NEW Tory Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb used his first major speech yesterday to state that he believes the employment rate for disabled people is ‘simply unacceptable’. And he outlined his plan to drive disabled people off benefits and into work.
Crabb told a meeting of the Early Intervention Foundation in London that ‘300,000 more disabled people have moved into work over the past two years. In the context of a very strong labour market and the millions of people that have moved into work over the last few years, that gap is simply unacceptable.’
The hated ‘fit-for-work’ programme has resulted in many disabled people being wrongly assessed as ‘fit for work’ and thrown off benefits. As a result, many have become suicidal. Statistics, which the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) were forced to release, revealed that nearly 90 people a month are dying after being declared ‘fit for work’.
A Freedom of Information request found that thousands of disabled people died within a few weeks of being found ‘fit for work’. Crabb went on to stress that he is committed to rolling out Universal Credit, which will be available in all jobcentres for the first time this month.
This puts six benefits into one monthly payment, meaning that it is then up to the claimant to decide whether to eat, heat or pay rent, as there will not be enough money to do all three.
Rossanna Trudgian, head of campaigns at the learning disability charity Mencap, said: ‘Disabled people will be disappointed to hear little in Stephen Crabb’s first major speech as to how this government will overturn the harmful effects from the past six years of cuts to benefits and the social care sector.’
Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: ‘Universal Credit will leave people worse off than under the current system and ministers refuse to say what impact it will have on the number of people in poverty.’
A Channel 4 Dispatches programme, aired on Monday night, showed the Tory government’s ‘fitness to work’ assessors employed by the privateer Capita ridiculing disabled people. The programme investigated the impact of the planned changes to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which in two years will disappear to be replaced by the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
It revealed the private contract ‘assessors’ acting unprofessionally and making disparaging remarks about claimants. One ‘assessor’ featured in the programme said he sometimes completed assessment forms before even meeting claimants.
Richard Kramer, Deputy CEO of Sense, the national deaf-blind charity, said: ‘We’re deeply concerned by what we have seen in this episode of Dispatches. The sight of “fitness-for-work” assessors ridiculing claimants will cause distress for disabled people that already fear the assessments are geared towards saving money, rather than ensuring they receive sufficient benefit to live their lives.’