Sick and disabled people are dying while trying to claim benefits; Tory press calls them ‘scroungers’ again

A cartoonist’s view of government sickness and disability assessments; ministers set the bar at an impossibly high level.

The Conservatives seem to have launched another attack on sickness and disability benefit claimants – labelling them as “scroungers” again, even though many are dying before they even receive state payments – due to the Kafka-esque assessment process.

Tory lickspittle Andrew Pierce has published a poison pen piece in the Daily Hate Mailaimed at whipping up division between claimants and the rest of the population.

It’s a classic Tory “divide and rule” tactic, that was deployed to devastating effect during the years of the Coalition government. It comes out whenever the government needs to distract people away from its own shortcomings.

So, for example, today you could be asking why the Conservatives ignored warnings that schools built with RAAC concrete were falling down – for 13 years – and only started doing something about it after collapses came to public attention. The Tory answer to that is: “Look at those skiving benefit scroungers!”

The reality isn’t remotely similar to Tory Boy Pierce’s claim.

The reality is that people claiming sickness and disability benefits often die before they receive a penny, because the system already works very hard to deprive them of it – as Labour MP Debbie Abrahams pointed out in a Westminster Hall debate earlier this week:

If a coroner writes a ‘Prevention of Future Death’ report, it means they believe a death could have been prevented but the circumstances in which the deceased had been placed – in this case, a benefit claim process that is so complicated and obstructive that it not only discourages claimants but depresses them and further harms their physical health – actually contributed to or caused their death.

Obviously, if we have a claim process that is actually harming or killing claimants, it should be impossible to suggest that they are lazy scroungers; a lazy scrounger would not put him- or herself through the trial of such a procedure because it would not be worth the hassle.

And the underlying reality is that prime minister Rishi Sunak and Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride want to make the Work Capability Assessment harsher, in order to force a million sick and disabled people back onto the jobs market.

They’re not doing this because those people are actually fit for work and shouldn’t be on benefits.

They’re doing it because more people looking for work means employers can pay less; if a job applicant wants more than employers are willing to pay – like an actual living wage – they can refuse the application on the grounds that they can always find someone else who will take the lower payment.

But you won’t see that fact in one of Tory Boy’s hate screeds.

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