Bad news? Or just the same old story?
Apparently Jeremy Hunt is planning to “reform” (we’ve heard that word before!) disability benefits in order to push people back to work.
According to The Independent, the economics editor of the Financial Times, Chris Giles, said there would probably be a “carrot and stick” approach, although it seems to be more “stick” than “carrot”:
“The charitable way of putting it is that people are better off in work rather than out of work and have better lives and maybe they need a push. That’s not how a lot of people will see it but that’s how the government will see it.”
It looks like the expected inflation-matching benefit increase isn’t going to happen for people on disability or sickness payments!
Either that, or Hunt will make receipt of the benefit conditional on seeking work of some kind – which is a partial contradiction in terms because PIP is supposed to support disabled people in their lives, whether they are in work or not.
The trouble is, people aren’t better-off in work because the policy for the last 13 years and more – across the board – has been to push wages down in order to maximise profits.
That’s why we’ve got so many billionaires at the moment – most of whom didn’t do anything meaningful to get that cash.
Secondly: work won’t give disabled people better lives; it is far more likely to make their condition worse – if employers even bother to take them on.
You don’t get a better life in a low-waged job that creates physical or mental stress that is harmful to your health – possibly because it doesn’t pay enough to cover the bills.
And experience shows that most employers won’t even hire a person with a disability – so that person is left struggling on a benefit that is even less likely to cover the bills, because it has been designed to be that way.
So trying to force disabled people into work isn’t even likely to succeed.
Finally, let’s be perfectly clear about this: more people are on disability benefits now because of the Tories’ cack-handed handling of the Covid crisis.
It’s also because they’ve created huge stresses with low-paid work; people are having nervous breakdowns and physical health problems because employers and the government have made it impossible to make ends meet.
The Independent article makes clear the correlation between the pandemic and benefit take-up:
A new report revealed that a huge wave of early retirement following the Covid pandemic was the biggest cause of labour shortages across the UK. [It said] that the workforce outlook for the UK was “bleak”, finding that economic inactivity has increased by 565,000 people since the start of the pandemic.
There was also a stark increase in long-term sickness since the start of the pandemic, with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) finding that 217,000 people not in work in the year to July reported long-Covid.
However, the report highlighted that most of the rise in sickness-related inactivity was among people already taking leave and those leaving jobs were more likely to be ending their careers early.
Giving up, in other words.
So, in typical Tory fashion, these idiots have created a problem for them to solve… with cruelty.
As Kate Bell, assistant general secretary of the TUC put it:
“The government usually reaches for benefit conditionality when they don’t have anything to say.”
“I think it might happen because they see it as easy and cheap.”
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