Monday, September 18, 2023

Huddled Masses Opting Out


In a supplication reminiscent of the entreaty at the base of the statue of liberty in New York harbour, the UK Work and Pensions Secretary appeals to those of the working class who, through no fault of their own, are unable to offer themselves up to full-time, long-term exploitation, to help reduce the financial burden of running this particular capitalist entity.

The MailOnline reports: ‘One million people on sickness benefits could be forced to start looking for jobs including thousands with mobility and anxiety problems as the Government gets set to slash billions from its welfare budget,

More: ‘Up to a million sickness and disability benefit claimants are to be ordered to seek work. Unveiled by Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride the blitz is aimed at slashing the £26billion welfare budget’.

An estimated 2.5 million incapacity claimants are deemed unable to work and languish on handouts. But ministers believe this total could be cut by hundreds of thousands if those excused work because of mobility or anxiety problems are told to look for employment.

They also hope the shake-up will plug gaps in the labour market and boost the economy. Official surveys suggest that up to half a million people on sickness benefits want a job and are keen to receive help’.

Those deemed capable of work could have their benefits docked if they refuse to cooperate.

The British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is quoted as saying; ‘helping people back into work could 'transform lives ... providing not just greater financial security, but also providing purpose that has the power to benefit individuals, their families, and their communities... The steps we're taking will ensure no one is held back from reaching their full potential through work, which is key to ensuring our economy is growing and fit for the future.'

Perhaps he should contemplate becoming a stand-up comedian?

Those with an interest in the welfare of the disabled are understandably concerned: “James Taylor of Scope, a disability equality charity, said: 'We're worried these proposals will end up forcing huge numbers of disabled people to look for work when they aren't well enough, making them more ill. If they don't meet strict conditions, they'll have their benefits stopped. In the grips of a cost-of-living crisis this could be catastrophic.'

Sarah White, of the disability charity Sense, said: 'We're seriously concerned that if the Government does overhaul its assessment process without putting any additional support in place, then disabled people are just going to be put under more pressure to find work, without having the support they need to do so.'”.

‘Why put workers through costly training programmes when there are ample skilled workers already available, albeit suffering ill-health or disability to varying degrees? Far better to meet the demands for a low paid, short-term casual and part-time workforce by scraping the barrel and getting the skilled disabled—specifically those who are suffering less than 65 percent disability—back into the labour market. With 2.8 million people of working age claiming benefits due to ill-health or disability, Harriet Harman, the Secretary of State for Social Security, intends to ensure their amount of benefits does not act a disincentive to them returning to employment.

This explains the emphasis Tony Blair places on “offering the opportunity” to those who are sick and disabled to provide for themselves with “appropriate support”. But such explanations also provide the means for the Blair government to distance itself from the present obligation of “provision of universal benefits for life” to a scenario of capping universal entitlement to incapacity and disability benefits to one, or two years, so that after that period means tested benefits come into operation’.

From Goodbye to the Welfare State . . . as we know it (1998)

Socialist Standard March 1998

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