Assault On Sick

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The government is planning a new savage assault on the sick and disabled.

A government-commissioned review by Professor Carol Black and former head of the British Chambers of Commerce David Frost has said that people should be designated as long-term sick only by an ‘independent assessment service’ and not GPs.

Under review proposals, people designated as being sick would be put on the Job Seekers’ Allowance, instead of the Employment Support Allowance, for a period of three months.

They would receive less money and have to prove they were looking for work.

Black and Frost estimate the changes would force 20 per cent of the sick off benefits and into some kind of work.

Frost claimed that when people were away from work for periods of over four weeks ‘you start to lose the will to work’.

Welfare reform minister Lord Freud claimed: ‘We just don’t get adequate help for people early enough when they need it and what we are creating in there is an incubator for lifelong idleness for far too many people.’

A DWP spokesman said: ‘The economy loses £15bn in lost economic output each year due to sickness absence and we cannot continue to foot this bill.’

Meanwhile, eighteen Church of England bishops have signed an open letter, criticising the government’s proposed welfare changes.

The bishops express concerns about plans to limit the amount any household can claim in benefits to £500 a week.

The bishops say the cap could be ‘profoundly unjust’ to children in the poorest families.

The Children’s Society, which supported the bishops’ letter, has warned the cap could make more than 80,000 children homeless.

Last week, a study on behalf of London Councils said about 133,000 households in London would be unable to afford their rent if the proposed changes went ahead.