Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cuts To Disability Benefits - 'The Easiest Bit Of Welfare Reform To Sell'

"The coalition’s assault on what the Conservatives refer to as “broken Britain” is underway. The government has announced for the first time how many of the UK’s 2.6m recipients of disability benefits it estimates will be reclassified as fit-to-work in this parliament. The answer: a cool 500,000 or 23 per cent of the total.

Although this will generate political heat among those affected, it is the easiest bit of welfare reform to sell. Britain’s out-of-work disability benefits have been abused. The last government belatedly recognised this and started to introduce a more rigorous system. But many of the 2.2m people who still claim the old benefit elected to do so because it is more generous than the dole."


This article in yesterday's Financial Times* makes very clear the ethos behind the Coalition government's slash and burn attacks on sickness related benefits, that cuts to disability benefits are perceived as the "easiest bit of welfare reform to sell" . The FT don't distinguish between the different types of sickness related benefits so I assume the figure of 2.2million people claiming what they describe as 'the old benefit' refers to Incapacity Benefit, the predecessor to Employment and Support Allowance brought in by New Labour. It seems equally safe to assume that the 2.6million they refer it is actually the 2.9 million Disability Living Allowance recipients, some 1.25 million of which are adults who claim both DLA and IB. 

The official Department of Work and Pensions fraud rate for Disability Living Allowance makes it very clear that only 0.5% of the total number of claims are fraudulent. That's approximately 14,500 fraudulent claims out of an overall 2.9million.  So, less than 15,000 Disability Living Allowance awards are fraudulent and the coalition are determined to reduce the numbers claiming DLA by half a million. Playing fast and loose with the DWP's own statistics and assuming they're wildly underestimating the problem of fraudulent claims, which seems particularly unlikely, if an overall fraud rate of, say 5%, 10 times that of the official rate were assumed, that would still only be one hundred and forty five thousand fraudulent claims out of a total 2.9 million. Still some three hundred and fity five thousand short of the half a million proposed reduction.

The agenda is clear. To vastly restrict eligibility to DLA, already the most rigorously assessed and difficult to claim benefit of all. 

So much for David Cameron's claim that "Those that can should, and those who can't we will always help. I want to make sure that my government always looks after the elderly, the frail, the poorest in our country." David Cameron, 11th May 2010




Originally posted 17/09/2010

*10 articles available to view per month if  free registration completed

11 comments:

JuliaM said...

"So much for David Cameron's claim that "Those that can should, and those who can't we will always help..."

Note, he didn't define 'help', did he?

But then, 'help' might not necessarily mean 'support in an uncorking state for the rest of their natural lives'. And maybe shouldn't mean that, for their benefit as well as that of the taxpayer.

JuliaM said...

'Uncorking'..? Good grief! /facepalm

I meant 'unworking'. Stupid iPhone...

Anonymous said...

The Torys have succeeded in expanding the fear of and hatred against disabled people. They are doing to us what they want. Divide and Conquer. Rich uncaring politics rules. The damaged, broken, sick, weak among us are being thrown to the wolves.

JuliaM said...

"The Torys have succeeded in expanding the fear of and hatred against disabled people."

Well, firstly, the coalition are merely continuing a process of welfare reform started by the last government...

"They are doing to us what they want. Divide and Conquer. Rich uncaring politics rules. The damaged, broken, sick, weak among us are being thrown to the wolves."

And this sort of hyperbole, hogwash and scaremongering is what does your cause no good whatsoever, and allows those who would otherwise sympathise to wonder why they are bothering to defend people who seem to act (and above all, think) like children.

No, your ideological and political opponent is not evil. They just view the world differently. No-one wants to see genuinely-disabled people forced to work if they are unable to, but the welfare system can no longer support the amount of people claiming on it. Not without something else having to give...

Anonymous said...

Any-one can become disabled. Those who critisise disabled people and acuse them of being childish and scaremongers should remember this.
By the way I'm not disabled and I work but I have disabled family members and friends and life is not easy for them. It's not easy for family members who are looking after them either.
We are supposed to be living in a civilised society where we care for those who are less able. It appears that this is not so. Sadly the attitude seems to be as long as I'm ok sod every-one else.
And where are the disabled and sick going to work. Are we going to see a return of the workhouse. I hope not. And if the welfare system is no longer able to support people why have I and every other worker in this country been paying NI contributions.
If the government will not help us when we have contributed all our working lives then why should we contribute any-thing. Those who critisise and don't care just remember things can change overnight. We are supposed to be all in this together. Some more than others it appears.

misspiggy said...

JuliaM, you've probably seen the accounts on this site of what it would take to allow many people with long term conditions to work. Companies who will pay and train someone to work maybe an hour a day; a fully accessible public transport service; employers who don't mind if someone doesn't turn up (again) because their condition has flared up or they've injured themselves more seriously than usual.. it just doesn't seem likely at the moment that the jobs that exist will go to people who need so many adaptations.

So what's to be done? The only humane thing is for the taxpayer to support people who have no realistic prospect of working, and to pay the extra costs that their illness or disability brings; otherwise what will happen to them?

If we can afford an Olympics and ridiculous petrol tax giveaways, we can afford to look after people who need it. And before anyone says, 'but there are so few people who are really in this situation', please read the stories on the Broken of Britain and similar sites for more information.

JuliaM said...

"And if the welfare system is no longer able to support people why have I and every other worker in this country been paying NI subscriptions."

Because it's a Ponzi scheme, and what's happening to it now is what's bound to happen to all such schemes...

JuliaM said...

"JuliaM, you've probably seen the accounts on this site of what it would take to allow many people with long term conditions to work."

Indeed, so the resestablishment of something like Remploy or a similar organisation would be a useful investment by the coalition, and something worth campaigning for.

It'd be far better received by the working population than the constant cry of 'You got! Gimmie!'...

Oya's Daughter said...

The program was called Access to Work, JuliaM...and it's being cut. Actually it's one of the first things being cut and pretty much makes damn certain the disabled who do want to work (or who own businesses, like myself) are going to lose that ability.

I'm not sure how you equate TBofB campaign as a cry to dip into the pockets of other people - all I want is to be able to live in dignity and left in peace to do so. And that also would be far better received than the constant cry of "Gettajob, scum!" I have one. I'm struggling to keep doing it, but if I can't, what happens?

Anonymous said...

get a job scum who thought that 1 up and what if the person on disability is of school age i have an unwell son he was in hospital for nearly a year he has to keep going back every 3 months for tests i lost my job because i had to much time of now im his full time carer im no scum and when he gets old enough for work i dont think much of his chances of any 1 taking him on my life has stoped in a way but thats part of life what do u do in a situation that u never wanted to be in so if im scum for not working and being a carer for my boy then u are something else to harsh to say on here

Anonymous said...

"It'd be far better received by the working population than the constant cry of 'You got! Gimmie!'..."

And the government have us all were they want us........ Fighting for the scraps from their 'Eton Boys club' table.

Surely rather than attacking our countries most vulnerable, we should instead demand better working conditions and tax breaks for our workers. Rather than the tax breaks given to the million/billionaires and the Camerons of this world, who dodge paying taxes into our country, gamble us all into debt and then get rewarded for their behaviour.