So. Today the House of Commons are discussing the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. This is the Bill that will cut the Employment Support Allowance payments received by disabled people in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) by thirty pounds every week to the same level as non-disabled people receiving Job Seekers Allowance. And the justification the Government for this move? Apparently, cutting disabled people’s benefits will ’incentivise’ them to go out and get a job.
What is is about sickness and disability that this Government just isn’t getting?
According to the Government, and the Department of Work and Pensions, sick and disabled people can be put to one of two categories for welfare benefits purposes. There are those people who are so sick and disabled they will never be able to work and then there are those people who may be able to work one day if they are given the right support to get to that point. And it’s that second group which will be affected by this Bill.
In my opinion, it’s pretty simple really. Someone who is sick or disabled has a medical condition which limits the work they may, or may not be able to do. Either that or they need support in applying for and securing employment and support in keeping that employment once they have obtained it. That’s what the WRAG group is all about. The Government has decided that people in WRAG should receive the same amount of money as people who are receiving Job Seekers Allowance but that they will get extra help with finding and securing a job. Now that’s a great idea, as long as it works. Many, many disabled people would love to work, just a long as they get some support to enable them to do so. The problem is, as far as I can see, that the Government also wants to withdraw that support too, namely, the Access to Work Scheme. The Government seems to want sick and disabled people to go into workplaces without any additional help whatsoever. Wonderful plan but it just will not work. Disabled people are perfectly capable of working, just as long as they get the help and support that WRAG and Access to Work provides, such as personal support, aids and adaptations. Without that personal support, without those aids and adaptations, sick and disabled people cannot go out to work. WRAG was devised as a way of supporting sick and disabled people into work. It was devised as a way of recognising the additional costs someone who is sick or disabled may encounter in trying to do exactly what the Government wants in working their way out of poverty. Cutting it to the same level as Jobseekers Allowance takes away the very amount claimants receive for additional disability costs. ESA WRAG and Job Seekers Allowance become the same thing. No difference between them. What is the point.
Actually, thinking about what is being proposed, is this how the Government is going to reduce the cost of sick and disabled people to the National Health Service? Is this how the Government are planning on reducing the NHS Bill? Have they found some kind of magic bullet for so many medical conditions? Reduce the amount of money sick and disabled people have for the necessities of life such as shelter, heating and sustenance and they will all get better and be able to go out to work. Is the Government, and largely, the Conservative Party, trying to tell us that a reduction in the welfare payments a sick or disabled claimant in WRAG receives will magically cure them of whatever it that ails them because that is what it sounds like. Somehow, I don’t think that’s how healthcare works. If it was as simple as that, surely someone would have spotted it sooner than this.
Leave people in WRAG alone and try chasing after the people and companies who are evading tax altogether to make up the fiscal deficit. Leave people in WRAG alone and try going for the people like the bankers who caused the problems we are having. Leave people in WRAG alone and try stop trying to punish the people at the bottom just for being at the bottom. Welfare Benefit reductions are a quick fix, not a long term solution. Leave people in WRAG alone, look to your own and try something else instead.