The Socialist 13 July 2006 |
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Welfare Reform Bill scapegoats disabled people!
THE BLAIR government has brought out a new Welfare Reform Bill that
aims to 'save' billions in incapacity and other benefits by forcing
disabled people (among others) into poverty. MIKE HIGGINS (Sheffield
Socialist Party) wrote this leaflet for a local demonstration against
THE DEPARTMENT for Work and Pensions have poorly thought-out plans to
get one million people off Incapacity Benefit. The government are trying
to divide disabled people into the worthy and unworthy poor.
They talk about work for those who can and help for those who can't.
The reality is that New Labour plans to bully disabled people off
benefits into low-paid, slave labour jobs, which are both exploitative
and unsuitable. This isn't only an attack on disabled people but on the
wages and conditions of all organised workers. Disabled people who
refuse such slave-labour employment will have their benefits cut.
The problem isn't in our attitude towards working, it lies in
employers' reluctance to offer us jobs. If New Labour were really
serious about 'helping disabled people into work' it would do more to
tackle the widespread discrimination against us amongst most big
Where are these jobs going to come from? Will the government put
money into the Access To Work Scheme (set up to provide equipment, etc
to disabled people in employment) so as to ensure that any necessary
adjustments are made to workplaces? If the government won't find the
resources needed, the scheme won't work!
Why are we on Incapacity Benefit in the first place? Why did many of
us lose our jobs when we became disabled people? Why do employers prefer
to train someone new, rather than enable someone who knows the job to
carry on working?
Why is the media now full of Incapacity Benefit fraud stories? We are
the new scapegoats. First it was unmarried mums, next came asylum
seekers/refugees. Now add disabled people to that list.
Why does New Labour assume it is full-time, long-term work that we
want, are capable of doing and is available? Many disabled people have
fluctuating conditions. Some of us have regular medical appointments.
Some of us need adjustments in the workplace and/or support from work
colleagues. If we work, our work patterns need to take these issues into
The Disabled People's Movement agrees meaningful jobs are a key to
disabled people escaping out of poverty. But we say NO to being forced
off benefits into low-paid work. NO to coercion and punitive cutting of
benefits. NO to care charges. NO to their hands in our pockets.
We say YES to a flexible and realistic approach to all the issues of
work and benefits. YES to disabled people's freedom to choose work. And
YES to ending discrimination against disabled people!
More on the implications of the Welfare Reform Bill in future issues.
Stop privatising Jobcentre Plus
ON 4 JULY, the day the Welfare Reform Bill was published, Jobcentre
Plus announced the privatisation of 'Pathways To Work' work in 60% of
its districts during 2007 and 2008.
This includes plans to privatise areas of work for the Employment
Support Allowance - the proposed new benefit replacing Incapacity
Benefit. Areas to be privatised are 'back-to-work' support, some
decision-making on sanctions and safeguards and, 'perhaps' work-focused
interviews relating to benefit claims.
When Jobcentre Plus first said that 'Pathways To Work' would be
privatised they said it was because Jobcentre Plus no longer had the
people or the expertise to carry out the work because of the 17,000 job
cuts and the 13,000 more to go by 2008.
They also said the Treasury had told them they couldn't have any new
jobs for this work. Management had to admit that the private sector
doesn't have the expertise either and would need time to acquire it!
The only place the private sector can get this expertise is from
existing workers in Jobcentre Plus. This will mean further job losses
These proposals come hard on the heels of swingeing attacks on
working conditions in a so-called 'modernisation' of human resources
(personnel) policies. We must step up the fight against job cuts,
worsening conditions and privatisation in Jobcentre Plus to stop further