Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne’s deficit reduction

If you are poor and sick and have paid your National Insurance contributions you will be leading the battle to reduce the deficit, writes Steve Griffiths.

By Steve Griffiths

Over a 15-year process of welfare ‘reform’, successive governments have tightened a flawed assessment of fitness for work which has resulted, at a conservative estimate, in half a million people who are sick or disabled and unable to work being wrongly disallowed benefit.

But here’s a wheeze. If you cut the period Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) can be paid as a contributory (National Insurance) benefit, at a stroke you can remove it from large numbers of people who thought they had paid into a contributory scheme, without all the bother of paying a multinational even more taxpayers’ money to ‘assess’ sick people off benefits.

From next year, the government intends to restrict national insurance-based ESA to one year. Among other things, this will mean 280,000 people who received the benefit because they are not fit for work will lose £4,500 a year without first being found fit for work

However, the coalition’s sense of impunity in the embrace of a supportive media makes it careless: an Impact Assessment of the proposal by the DWP is shot through with error and misrepresentation.

It claims:

“It was never intended that ESA for those in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) should be paid for an unlimited period to people who, by definition, are expected to move towards the workplace with help and support.”

This is simply wrong on a number of levels. Labour’s 2007 Welfare Reform Act opens with a clear statement that if your health is such that you are awarded ESA, it is “not reasonable to require (you) to work” – whatever group you are put in.

In other words, there is no basis for claiming people should cease to receive a benefit when they still meet the criteria for it – or to justify the claim by referring to a political intention or expectation which is in conflict with key wording in the primary legislation.

The assessment claims:

“…there may also be some positive health benefits as a result of customers going into work.”

Indeed, to the question of whether the cut will have an impact on ‘health and wellbeing’, its brief answer is ‘no’. This is blatantly untrue.

The Impact Assessment is built on denial, or ignorance, of compelling evidence that:

• Increasingly common working conditions entailing insecurity and stress have a massive impact on health;

• Low income is associated with sickness and early death, as are high and increasing levels of inequality – and 280,000 people will lose all benefit while still meeting the health-related criteria for it: around £4,600 a year each.

Another 220,000 will lose £1,100 a year;

• The new benefits regime is having a massive impact on the mental health of many vulnerable people;

• People getting incapacity benefits are not ‘hidden unemployed’ – for example, the level of emergency admissions to hospitals is much higher where incapacity benefits are high; and

• Above all, the idea there are a million people getting sickness benefits who should not be depends on an assumption that there is no geographical health inequality.

This is a redistribution of income from people who are unable to work due to illness or disability in order to meet the deficit. It will also be a redistribution of DWP spending to the NHS.

• For more detail and links see www.informedcompassion.com.

45 Responses to “Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne’s deficit reduction”

  1. jbw

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  2. Caroline McAllister

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  3. CHRIS WALTON

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  4. neil lambert

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  5. House Of Twits

    RT @leftfootfwd Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  6. Liza Harding

    RT @leftfootfwd Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  7. Rosie Scott

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  8. Where's the Benefit?

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  9. steve turner

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  10. people justice

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  11. Sian Balsom

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  12. Peter Szymaniak

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  13. Shaun5446

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  14. chris star

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne’s deficit reduction…
    //j.mp/keXLAE

  15. haynony mouse

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne’s deficit reduction…
    //j.mp/keXLAE

  16. Martin Fivehats

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne’s deficit reduction…
    //j.mp/keXLAE

  17. Michael

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne’s deficit reduction l Left Foot Forward – //goo.gl/6DCPJ

  18. Jen

    2 yrs ago my GP signed me off as I started with chronic pain in my right hand ( probably due to 40 yrs manual labour). I was refused Employment support allowance and the reason given was I had my ”working tax credit” of around £60 a weel my ”child tax credit” of around £54 per week, and my ”child benefit” of £20 per week – EMS – nil. After 9 weeks I was still suffering and was effectively starved back to work even though I had not recovered – I didn’t go back to my GP and returned myself to work still unwell.

    A letter from Steve Webb the pensions minister for the Coalition recieved this week informs me that women who are unable to work in their 60’s due to ill health during the increased retirement age for women to age 66 should ” apply for Employment support allowance or Job Seekers (even though we may be too worn out to return to the labour market ?) I’m still working, in pain, and waiting to see someone at the hospital – if I am signed off sick again, the whole process of being left without income long enough to reach any kind of recovery will begin again. If I qualified for sickness allowance I give my body the best chance it deserves – they fund free prescriptions for pain management instead – how is that morally or financially sound ? Just bonkers and immoral

  19. Andy Bean

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne’s deficit reduction l Left Foot Forward – //goo.gl/6DCPJ

  20. Monika Schwartz

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  21. Pamela Heywood

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction //dlvr.it/YC1Rl

  22. False Economy

    RT @leftfootfwd Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  23. mr. Sensible

    The whole The Coalition’s whole welfare reform agenda is based on the Daily Mail.

  24. Martin Johnston

    RT @leftfootfwd Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  25. Leon Wolfson

    I wish, mr. Sensible. If it was that kind of unthinking response, it’d be one thing. But I believe they know *exactly* what they’re doing.

  26. Daniel Pitt

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //t.co/7sFcVO2 #ConDemNation

  27. Jo Bates

    RT @leftfootfwd Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  28. Staffordshire UNISON

    RT @leftfootfwd Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  29. Robert

    First of all to Jen you could not get ESA because pain is not now a reason it has nothing to do with how much money you had, you failed the WCA. Pain has been removed, so has not being able to walk. These days if you can use a wheelchair then you cannot have benefit.

    The problem with all this has been Purnells and labour WCA, it’s a disgrace beyond a joke and it’s no good blaming the Tories because labour intended to restrict ESA to two years one year two years, the problem is labour and the Tories having secret meeting with Brown to discuss welfare reforms.

  30. Employment Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments « Carer Watch's Blog

    […] recent proposed changes to ESA is truly shocking.   It isn’t just the inaccuracies in the report identified by Steve Griffiths that are so appalling.    It is the tone and focus of the report that is the real wake up call. […]

  31. Maggie W

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction: //bit.ly/juEgEa writes Steve Griffiths

  32. Sue Marsh

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction //t.co/irNNGsk

  33. UKFreeNews

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction //t.co/irNNGsk

  34. Chris

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction //t.co/QawgbeA

  35. Sue Marsh

    Really great article Steve. So good to meet you at the weekend.
    It’s nice to meet the “good guys” for a change.

  36. Jen

    thanks for that – explains why 2 of my work mates cannot get any benefits, one has prostrate cancer, really ill, the other has severe emphaseama and can hardly breath – yes if you can breath, no benefit – like the ”final solution” – when I’m reduced to a quick gasp, and flicker of an eye lid I wonder what job I will be deemed fit for – winking isn’t a job (yet)

  37. steve turner

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction //t.co/irNNGsk

  38. ChrisBracken

    An excellent piece, Steve. My question is, who is going to put this right? There seem to be very few in our parliamentary democracy who give a damn. Even the Labour party has adopted punishing the sick for being sick as a policy.

  39. ACT NOW for Autism

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction | Left Foot Forward //fb.me/YHEzcBVw

  40. pip

    "@ACTNOWforautism: Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction | Left Foot Forward //fb.me/YHEzcBVw"

  41. kirst

    RT @leftfootfwd: Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction //t.co/t23fk1G

  42. Pat Raven

    Poor and sick paying the heaviest price for Osborne's deficit reduction | Left Foot Forward //fb.me/YHEzcBVw

  43. Elindal

    Great piece Steve!
    It amazes me that for the last 12 years the DSS placed me on their ‘degenerative conditions’ list for Incapacity ebnefit. This lista ccpets that certain conditions only get worse and never cured, so people will not be capapble of returhing to work.
    Now, suddenly after xxxxx amount of years since it’s inception people are suddnely capable to going to work.

    I am all for getting the fraudsters ( who make it so difficult for us genuine disabled people) caught. But it’s always the genuinely vulnerable who suffer.

    I think any system that drives people to suicide MUST be looked into urgently!

  44. Life is already hard for cancer patients. Don't make it harder | Left Foot Forward

    […] important than ever that people know just how much the poor and sick stand to lose. In June, we analysed the attempt to “save” money by limiting the ESA: Over a 15-year process of welfare […]

Leave a Reply