The Tory blueprint: fund a cruel system, not the disabled people it punishes | Frances Ryan

‘The DWP launched the assessments by bragging that half a million people would lose their benefits, and last year it slashed employment and support allowance saying it would be an “incentive” get a job.’[Image: Alamy].

Labour’s verdict has been as damning as Ms Ryan’s.

But it also offers a little hope for those of us who are caught in the Tory benefit trap.

Debbie Abrahams MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, commenting on the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s report into the Personal Independent Payment (PIP) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA) assessment processes said:

“This report provides yet more damning evidence that these assessment processes are not fit for purpose and that trust in the system has been completely undermined under this Government. Instead of supporting people, the process is often dehumanising, inaccurate and worsens existing health conditions.

“The widespread distrust of the assessment process by sick and disabled people is no surprise, with a record 68 per cent of decisions taken to tribunal being overturned by judges. Under private contractors the assessment process is getting worse, not better, yet the Government refuses to act.

“Labour will scrap the current PIP and ESA assessments, bringing an end to the Conservatives’ failed privatised assessment system and replacing it with personalised, holistic support which provides each individual with a tailored plan, building on their strengths and addressing barriers, whether health, care, finance, skills, transport, or housing related.”

On Wednesday, the work and pensions select committee released its much-anticipated report into Britain’s disability benefit system and it pulled no punches. The picture it paints is one of incompetence and outright cruelty: assessments riddled with errors and omissions or even fabrications; poor use of medical evidence that often leads to people’s benefits being incorrectly removed; and a “lack of determination” from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to address its failings. As the MPs damningly put it, the disability benefit system has reached the point at which “a pervasive lack of trust is undermining the entire operation”.

From their rollout by the coalition to Theresa May’s cabinet today, the very premise of the Conservative’s so-called reforms to disability benefits has been to shrink the “welfare” budget, part of a wider bid to pull back the state. The DWP launched the tests for PIP in 2012 by bragging that half a million disabled people would lose their benefits by the end of it, and last year it slashed employment and support allowance (ESA) – the benefit for people so severely ill that they can’t work – on the premise it would be an “incentive” for them to get a job.

That’s the most grotesque part of this. When ministers design a social security system based on how much money they can cut, unqualified assessors and bloated appeal bills aren’t a sign of a policy gone wrong – it’s a sign that it’s going exactly as planned.

Source: The Tory blueprint: fund a cruel system, not the disabled people it punishes | Frances Ryan | Opinion | The Guardian

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5 thoughts on “The Tory blueprint: fund a cruel system, not the disabled people it punishes | Frances Ryan

  1. jeffrey davies

    yet on it goes aktion t4 culling the stock through benefits denial we had many mps talking about whot been done since 2010 to our benefits system yet one uc is not there to help those working but to hound them yet who are the real benefit scroungers has they pay for nowt you got it the mps who don’t pay out even for their bog rolls things have changed so radically that those claiming benefits are now looked down on. jeff3

  2. NMac

    Not just cruelty, but deliberate thought-out cruelty, with the aim of killing people off. A nasty and very sneaky genocide.

  3. Terrified

    “personalised, holistic support which provides each individual with a tailored plan, building on their strengths and addressing barriers, whether health, care, finance, skills, transport, or housing related.”.

    The example of Universal Credit should tell all of us all we need to know about ‘holistic support’ systems.

    A “tailored plan” with sinister references to “strengths”, “barriers” and “skills” is just another judgemental and oppressive agenda to force people back to work when their doctors have stated they are not fit for work. More cliched slogans implying a steroptype of something like a helpless baby requiring “grownups” (i.e. able bodied) to pat their precious little heads and decide what is best for them – without regard to the fact that our human rights to privacy of home life and personal choice have not yet been abolished.

    Disabled people are not little children to be monitored, micromanaged and controlled in every aspect of our lives. with an intrusive procession of do-gooders breathing down our necks. Most of us are just as competent at running our own lives as anybody else.

    Will we be abandoned to starve if we refuse to open our doors to these busybodies, or fail to “engage” with a programme of CBT and graded exercise (proven to kill) for our chronic fatigue, or their kindly-meant advice to take pharmaceuticals with dangerous side-effects rather than, say, medical cannabis oil?

    LACK OF MONEY is the cause of most “barriers” facing the disabled. Other barriers include access to lawyers (first and foremost, and the things which then follow, such as) food, housing, fuel, motability cars, mobility scooters, public transport and buildings. And being patronised and dehumanised by those in power.

    Then there was the removal of the old quota systems requiring large organisations such as the DWP to offer jobs to those with a disability. Before the Tories, there was the possibility of doing a few hours a week therapeutic work or study (which was voluntary and did not impinge on benefits), as well as no-commitment return-to-work trials for those unsure of their fitness. The squeezing of the NHS is of course another barrier, as is university fees.

    The DLA and other support systems scrapped in 2006 by LABOUR, all worked fine. Nobody starved, was evicted, or died, and we lived in privacy and dignity and had control over our own lives – just like the able bodied.

    Pre-2006, the UK had achieved an effective system for the disabled tailored in response to decades of campaigning for our equality, autonomy, rights and dignity. This should have been a matter of national pride, like our NHS and universities. It was never broke and never needed to be stolen from us.

    Any policy for the disabled on the part of Labour, should be about reinstating this achievement. Giving us our autonomy back, rather than hatching more cunning plans to hijack it.

    What assurance is there that these “support” measures will all be OPTIONAL, with NO SANCTIONS, and NO QUESTIONS ASKED, for those who prefer to reject the entire intrusive package, using their benefit entitlements to run their own lives according to their own wishes?

    What if I don’t want my doctors sharing my medical records with my local social services (and don’t want the SS involved in my life at all – for instance, in case they kindly decide to take my children away) or housing association?

    F*ck these tailored plans. There is nothing in this which does not reek of the same old abuse and harrassment we have suffered for years, and disabled people should be extremely wary of anything where their participation is not entirely VOUNTARY and UNCONDITIONAL in regard to their benefit entitlements.

  4. Pat Sheehan

    This has been going on for years now! And we are one of the wealthiest countries on the planet. We claim to be one of the most civilized: world leaders in fact. What? In the name of SANITY, does it take to halt this fascist conspiracy and turn it all around????

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