FIT AND SAFE FOR WORK?

Job Centre PlusShould people certified as medically unfit for work by doctors be forced back to work by a Government obsessed with reducing the number of welfare claimants? I’m sure the families of the dead and injured from the Glasgow bin lorry tragedy would be the first to asks for more stringent screening of employees to identify medical conditions that could compromise safety of other employees and the general public. People who are genuinely unfit for work, and by implication a risk to both themselves and others, should not be forced back to work prematurely as part of a Government cost saving exercise.

Interesting to see the Government, and in particular the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP), squirm uncomfortably at public pressure to release statistics on the number of individuals who have died shortly after having their welfare benefits cut as part of the controversial policy of sanctioning.

Sanctioning is employed by the DWP to penalise claimants who are late or don’t show for appointments, and for other minor misdemeanours that usually crop up during interviews when a claimant can ‘say the wrong thing’, perhaps being led into doing so by a clever interviewer who may be trying to hit a target aimed at reducing the welfare bill (a DWP whistle-blower has admitted this happens).

It seems unnecessarily cruel and harsh to bully mentally and physically ill people, who have been certified as medically unfit for work, in an attempt to reduce spending on welfare with an across-the-board saving rumoured to be 12%. Harassing and tricking the most vulnerable in society to say the wrong thing in an interview or turn up late for an appointment, smacks of the peevish actions of ideologically motivate right-wing minds. Iain Duncan-Smith (DWP Minister) is one such class warrior, determined to deliver on his party’s crusade to punish the sick, poor and disabled in order to reward the rich.

Is this really acceptable behaviour in a G8 country that boasts of its democracy, freedoms and welfare system for looking after the less fortunate in society? Clearly, the current UK Government wants to distance itself from the last part of that claim. I’ll leave the last word with this press statement doing the rounds on the net:-

27 Aug 2015 — Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, and a member of the work and pensions select committee, hit out at the government’s attempts to block publication of the data (on the number of deaths of sanctioned welfare claimants), saying: “It’s disgusting that this government, the one David Cameron promised would be the most open and transparent, would deliberately try and suppress these figures for so long.

“It was only because the Information Commissioner ordered the government to publish them that we can now start to see the damage Iain Duncan-Smith’s cruel regime is having on thousands of innocent and vulnerable people.

“Duncan-Smith has deliberately tried to stop publication of this information, even telling me in the House of Commons that this data didn’t exist, and that’s why I’ve written to the Prime Minister asking him to investigate if this constitutes a breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct which, if it does, he should sack him for it.”

To support the petition to force the Government to release these figures go to:-

https://www.change.org/p/hm-courts-and-tribunal-service-publish-stats-showing-how-many-people-have-died-after-their-benefits-stopped/

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