speaking to the Labour conference. She has pledged to end the hated Work Capability Assessments of sick and disabled people [Image: David Gadd/Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar].

It is staggeringly sad that I have to assert the simple truth in the headline above.

This Writer agrees with every word written by Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams in her article (extract below). She concludes with a point that needs more prominence, given the attitude of the Tory Penny Mordaunt:

Labour believe, like the NHS, our social security system should be there for all of us in our time of need, based on principles of inclusion, support and security for all, assuring us of our dignity.

That is a far cry from the Tories’ assertion that benefits should only be paid to those falling into an arbitrary category of being in “greatest need” – which may be defined according to the savings the Tories wish to make at any particular time.

Ms Abrahams, responding to the Conservative Government’s Green Paper, euphemistically-titled Improving Lives, continues:

The Green Paper, the consultation for which closed on 17th February just 6 weeks before the ESA WRAG cuts come into place, makes the bold claim that ‘…employment can…promote recovery.’

The issue I have with this statement, and the tone of the Green Paper as a whole, is that this implies that disabled people and people with chronic conditions would recover if only they tried a bit harder, or their doctors weren’t such soft touches. It doesn’t mention ‘shirkers’ directly but comments on how some people with the same condition languish in the ESA Support Group whilst others “flourish at work”, making it clear that’s what they’re thinking, ignoring their own rhetoric about “not treating everyone in a one-size-fits-all way”.

As a former Public Health consultant who researched into the health effects of work and worklessness, I agree that some work is good for health, but I don’t agree with the Government’s flawed thinking underpinning this: that it’s OK for people to return to work when they are still not fit, because it may help. This is not just unsound, it’s dangerous.

The scapegoating of disabled people, which includes people with physical or mental impairments and long-term health conditions as defined under the 2010 Equality Act, has been a hallmark of this Government and the previous Coalition. But even the conclusion of the United Nations inquiry that the UK Government has been responsible for ‘grave…systematic violations’ of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities since 2010, has been met with Government stonewalling.

It is already well established that disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people as a result of the extra costs associated with their disability. Currently 4.2 million disabled people live in poverty and I have been informed from unpublished analysis by an Economic and Social Research Council research project that this is getting worse.

The Government has refused to stop the cuts to ESA WRAG and Universal Credit’s Limited Capacity to Work which come in this April, which will undoubtedly increase the numbers of disabled people living in poverty, threatening their health and well-being. Various discretionary funds may be available, for example the Flexible Support Fund, but there is no guarantee of support and they are quite specific in what they can be used for.

The timing of these cuts when there has been a negligible reduction in the disability employment gap is quite shocking. The Green Paper rings alarm bells that people in the ESA Support Group are the next to be targeted. Linked to this, the new Work Capability Assessment criteria which the Government announced last September (after I committed to scrap the Work Capability Assessment) will be published later this year. These will give a clear indication what the Government’s real agenda is.

Source: ‘Dangerous’ new changes planned to force sick people into work – or into poverty | openDemocracy

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10 thoughts on “The Tories are lying when they say disabled people would get better if they had jobs

  1. inkdropk

    Hi Mike, Brian (AKA Inkdrop) calling. Just thought i’d post my view on being on ESA. I’ve been on WRAG, and Support Group – and its my considered opinion Mrs May and her cabinet have been doing a number on BOTH the claimants and the firms / charities engaged in finding meaningful work that matches the skills and is accessible for if the numbers on WRAG are too high – claimants are moved to support and vice versa until assessors get involved

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      New Labour did.
      New Labour is gone.
      Labour will scrap the WCA.

      I’m glad to be able to help you with that.

  2. Barry Davies

    Well as with every lie it works better if there is a fragment of truth, work has been shown to help a very small minority recover, but not any where near a large majority, indeed more people will find their conditions are exacerbated than those who “recover”.

  3. Stu

    It comes as no surprise that whilst Government announcements about “improving disabled lives” are being discussed, the BBC’s news home page has been prominently and permenantly featuring Disability Works.
    Although an admirable gesture, it reeks of previously failed DWP “success story” leaflets….

  4. Mam Bach

    Can I please add that for those of us who do what work we can (I’m self employed for the flexibility to work when I can and not when I can’t) the answer is not just “work more then”

    That would just make me more ill,hence less able to work.

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