PUBLIC sector union Unison yesterday slammed the latest Tory and Labour attacks on disabled people and the unemployed.
Tory leader Cameron announced a ‘big bold’ shake up of the welfare system at the Tory party conference in Manchester.
The Tories plan to get more people off incapacity benefit (IB) and ‘into work’.
Claimants would be assessed to see if they could work and those deemed fit would be taken off employment support allowance and put on jobseekers allowance, cutting their benefits by £25 a week.
The Tories plan to scrap Labour’s flagship New Deal programme in favour of more personalised and targeted ‘help’, offering training courses for those unemployed for more than six months. Benefits would be cut if people refused to take part.
In an extension of Labour’s pilot scheme, private training firms would be used to assess all those on incapacity benefit.
Not to be outdone by the Tories, Labour Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper announced work trials and work experience will be made mandatory for long term jobless as part of a major expansion of ‘employment support and welfare reform to get people back to work’.
A Unison spokesperson told News Line: ‘Without a welfare system people will be left without a safety net, which is vital during times of economic difficulty.
‘The Tories should be clamping down on tax evaders, not hitting those who need help the hardest.
‘Unemployed people need support to get them back to work, but removing their benefits if they refuse to work for free, or for very little, will not solve the problem.
‘We know the Tories also want to see the minimum wage and public spending scrapped – this is the worst way possible to fight unemployment.’
A DWP statement said: ‘The Government is rolling out the next phase of welfare reform designed to help more than three-quarters of a million people back into work by the end of next year.
‘Today sees the start of the Flexible New Deal, involving private, public and third sector partners.’
It warned: ‘The Government believes that this extra help should be accompanied by a stronger responsibility for people to take up help which is on offer and could get them back into work.
‘In trial areas from next year, where jobseekers have been out of work for more than six months but have turned down work experience, support or training that could help them get jobs, advisors will be able to require them to take up a work trial or work experience placement as a condition of continuing to receive benefit.’
Cooper insisted ‘everyone has to do their bit to find work or take up the new help that’s on offer.’