“Demonising the government”: Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis)

Alex Hern presents the clash between disability campaigner Sue Marsh and employment minister Chris Grayling from last night’s Newsnight.

 

Disability campaigner Sue Marsh appeared on Newsnight last night to debate the education minister Chris Grayling – and, at times, the presenter Emily Maitlis as well.

Explaining campaigners problems with an aspect of the bill which introduces means-testing for children disabled from birth, Marsh said:

“What that amendment was actually about, we felt, was that children who were born profoundly disabled, who might not be able to work when they get older, should have an entitlement when they reach adulthood to an independent income. They shouldn’t have to rely on parents or family to look after them.

“If you’re born that profoundly disabled, you should have an income in your own right.”

Maitlis’s response to Marsh was to accuse her of ‘demonising’ the government:

“And it’s very easy, isn’t it, to demonise the government over such an emotive issue as this, when the government has clearly stated that for cases of long term chronic illness, the support group will not change its benefit structure.

“This is only about people who presumably you would want to see getting back to work.”

Grayling, meanwhile, was free to spin about the success of the government’s “revolutionary new work program” without addressing the fact that this is the same work program that forces people to work for just £1.78 an hour.

Watch the debate in full:

And read a transcript of the full exchange:

Emily Maitlis: “[Liam Byrne] said you were “crossing the line of decency”. Is it more important for you to save money even if you face that kind of accusation?”

Chris Grayling: “I think he’s just plain wrong, and I think that the Labour party last week, Liam Byrne personally was talking about the need to take tough decisions on welfare, and this week he’s doing just the opposite. And lets be clear about what we’re not doing. We are not taking away benefits from people who have no other income.

“We are not taking away benefits from people who are not going to be able to work again. We are making changes for people who’ve got another income, or who’ve got thousands of pounds of savings in the bank.

“So that’s the principle of what we’re doing.”

Maitlis: “Sure. And that was presumably understood pretty well by those in the Lords. Lord Patel, though, was saying he is sympathetic to cutting the deficit, but highly sympathetic to something that will make the lives of weak and vulnerable people even more miserable. I mean, this is why it’s being shouted down now.”

Grayling: “Well, if you take the example of one of the amendments last night, on young people, what we’ve got is a situation right now where if young person reaches adult life, and they have other financial means, they could receive for example a substantial inheritance, they’re still able to unconditionally receive benefit support for an ongoing period.

“Now, if they’re never going to be able to work, the situation won’t change for them.

“But if they are in the position where with the right help, and through our work program we’ve put in place specialist support to help people who’ve got the potential to return to work to do so, then I don’t think it’s right that somebody who’s got other financial means should depend on taxpayers, who are on relatively low incomes themselves very often, to pay the money to help people who’ve already got money themselves.”

Maitlis: “And Sue Marsh, what’s so wrong with that?”

Sue Marsh: “What that amendment was actually about, we felt, was that children who were born profoundly disabled, who might not be able to work when they get older, should have an entitlement when they reach adulthood to an independent income. They shouldn’t have to rely on parents or family to look after them. If you’re born that profoundly disabled, you should have an income in your own right.”

Grayling: “But for those children in a position where they’ll never work, they’ll be in, on employment support allowance in what’s called the support group, which is something we’ve increased in size, we’re providing more long term unconditional support than the previous government.”

Marsh: “This is about national insurance credits…”

Grayling: “Then those people won’t be in a different situation. Their situation won’t have changed.”

Maitlis: “And it’s very easy, isn’t it, to demonise the government over such an emotive issue as this, when the government has clearly stated that for cases of long term chronic illness, the support group will not change its benefit structure. This is only about people who presumably you would want to see getting back to work.”

Marsh: “First of all we don’t think enough people are going in to the support group, that’s one of the big flaws with the employment and support allowance. We don’t feel that enough people with long term conditions are getting that unconditional support.”

Maitlis: “So that’s not about an actual, an amendment to a reform…”

Marsh: “No, the amendments to the reforms yesterday, I mean we were sitting there watching the debate, and one of the debates was about how terminally ill you have to be to qualify for benefits. Being terminally ill for six months, that was OK, you would get some support, unconditional support.

“If you were terminally ill for three years, or four years, you weren’t going to get that support. I find it shocking that I’m living in a country where I sit there and hear ministers or lords arguing over how terminally ill you have to be to get benefits.”

Maitlis: “If we didn’t have a deficit problem, would you still want to bring about this kind of reform anyway?”

Grayling: “We’d certainly still want to change the welfare state, and make it much more relevant to our core objective, to help people back into work, and disabled people back into work, and it’s a key goal.

“The point about the support group, the long term group, who do receive unconditional support from the state, we’ve grown that in the past year, it’s bigger than it was when we took office, we’ve introduced conditions that are consciously intended to make sure we provide better support for people who’ve got long term mental health problems.

“But yes of course we’re having to take tough decisions because of the deficit, we’ve got to do that across a whole range of different areas, and yes there are things we are having to do which we’d rather not have to do. We’re certainly trying to get the balance right.”

Maitlis: “And it would be very easy, wouldn’t it, to say once somebody has been classified as disabled or a chronic sufferer they need never be assessed again. That might not be helping either the state or the individual.”

Marsh: “That wasn’t what the debate was about, though, yesterday. We weren’t talking about assessments. One of the other votes that failed was for a one year time-limit on employment support allowance.

“Not for the people who go into the unconditional group, but for the people who are judged to be unwell, unfit to work, but maybe can get back to work with the right support. Now, when ESA was originally designed, they thought that it would take between two and five years for those people, with the right support, and that’s the key thing, to get back into work.

“Now, introducing a one-year time limit means someone like me who’s been ill for 27 years, I’m now going to be, after one year if I don’t go into that support group, entirely dependent on my husband, who doesn’t earn very much, to survive.”

Maitlis: “But you heard that there are increasing numbers of people on disability benefit now, they don’t want to live on it, they want to come off it presumably, and be back at work.”

Marsh: “And that’s fantastic, that’s absolutely fantastic and there’s no problem with that at all.”

Maitlis: “But do you see the problem with that if there is no kind on means assessment at all?”

Marsh: “No one’s calling for no assessment at all, I don’t think, I don’t think anyones calling for no assessment. I think we need a fair assessment, I think we need an assessment that looks at people’s conditions individually, I don’t think we can have a tick-box system of fifteen questions where you sit in front of somebody and they just go through the questions and say you have to fit this rigid system.”

Maitlis: “Chris Grayling, we’ve seen a lot of U-turns already from your government. Successive governments have tried and failed on welfare reform, you’ve already been defeated in the lords, you’ve got legal challenges with the unemployment benefit cuts, are you starting to realise why nobody ever manages to do this?”

Grayling: “Well, we are going to do this. This is part of a transformation of our welfare state that is really necessary.

“In many of our communities now we’ve already got long-term endemic worklessness that has gone from generation to generation, we have an appallingly low level of people with disabilities in work, what we’ve done with our revolutionary new work program, on a payment by results basis, we’ve got organisations that are delivering personalised support from long term benefit dependency, they have the freedom to do what works and we only pay them when they’re successful.

Maitlis: “And you sound very certain that you would pull this off. We’ve already heard David Cameron hint that child benefit might be relooked at.

“His words were:

‘We’d always said we’d look at steepness of the curve, look at the way its implemented.’

“This is something that you introduced at the Tory conference before last. The Telegraph is leading on this rethink of child benefit cuts – that’s going to change now, isn’t it?”

Grayling: “I mean first of all in terms of our welfare reforms there’s no u-turns planned, I’m in the position where child benefit’s done by the treasury as part of the budget preparations, so I don’t know what the treasury are doing because I’m in a different department.”

Maitlis: “Would you be surprised if there was a rethink on child benefits?”

Grayling: “I’d be surprised if we saw a major U-turn on child benefit…”

Maitlis: “But you wouldn’t call it a major U-turn. Would you be surprised if there was a change to that policy now?”

Grayling: “We will always, with every policy, try to implement it in as sensible a way as possible. But I’ve heard nothing to suggest that we’re about to change direction massively on child benefit. But no, the prime minister said he would be careful and thoughtful about how we do it, and try and make changes as efficiently and effectively and fairly as possible.”

See also:

Welfare reform bill in tatters after Lords defeats – Shamik Das, January 12th 2012

Children’s commissioner slams welfare bill – Alex Hern, January 11th 2012

Everyone concerned about welfare reform needs to step up to the mark – Declan Gaffney, January 10th 2012

Disability minister ignorant on how legal aid cuts affecting disabled people – Alex Hern, January 10th 2012

Yet another nasty in the welfare bill: Means testing support for the disabled-since-youth – Declan Gaffney, September 22nd 2011

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88 Responses to ““Demonising the government”: Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis)”

  1. Mehdi Hasan

    "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): http://t.co/yB7DZJkU by @alexhern

  2. Political Planet

    “Demonising the government”: Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): Alex Hern presents the clash betwee… http://t.co/hm5qvkdg

  3. Glenys Thornton

    "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): http://t.co/yB7DZJkU by @alexhern

  4. Dannyboy

    Sue Marsh was very good v Chris Grayling last night http://t.co/8Uu2pTit

  5. Joyce

    "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): http://t.co/yB7DZJkU by @alexhern

  6. Kim Blake

    "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): http://t.co/yB7DZJkU by @alexhern

  7. David Irvine

    "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): http://t.co/yB7DZJkU by @alexhern

  8. shabbir gheewalla

    http://t.co/P7zdIp2e "RT @leftfootfwd: "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): http://t.co/m8DLmTTZ

  9. Ebony Dawn Marsh

    "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): http://t.co/yB7DZJkU by @alexhern

  10. Redisbleu

    What is this, I don’t even….demonising the GOVERNMENT? Seriously? You’re cutting funding to disabled children but you’re just “misunderstood”?

  11. Mark Martin

    RT @leftfootfwd "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): http://t.co/16UvoYvH by @alexhern

  12. guest

    Dictatorship…here we come!!!…Grayling=odious cretin!!

  13. Shamik Das

    "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): http://t.co/yB7DZJkU by @alexhern

  14. Fran

    "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): http://t.co/yB7DZJkU by @alexhern

  15. Patron Press - #P2

    #UK : “Demonising the government ”: Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) http://t.co/L09fl2C0

  16. roslinda

    #UK : “Demonising the government ”: Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) http://t.co/L09fl2C0

  17. Mistynow

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) http://t.co/cG3A3w1E

  18. start small

    "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): http://t.co/yB7DZJkU by @alexhern

  19. Kirst

    RT @leftfootfwd "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): http://t.co/16UvoYvH by @alexhern

  20. Nancyrowina

    What is this “support system” they are talking about for people who are long term disabled and want to get back into work? All the people I know who have been forced off ESA and onto jobseekers aren’t getting any support. I got sent to a place where they claimed to be sensitive to my illness and and wanting to help me back into work, but it was really no different to old New Deal Job club places that I got sent to years ago when I was still able to work but between jobs. What we actually need is the opportunity to meet employers and convince them we could do their job with some support. As nowadays job applications are all done with forms, as soon as they see I have a 10 year gap in my work history due to illness I go on the no pile. And this isn’t really prejudice as where I live employers are getting literally thousands of applications for every job they advertise, and they have to eliminate people somehow so how can you blame them? I heard that 1000 people applied for one crappy shelf stacker job in Tesco recently down here.
    I would be okay if I could find a way to work from home that actually earned me enough money to support myself. The government needs to encourage employers to find more ways to enable people to do this, with the Internet it should be relatively easy for someone who would work in an office to do the work from home and send it in by email. This is the sort of thing the government should be looking into, not how long someone who’s dying should be be allowed to claim benefits.

  21. BendyGirl

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) http://t.co/RXlaGQoa #spartacusreport

  22. Mabel Horrocks

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) http://t.co/RXlaGQoa #spartacusreport

  23. love & hisses

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) http://t.co/RXlaGQoa #spartacusreport

  24. Pulp Ark

    “Demonising the government”: Sue Marsh v Chris… http://t.co/g7imHnT5 #Good_Society #Chris_Grayling #disability_rights #muslim #tcot #sioa

  25. Robert McRuer

    "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): http://t.co/yB7DZJkU by @alexhern

  26. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – “Demonising the government”: Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) http://t.co/W6tdkngO

  27. Kaye L Lewis

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) http://t.co/RXlaGQoa #spartacusreport

  28. B Rawsthorn

    "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): http://t.co/yB7DZJkU by @alexhern

  29. Barbara Hulme

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) http://t.co/RXlaGQoa #spartacusreport

  30. Mark Wallace

    Grayling keeps quoting a “substantial inheritance” that disabled youngsters might receive.
    Nice if you’re a rich Tory.
    He seriously needs a reality check

  31. We need to save manufacturing, but manufacturing won’t save us | Left Foot Forward

    […] the great and the good sat around on a particularly weak edition of Newsnight last night – elsewhere in the programme a disabled activist with severe Crohn’s disease who has just had her […]

  32. Mark Rowe

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) http://t.co/RXlaGQoa #spartacusreport

  33. prakriti gosh

    “Demonising the government”: Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): We're certainly trying to get the b… http://t.co/wg6WStZp

  34. Anonymous

    Grayling, meanwhile, was free to spin about the success of the government’s “revolutionary new work program” without addressing the fact that this is the same work program that forces people to work for just £1.78 an hour.

    ===========

    Easy to show that’s a lie or an offence is being commited.

    Minimum wage is higher.

    Who is paying 1.78 an hour so they can be report to the authorities?

  35. MysticMoon

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) http://t.co/RXlaGQoa #spartacusreport

  36. Anonymous

    Where’s the money going to come from?

    70 bn lost on the banks by Gordon Brown (Should have let them go bust to teach them a lesson)

    7,000 bn in debt (gilts, state pension, state second pension, PFI, civil service pensions, …)

    That debt doesn’t include paying any welfare.

    Mind you, they could really screw people over. Let inflation rip by printing lots of money or QE as it is called, and then freeze wages, benefits, the lot.

    Right or wrong, there is no money, there is debt. You either pay the debt, or default on the debt, or cut spending.

    Either way, lots of people get hurt. That’s the legacy.

    Which option do you want to take, and quantify who gets hit for what.

  37. Labour’s failings on disability – and the way forward | Left Foot Forward

    […] also: • “Demonising the government”: Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) –  Alex Hern, January 13th […]

  38. Anonymous

    The 1.78 refers to people being made to work somewhere so you don;t lose your benefits.
    So you can do 10s of hours of work for your small benefit – the equivalent of £1.78 an hour in some quarters.

    Not illegal, just fairly odd. Places like Poundland and Asda get workers for virtually nothing. People like Grayling can prattle on that working for Poundland will somehow equip and encourage people to work.

    Obviously it’s just a punitive measure for people who have the temerity to be unemployed, but hey ho.

  39. Bill Kruse

    Bit of a disconnect there between Maitlis and Marsh; see where Maitless asks about a means test and Marsh replies about the Atos testing. It doesn’t appear anyone noticed at the time.

  40. Dawn Mckenna

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) http://t.co/RXlaGQoa #spartacusreport

  41. Redisbleu

    And yet we’ve got money for the Olympics? For a new train line system? A minister gets £400 for food? I don’t even get that in total for my DLA. I have a real hard time believing that money just appeared, surely it came from somewhere, but we can’t spare money for people who are going to DIE soon? For children? Come off it. I have a bit more humanity, if it’s a choice between a starving child in my own country (my own town, in many cases) and whether I have free parking as a Lord, I rather think I’ll feed the child, and this is something Baroness Meacher even said herself last year – that she’d be happy as a Lord to lose some of the extra perks she has, as apparently are others.

    Just using banker bonuses for just THIS year, would wipe out the entire debt. It’s not hard. It’s just easier to kick those who are already down.

  42. The Government does understand its own disability reforms | Left Foot Forward

    […] said: “Well, if you take the example of one of the amendments last night, on young people, what […]

  43. Nick Leaton

    Workfare – forced unpaid labour – is being rolled-out across the country.

    =============

    It was Gordon’s policy for people to be forced to work for the state.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7995652.stm

    This bit on your link was indicative.


    If you want to do work experience, find something that is really voluntary.

    And if you don’t why not stop benefits?

    There is set of major issues.

    1. Lots of people becoming entrenched on benefits. Total it up over a life time and its millions.

    [There are people on benefits of 170K a year without being disabled. That’s being cut, and quite rightly]

    2. Lots of people have been failed by schools. Far too many

    3. Lots of people have lost the work ethic.

    So the question is what to do about it.

    1. Making people work for their benefit does have advantages. They are contributing. They are learning something, even if it is a simple as turning up for work. If they volunteer, that would be great, but many aren’t.

    2. In order to employ someone, they need to generate more income, or more savings in costs, than the cost of employing them. Total cost. Otherwise you make a loss, and that puts other people’s jobs at risk

    What do you do about people who can’t or won’t contribute?

    I’m working side by side for 30 hours a week for the next 6 months with people doing the exact same job and hours, but while they’re walking away with £180 in their pockets I be coming home to my £65 a week dole money.

    Probably. What do you expect when the government gets involved? Mind you, you will get your council tax, housing benefit, kids education for free, health care for free, it all adds up as someone else has to pay for it.

    6,000 a year per child for education. 1,800 per person for the NHS, … And money on top.

  44. Nick Leaton

    Yep, it’s all going down the toilet. Politicians have decided that the Olympics, HS2,m subsidies for the food, and all more important.

    Just using banker bonuses for just THIS year, would wipe out the entire debt.

    Now you’re in cuckoo land.

    Debt is 7,000 bn. Tax revenues are 550 bn and that is 50% of the economy. You can’t wipe out the debt with banker’s bonuses.

    The total tax take from all bankers is around the 55 bn a year mark.

    The government deficit, overspend, or increase in borrowing is 150 bn a year.

    Government borrowing doesn’t equal debt. There are other debts, such as your pension.

  45. Sue Davies

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) http://t.co/HztS939r

  46. Pam

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) http://t.co/HztS939r

  47. Paul Trembath

    "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis): http://t.co/yB7DZJkU by @alexhern

  48. Kate Summerside

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) http://t.co/TgZWg1Ut

  49. Look Left – Wonga’s student ‘scam’ comes unstuck | Left Foot Forward

    […] Last night, disability campaigner Sue Marsh debated the reforms with employment minister Chris Grayling, and, at times, Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, who seemed to be falling over herself to spin the coalition line, at one stage even accusing opponents of the reforms of “demonising the government”. Yes, really. Watch the debate and read a transcript of it here. […]

  50. Pam

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Demonising the government": Sue Marsh v Chris Grayling (and Emily Maitlis) http://t.co/UZ94b9EG

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