Up to two thirds of people claiming incapacity benefit are not entitled to the state handout, the Government\’s new welfare adviser warns today.

Ya Think?

Anybody at all who has looked at these figures knows that Incapacity Benefit has been a parking place for long term unemployed.

I\’m not sure about the rules now but a few years ago I remember asking someone running a successful football blog why he didn\’t take advertising. The answer was that even the modest (he might have made £100, £150 a month) income would have threatened his Incapacity and other benefits. As those included housing benefit etc it simply wasn\’t worth the risk.

That, I think, is the worst part about the benefit system: it\’s so damn hard to climb out of the dependency gradually. There\’s a huge swathe of income levels from paid work where disposable income can actually fall.

Just another are where a cbi can help.

11 thoughts on “Gee”

  1. Tim,

    This individual Freund appears to have said,

    “If you’re disabled, work is good for you and not working is bad for you.”

    As a semi-disabled person with occasional speech and very frequent mobility difficulties who works a full week in a professional job, may I say that I do not hold a very high opinion of this man.

    Is he a doctor? Does he know what he’s talking about? Or is he just another alpha Bizness type who thinks his limited experience of life, probably involving only ever having to look after his own interests in the pursuit of getting what he wants, has taught him the solutions to all of life’s problems?

    Incidentally, the picture attached to the telegraph’s article is subtitled ‘David Freud the new Work and Pensions Secretary’. Do they know something we don’t?

    If he actually wants to do something constructive, he could turn his rapier acuity onto the Working Tax and Child Tax Credits system, benefits designed to ape the effect of tax cuts without cutting taxes – I have a client who says she’s still waiting for her award letter for 2007-2008; or on the questionnaires used to determine eligibility for Disability Living Allowance (‘Can you stand up while cooking?’ WTF?).

  2. Martin, your working seems to prove his point. The fact that you’re a disabled person (to whatever degree) and you work should have you cheering this guy considering he’s trying to sort out the idle oiks that claim disability without significant impairment bar an absence of a work ethic.

  3. Philip,

    With the greatest respect I knew someone would feel it necessary to say something like that.

    I represent some people for whom I believe obtaining Incapacity Benefit is an aspiration; and they are very much a minority. In my area, some Incapacity Benefit claimants are being kept waiting for weeks for their claims to be processed, they are not being offered the alternative of Income Support as a stopgap and are having to take crisis loans of – gasp! – £30.00 per week to buy food and powercards. This money does, of course, have to be repaid later – off their benefits. I believe that one client of mine had to take six of them.

    And incidentally, I don’t think the Telegraph’s article is wholly accurate. I think the figure of £81.35/week they quote is the absolute top rate of Incap – I may be wrong, but I’ve heard of a lower rate of approx. £67/week.

    What I am criticising is Freund’s limitlessly insensitive and ignorant generalisations concerning what is best for the disabled. If he thinks it’s a good thing for the disabled to work, then he should tell Purnell to break open the kitty to avoid redundancies at Remploy, which when I last looked was going down the tubes in the face of globalisation. If it’s OK to bail out a bank, why not a company that specialises in providing employment for the disabled?

    Your phrase ‘idle oiks’ is eerily reminiscent of the sort of language used by 19th Century practitioners of pure laissez-faire to describe the Scots, Irish, landless and any other type of casualty of progress. It ‘s the cousin of the type of language used to justify the Poor Law, the Combination Act (did you know that William Wilberforce was as vehemently opposed to labour’s right to organise as he was to slavery?) and Malthusian inspired mass emigration. If this were 1840, the solution to the Incapacity Benefit problem would have been to pay for the claimants just to bugger off to Canada so we wouldn’t have to look at them. Thanks, but no thanks.

  4. Martin,
    I speak as a former JobCentre Advisor and mobility impaired person. Your analysis is spot on. I am tired of being lectured down to about what disabled people want. What disabled people want is just what “normal” people take for granted. I still shudder at the memory of some fundamentalist Christians telling me at Uni that my disability was the result of sin – years before Glen Hoddle’s ballsup. Has the Son of the Manse ordained that the undeserving (uneconomic) disabled should be plonked into any job because it tidies them away neatly? In the target culture of the DWP that’s what we were expected to do. So if a graduate is found a job licking envelopes (spazzers are apparently especially well qualified for this because of their compenpensatorily well developed drooling skills 🙂 ) then tick the box and close the case.

  5. The nub of the problem (and the problem to which Freud has put forward a possible solution) is encapsulated in this quote from the Telegraph “But in his view, fewer than a third of those on incapacity benefit are really too ill to get a job. “When the whole rot started in the 1980s we had 700,000. I suspect that’s much closer to the real figure than the one we’ve got now.””

    What Freud is implying and what Tim has written is that a large part of those currently receiving disability benefits are unemployed but not unemployable by virtue of disability. I don’t think that Tim (although he can speak for himself) or Freud – or I for that matter – would want to see the unemployable disabled lose any of their benefit: I would like to see such benefits as they’re entitled to increased (the important word here is “entitled”). Moreover, if the non-disabled unemployed were thrown off the disability benefit rolls and made to get a job – any job (by time limiting their entitlement to job-seeker’s allowance) – there would be more money available for the genuinely disabled.

    It serves the cause of the genuinely disabled very badly if they seek to defend all those presently claiming disability benefits when it appears that a large number of such claimants are not in reality entitled to receive those benefits.

  6. Absolutely, Umbongo.

    Martin, I’ve no idea why you took umbrage with my phrase considering I absolutely was not referring to you, nor any other genuinely disabled person. The fact is that from my own experience I know of people claiming incapacity benefit that are far from disabled and eminently capable of the employment that they choose to avoid. One of them props up the bar at my local pub.

    It is precisely because I give a shit about the well being of disabled people (of which I teach a number) that I take such issue with the bone idle consuming the very limited resources we put aside to assist them.

    It really pisses me off that whenever someone tries to point out how ridiculously exploited the benefits system currently is that they are cried down as not caring for those that genuinely need it. The reality is the absolute opposite and you’re being a total prick for suggesting otherwise.

  7. Umbongo,

    You write,

    “What Freud is implying and what Tim has written is that a large part of those currently receiving disability benefits are unemployed but not unemployable by virtue of disability. ”

    Although my xeperience is entirely subjective, I’ve outlined my reasons for why I disagree with that assumption above.


    I was criticing your use of the expression ‘idle oiks’ to describe anyone, never mind disabled people; that you were not referring to me was understood.

    “It really pisses me off that whenever someone tries to point out how ridiculously exploited the benefits system currently is that they are cried down as not caring for those that genuinely need it”.

    It irritates me as well; although I do not understand how the interests of those in genuine need of these benefits are best served by having the causes of their need being subjected to constant, and very narrow, ideological critique.

    I won’t dignify your last comment with a retort. Suffice it to say I don’t think it’s very becoming of a teacher and Ph.D.

    What all this debate does show, of course, is that the precise level of unemployment has been unmeasurable since the Tories introduced Incapacity Benefit in the ’80’s; and that every significant economic policy undertaken since then has, more likely than not, been based on imprecise readings of the true state of the country’s economic health.

  8. Oh, so my comment is not worthy of retort but implying I’m of some Victorian mindset that would subject the disabled to transportation for life is fine and dandy. You’ll have to forgive me for getting upset about that, it’s just one of my little quirks. You may refrain from swearing but you are often startlingly rude, so come off that high ground you like to stare down at the more colourfully-tongued from.

    And yes, you are right to point out that there are many problems, e.g. its slow pace and bureaucracy, with the current benefits system beyond its exploitation. I have repeatedly advocated a CBI as a means to resolve some of these.

  9. THe problem with a CBI in this instance (the major problem of course is no-one’s demonstrated how it would be affordable without very high marginal tax rates) is that it wouldn’t differentiate between the disabled and the non-disabled. And it seems obvious that in some cases a CBI would not be high enough.

  10. As a current DWP employee, I am quite surprised at our new SecOfState’s assertion. Where does he get these figures from? Perhaps it was all those claimants who ticked “yes” to the section of the INCAP claim form “Are you just yanking our chain”.

    Or perhaps its just a sweeping statement, that has some truth albiet totally unverifyable and without details. I can certainly produce lots of anecdotal examples of people who could work whilst claiming INCAP, but here’s the thing. If the govt wants to provide the correct analysis, training and support, that is going to cost the taxpayer a lot of money. I often see people claim INCAP for an easy life, and a year or two down the line, they will be depressed, and largely incapable of work. It’s a poisioned chalice.

    What would the DWP need? New programmes, new staff to run them. More therapists and doctors to help people back into work, probably thousands of them. I’d personally like to see someone from any party stand up and declare that they wanted to reduce those on benefits, but that they would have to raise taxes to do so.

    Or else you could try and do it on the cheap, and risk having genuine claimants lose their money. There’s no cheap and easy cut and dry solution, folks.

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