TORY Chancellor Hunt turned his fire on the sick, the disabled, the mentally ill and the unemployed in his vicious, vindictive anti-working class Autumn Statement yesterday.
While announcing massive tax cuts and handouts for the rich and big business, he delivered a warning that the most vulnerable in society are to be persecuted, thrown off benefits and driven into destitution.
Hunt said: ‘Post-pandemic, we still have seven million adults of working age, excluding students, who are not working, despite one million vacancies in the economy…
‘Every year we sign off over 100,000 people onto benefits with no requirement to look for work because of sickness or disability. That waste of potential is wrong economically and wrong morally.
‘So with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions last week I announced our Back to Work Plan. We will reform the Fitnote process, so that treatment rather than time off becomes the default. We will reform the Work Capability Assessment, to reflect greater flexibility and availability of home working after the pandemic and we’ll spend £1.3 billion over the next five years to help nearly 700,000 people with health conditions find jobs.
‘Over 180,000 more people will be helped through the Universal Support Programme and nearly 500,000 more people will be offered treatment for mental health conditions and employment support.
‘Over the forecast period the OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) judged these measures will more than half the flow of people who are signed off work with no Work Search Requirements.
‘At the same time we will provide a further £1.3 billion of funding to offer extra help to the 300,000 people who have been unemployed for over a year without any sickness or disability.
‘But we will ask for something in return: if after 18 months of intensive support jobseekers have not found a job, we will roll out a programme requiring them to take part in mandatory work placement to increase their skills and improve their employability.
‘And if they choose not to engage with the work service process for six months we will close their case and stop their benefits.’
‘Taken together with the labour supply measures I announced in the spring, the OBR say we will increase the number of people in work by around 200,000 by the end of the forecast period.’
In contrast, Hunt handed out billions to big business by making permanent a tax break that allows them to avoid paying Corporation Tax by defining profits as ‘investments’.