The Welfare Reforms
The Welfare Reforms were brought in in the last two years of the Labour Govenrment with the full co operation of the Tories. They go far wider than sickness and cover all claimants. The idea is that every one on welfare must go back to work.
So now almost no one is considered too ill to work. This has been phrased as – however ill you are you will be happier working so we are going to help you back to work. Almost the only people exempted are those with less than six months to live.
People believe that lots of people are fraudulently claiming to be ill and now the election is over the process will start of calling them in and reassessing them (not by doctors but by officials). Of the two million currently sick – half will be declared well and their sickness benefit will be stopped and replaced with unemployment benefit which is time limited and going to be very forcefully pressurised in to taking any job offered.
But for the more seriously ill they will get an ESA benefit which is conditional on retraining, dealing with your illness more positively and you will be expected to find work. While it is a wonderful aspiration and a great offer to help people with serious and enduring illness like schizophrenia to find work – the fact that it is not an open offer but accompanied with threats and sanctions and loss of benefit is a nightmare for very ill people and the tragic cases being highlighted by the Citizens Advice Bureau show the anxiety and distress this is causing to the really ill.
It’s impossible to campaign to get our new system for the very sick stopped because it is so unbelievably cruel to very sick people that neither the Tories nor Labour spelled the new system out as it was being legislated (they must have been too ashamed) and no one here has any idea how cruel it is.
All the publicity is on the malingering welfare scroungers and the really ill claimants have been swept up in this and are being terrified.
As an example think of someone with schizophrenia. They will be expected to find work or lose their benefit. For people who may have been sectioned, homeless, destitute previously in the acute stage of their illness and are now managing to stay stable and living quietly on medication – these threats bring up terrible memories and are more than cruel.