Iain Duncan Smith is a cheap f*ck

By DeusExMacintosh

 

I imagine that £10 is less than even the most desperate British street-walker would accept for being screwed in this economic climate. It is however the generous “Christmas Bonus” I’ve received as a benefits claimant just days before the DWP sent me a lovely additional present in the form of a distinctive brown envelope inviting me to be forcibly ‘migrated’ from Incapacity Benefit to the new Employment and Support Allowance. This, on the Friday before Xmas.

Nice timing, Iain. I hope Santa uses your chimney as a chamber pot.

Christmas wouldn’t be the same without myths. The ongoing controversy surrounding the guy in the red suit and white beard is the most enduring, along with more theological arguments.

But you’ll have to go some way to beat the myths being peddled – and accepted – over benefits. More than half of people believe unemployment benefits are too high, according to a recent Social Attitudes survey. It also revealed that almost two thirds of people think child poverty is due to parents who don’t want to work.

In other words, if you’re on benefits and/or out of work, you’re a workshy scrounger. That the jobseekers allowance is just £67.50 a week is clearly immaterial in the public perception.

This is the triumph of the government’s demonisation of benefits and those who receive them. We now have an environment in which proposals to make people undergoing chemotherapy prove they are not well enough to work somehow haven’t sparked an outraged backlash. Forcing someone undergoing chemo to work, or to take tests to prove they can’t work, is to subject them to the kind of stress that may threaten their recovery.

It’s all part of the new sickness benefit (employment and support allowance), which will be paid only for a year to those unable to work because of illness. After one year claimants will only be eligible for means-tested income support, if they’re still unable to work. If their partner earns more than £149 a week, they’ll get nothing. That includes people who have been through cancer treatment, for whom one year is usually a woefully short recovery time.

As The Scotsman goes on to point out, Incapacity Benefit is a contributions-based benefit for which disabled workers may have contributed many years of National Insurance, it has no time limit other than retirement age which is useful as more often than not it goes to former workers with permanent disabilities. It is fully taxable but not means-tested which makes it possible to attempt even part-time work and come home with at least a low wage. The only reason it hasn’t had more impact in encouraging this behaviour is the high tax rates paid by low earners and means-testing rules applied to things like rent and council tax benefits that limit your possible income to £20 a week (whether this is from ‘permitted work’ or investment returns on a compensation lump sum for example).

DWP spokespeople vow continually to “make work pay” but this would cost money to actually achieve – you’d need to convince the Treasury to raise the tax-free threshold to £10,000 a year for everybody in the country. Reducing the levels of Housing Benefit would also cost money – you’d have to eliminate the couples penalty which reduces means-tested benefits if two recipients move in together and is the single-most “anti-family” policy of an avowedly “pro-family” government. The intention to simply slash the availability of benefits just forces the emergency accommodation expense onto local authorities and the social care sector, effectively robbing Peter (central government)  to save Paul (the local Authorities who administer rental assistance).

Reducing the expenditure of the Department for Work and Pensions on disability benefits would actually mean slashing administration costs by accepting the established – and pre-funded – expertise and independence of NHS consultants and increasing the number of ‘passported eligibility’ conditions like motor neurone disease (even if occasional statistical outliers like Steven Hawking CAN work). This is only possible at the not insignificant cost of scrapping the expensive contracts ATOS has been handed to re-examine every single one of the millions of disabled or chronically ill people currently on benefits in the spurious name of “personalisation”, which has generated the extra costs of an already imploding appeals system conservatively priced at between 50 and 80 million pounds every year (though at least this could claim to be genuinely encouraging employment in the legal sector.)

This whole welfare reform process is a bit like paying £50 for an undrinkable bottle of wine solely to qualify for a free box of christmas crackers valued at a fiver. There are cheaper ways to save money.

So what’s it like to be a disabled person reliant on benefits and facing this whole process this Christmas? Well, it’s interesting, as well as very, VERY stimulating. (And in case the expression in that photo looks a bit familiar…)

Police Academy – Good Speech

You’ll have to excuse me, I have IDS – Irritable Duncan Syndrome. Bah humbug, everybody.

2 Comments

  1. kvd
    Posted December 25, 2011 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    Well I for one wish to thank IDS for his ability to get that stupid cat thing off the top of the blog so rapidly 😉

    Cheer up DEM – life is full of little pricks. Good practice for ducking the slings and arrows.

  2. Posted December 25, 2011 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    kvd: it made me laugh. Merry inappropriate* Winter Solstice festivities everyone 🙂

    *Well, it is if you are in the Southern Hemisphere. Still, in Oz, high Summer is the Dead Time, so it sort of works.

One Trackback

  1. By Skepticlawyer » It’s Just Not Cricket on January 10, 2012 at 1:46 am

    […] mentioned in a previous post my Xmas present from the Department for Work and Pensions was the notice of migration so I am currently completing the ESA50 Capability for Work questionnaire and its twenty pages of […]

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