Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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The vulnerable are targeted to save the government money


THE government have announced new proposals to help people with disabilities to work from home as part of an effort to reduce government spending.

According to the BBC: ‘The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched a consultation on proposed changes to the work capability assessment – the test aimed at establishing how a disability or illness limits a claimant’s ability to work. The proposals include:

·         Updating the categories associated with mobility and social interaction

·         Reflecting flexible and home working – and minimising the risk of these issues causing problems for workers

·         Providing “tailored support” for those found capable of work preparation activity in light of the proposed changes

‘The consultation is expected to run for eight weeks, and the Government hopes the reforms will come into force by 2025 – which will be after the next general election.’

Not everyone is on board with these proposals. James Taylor of the disability equality charity Scope said that if people are forced to look for work when they are unwell this could make them even more ill. ‘If they don’t meet strict conditions, they’ll have their benefits stopped. In the grips of a cost-of-living crisis this could be catastrophic.’

While I don’t necessarily see these reforms as entirely ridiculous, there are aspects which irk me. First, the reason for these proposals; to reduce government spending. It seems to me that the vulnerable are being asked to dig the government out of a hole they created for themselves. In the 13 years they’ve been in power – certainly the last few years – they have made past Labour administrations look like misers. HS2 hasn’t gone away, so far costing the taxpayer in excess of £40billion, expected to reach £100billion or more.

Aid is continuing to flow to countries such as India, which is spending UK taxpayers’ contributions on vanity projects including space programmes.

Hundreds of millions have been sent to France and Rwanda to help fix a migration problem which remains a serious issue and as for Ukraine, I couldn’t even hazard a guess at the amount. This is before you get to the £6million-plus per day that UK taxpayers are spending to keep illegal migrants, in other words criminals, in 4/5 star luxury, that figure ballooning when you consider the ‘allowance’ they receive each day for spending and the legal aid they’re given to help keep them here.

Billions are spent each year on supporting useless quangos, domestic and global, and then there’s Net Zero with its pointless targets.

Shutting down businesses during successive lockdowns will have cost this country a fortune and whatever you think of the government’s Smoke Free enterprise, that’s one hell of a tax black hole they’re creating by pressuring people to quit. No matter, they can recoup that with the fuel tax they’re getting from petrol and diesel vehicles. Oh, wait . . .

You can see where I’m going with this. This government have spent money – taxpayers’ money, by the way, not ‘government money’ as it is often reported – as if it’s going out of fashion, with no support from the public on any of these enterprises, except maybe Ukraine. No one asked the government to shut down the country. I can’t think of a single person who thinks HS2 is a good idea. While many know that part of their taxes are being used in foreign aid, I’m pretty sure a good number have no idea that it may be spent on space programmes.

Practically every day, you will hear a government spokesman bemoan the boat crossings and promise to do something about the flow of illegal migrants to our shores but nothing is being done. There’s an awful lot of money being spent but dinghies arrive every day with the arrivals taken by coach to hotels, closed to tourists and the UK public, where they can be elevated to the head of the asylum and housing queue, jumping ahead of genuine claimants and vulnerable people who have been on housing waiting lists for sometimes years.

As for the disability proposal, I can see pros and cons. I fully agree with James Taylor from Scope that it could be catastrophic for those with severe disabilities. Some people thrive on pressure, others cope with it. However, severely mentally ill people struggle with pressure; the smallest issues which most of us could resolve in an instant can be insurmountable to someone with serious mental illness so the idea of having to deal with this, even in the safety of their own homes, could push them over the edge. Not that it would matter to someone like Mel Stride, the current Minister for Work and Pensions. More suicides would reduce government spending which, after all, is the target.

And what sort of jobs will people be able to do from home? Will they be varied, ie, the sort of jobs in which the sufferer will be suitably qualified to do? I’m not so sure.

I firmly believe that if there are people on disability benefits who want to work, support should be provided to help them into employment, but not everyone is in that position and they shouldn’t be forced into a situation which will exacerbate their condition, especially by bureaucrats whose sole intention will be ticking boxes and bringing the numbers. I’ve met these people and I can tell you that quality of care and life mean as little to them as mental healthcare means to the government. Assessments are often stressful for the sufferer, even more so when they’re faced with someone who does not understand their condition.

I don’t believe government should stop looking at solutions for disability. I rather think the Uniparty has kicked the can down the road for years by creating a pill-popping environment which keeps genuine sufferers in isolation while handing out a one-size-fits-all approach to people who are feeling a little bit sad. When parity was created between physical and mental illness, there should have been consultations on how best to offer a substantial quality of life for disabled people, but for the government it was all about creating a visible banner proclaiming that they are the party which cares, rather than the party which gets its hands dirty. Virtue signalling at its best.

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Michael Fahey
Michael Fahey
Michael Fahey is a social conservative and mental health carer.

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