The Blue Blog – Our welfare reforms will make work pay

We’re challenging entries in the Conservatives “Blue Blog”; a self-congratulatory arena where MPs get to tell us what they’re doing and how wonderfully they are doing it.

Title: Our welfare reforms will make work pay
Iain Duncan Smith
Date: Friday, February 18th, 2011

Our Reply:

Hopefully the deafening sound of back-slapping will die down soon and when the dust clears perhaps people will realise exactly what is happening and see through the hype.

Of course, getting people off benefits is the right thing to do and while there is a segment of society that has grown to feel that the benefits system is a career choice rather than a stop gap the vast majority of people on benefits see it as degrading but a necessary evil in order to survive.

In doing the “right thing” the government is taking too many steps to “demonise” those caught up in the process without any regard for the realities of day to day life.

There is no allowance in the system to deal with those who are not career benefit scroungers or cheats – everyone is tarred with the same brush and that is not right.

Your jobcentres work on the assumption that the person opposite them is an undesirable and should be punished in some way. Welfare reform is about changing the system not punishing those who have been caught up in the system; why should an individual (or family) be punished for taking advantage of a system put into place by successive governments; where is the government responsibility for implementing the system in the first place.

We hear about money lost due to benefits cheats and errors and you announce changes that will stop waste (very laudable) but nowhere do we see how the government will stop its own overspending and waste. A computer system that cost the tax payer £730,000,000 that is obsolete upon delivery and never switched on is but one example of this waste.

Anyone on the coal face of society (advocates, advisors and users) will relate their own experiences in dealing with the government and perhaps the DWP in particular where incompetence is rife and what should be a simple task is avoidably delayed due to lack of training or by a “couldn’t care less” attitude that many of us have come to expect when dealing with officials in and around the benefits system.

Of particular concern is the lumping in of the disabled into the process of demonising benefits cheats. While the government is paying £millions to foreign companies with no medical knowledge to carry out medical assessments within the framework of “meeting targets” it is sad that many vulnerable people are being not only left high and dry but also being prosecuted for supposed infractions of rules contained with volumes of rulebooks which you yourself consider onerous.

As long term advocates for disabled people, we see an entirely different picture than that painted by the media and your spin doctors. We see 8 or 10 figure bonuses going to bank employees while young children sleep on the bare springs of a bed because a mother is too poor to provide for the child and tries to hold on to the shred of dignity that remains to her.

The DWP supports Remploy to the tune of £111 million a year yet it loses £2.2million of tax payer’s money every week; has flaunted your request and allocated yet another round of multi-million pound bonuses while at the same time putting disabled people out of work. Charities and non-profit organisations supporting disabled people into work are closing down due to a lack of support so you’ll forgive us for not applauding too loudly.

Welfare reform is necessary and welcome; demonization of the most vulnerable in society is not a necessary or welcome part of that process – please keep this in mind.

You’re quoted as being “brave” on this blog but it will be a real test of your mettle if the moderators actually publish this entry.


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