The Employment Support Allowance Trap

by Frances Kelly

Here is a thumbnail of a person with disability. They have hope. They would
like to work. Realistically they know this probably isn’t going to be easy or perhaps even possible.

The government have set an Employment Support Allowance  trap for people like this and so far it is working like a dream. Sheffield Hallam statisticians  say 600,000 genuinely disabled people will fall in to the black hole and lose their benefits. Disabled people – amongst the poorest and most vulnerable in the country – will have their money taken to pay for the deficit created by others.
While the trap is working this well it can be extended to Disability Living Allowance/ Personal Independence Payment/ Universal Credit  – any/all future disability benefits.
The trap is laid with thumbnails. Disability comes in so many forms and degrees that people are forced to resort to quick thumbnail sketches in debates. So the trick is to start with one thumbnail and then deftly slip to
another without any one noticing the switch.

That is called a confidence trick.
Of course the favourite thumbnail is the fit, feckless scrounger pretending to have a bad back while refereeing football matches – boo hiss – the audience wakes up and remembers why they don’t care about disability. The Minister then slips this thumbnail to Incapacity Benefit claimants who he says have been claiming for years.  Long term illnesses are like that – they go on  for years – that’s why they are called long term. Let’s have a real thumbnail of a person with a long term degenerative condition.
Time to show compassion. The next thumbnail is the poor person so ill –
 they will never work again’. This was originally set up under ESA at 10% but they have had to increase it because of the absurdity of the level of  successful appeals. This is the Support Group where people are not expected to work. This sounds fine but for many people  it is actually not a good place to be. Safe but no hope. No young person should be there. But given the alternative people will continue to try and get in to the Support Groups because safety will win out over hope.
The alternative to the Support Group is the Work Related Activity group (WRAG.) This is the group for the majority of disabled people.                         

And it is a trick.

The thumbnail for the WRAG is a person not able to work but able to manage a
little back to work activity. In the early days of ESA it was suggested that this might be as gentle as an  occasional massage. But once you are in the WRAG just watch that thumbnail slip. No medical miracle has occurred. You still have a permanent or deteriorating condition, but you are subjected to compulsory interviews and work activity under threat of sanctions and loss
of benefit.

Then the thumbnail slips again and a time limit comes in. The  thumb nail is now a worker who is definitely on their way to work and the clock has started ticking before your benefit will stop. How did the thumbnail slip from a person who is assessed as unable to work to a person who will work.                              

It’s a trick.
ESA is flawed. The two groups are not fit for purpose. Neither of the groups  actually fits disabled people. Professor Harrington is doomed like Sisyphus  to forever attempt an impossible task.

Nothing he can do to the descriptors can change the flaw in the design of the groups.
Here’s a real thumbnail of a person with disability. They have hope. They would like to work. Realistically they know this probably isn’t going to be easy
or perhaps even possible.
Stick to the real thumbnail and design a group for the them.

Please leave comments below  or

contact Frances Kelly

Also please sign Pats Petition here and ask as many people/groups to do the same. 


8 Responses to “The Employment Support Allowance Trap”

  1. ockletycockletywitch Says:

    Well, we hear today that that Cam-moron is going to use “ancient law” to steamroller this legislation through no matter what. It’s time for all nett non-contributors to the great God ‘economy’ to do the decent thing and top ourselves!

  2. Sue Brock Says:

    My son is due to claim for ESA this year. I have had to make precisely the above choice —— hope or safety. I shall have to opt for safety and “fight” for my son to be in the support group. My son is 19 this year. He has been educated at home for the past 5 years. In theory as he has a disability he should be entitled to education until he is 25. He will not receive it as this (apparently) can only happen if he is in the Work Related Activity Group.

    My ray of hope has been that when my son is claiming benefits in his own right I may be able (at some point when he can be left for a while) get a low paid local job. Now I hear that in the Welfare reform bill disabled kids are no longer going to be automatically entitled to benefit in their own right but that it will be means tested (not on any money they have) but on “household” income. Yes the Lords voted this out but the Torys have said they will vote it back in again!

    So no hope for my son and none for me either. With DLA being attacked and maybe removed I dont see how my son and I can actually survive financially.

    • Wendy MacKenzie Says:

      Sue – don’t give up hope. Lord Fraud is on the record now with the promises he has made to The House about ‘safeguards’ and ‘pilot schemes’ et al. If these are not fulfilled we have recourse to law and that will be our opportunity to get this wretched legislation overturned. Not much comfort in the meantime, I know, but we MUST all keep fighting. I wish you and your son the very best possible outcomes in this sick and sordid Society we live in.

  3. simon briggs Says:

    I’m getting sick of this making me ill

  4. TCampbell Says:

    I totally agree. I’m in the WRAG-trap and feel doomed to face the constant battle to prove I have a severe disability and no one cares or is listening. ESA sucks and so does the government. I trust no one now.

  5. daniel raimo Says:

    I have a rare heart condition and not allowed to work. I think its totally disgusting that the government should treat genuine ill people like this. It is definately making me ill. It is about time this government should go.

    • Sue Brock Says:

      My dad was telling me a story re a friend of his who was told he must not work by his Dr. In the end due to “pressure” from neighbours (dad says he was actually driven back to work) he did go back to work. He died within a month. What is happening to our society?

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