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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is considering forcing all sick and disabled people receiving Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to carry out ‘mandatory’ work related activities.
The proposal includes disabled people receiving ESA who have been placed in the Support Group – the group for people deemed entirely incapable of work.
The move could potentially require all disabled people – including those who suffer lifelong chronic conditions, as well as the terminally ill – to stay in touch with their local job centre or a designated ‘work coach’, or risk having their benefits sanctioned or cut completely.
The proposal is revealed in a 92 page green paper on work, health and disability, published earlier this week.
The document states that:
As there is currently no requirement for people in the Support Group to stay in touch with the Jobcentre, besides engaging with reassessments, we could consider implementing a ‘keep-in-touch’ discussion with work coaches.
The move could potentially see chronically disabled and terminally ill people forced into ‘face-to-face’ meetings with a ‘work coach’.
This new proposal comes just one month after DWP secretary Damien Green proudly announced he would ‘sweep away unnecessary stress and bureaucracy’ by repealing mandatory reassessments for the most severely disabled people in the ESA Support Group.
A DWP spokesperson refused to deny the possibility of work-related activity for the most severely disabled people, stating:
We recognise that people in the support group have limited capability for work related activity – but that does not necessarily mean they should be left without any support at all.
The green paper, released on Wednesday, also repeatedly emphasises that the government is intent on ‘reinforcing work as a health outcome’ – in other words, the government believes that work will improve the health of disabled people.
Whilst in the right circumstances work can offer significant health benefits to those who are capable of it, those placed in the ESA Support Group are people who have been deemed completely unable to carry out any work or work-related activities.
However, it now seems like the government is intent on blurring the lines between those capable of work, and those who are not – a move which will undoubtedly add significant stress and worry to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
The consequences of such a move, especially for those in the Support Group who suffer from severe mental health conditions, could be potentially catastrophic. Some social media users have already expressed their utter disgust at the government’s proposals, and have outlined some of the horrifying potential ramifications for the most severely disabled.
Another Facebook user pointed out the utter absurdity in the government’s latest dehumanising plans:
Let the government know your feelings on their proposals by filling out their response form here – https://consultations.dh.gov.uk/workandhealth/consult/