Doing your Duty, Sanctions for Disabled People

The latest government attack on people with disabilities was announced this week. Despite the froth of presenting Rish Sunak as a ‘centrist’ the proposals are incredible.

People with mobility and mental health problems will be asked to work from home or lose benefits as part of what a UK government minister described today as doing “their duty”.

Rishi Sunak will lay out the plans in the Autumn statement. Laura Trott, chief secretary to the Treasury, told Sky News: “Of course there should be support for people to help them into work but ultimately there is a duty on citizens if they are able to go out to work they should. Those who can work and contribute should contribute.”

She added: “It’s saying we’re going to put the right mechanisms around you to help you with that. But ultimately, you have to engage with that, and that is an obligation on you as a citizen to do this. And if you don’t do this, we will look at sanctions.”

Hundreds of thousands of people are going to be told to look for work that they can do from home or face having their benefits cut by £4,680 a year.

While the policies of creating a punitive welfare system have been in place for years the language is getting more aggressive. The Independent reported: “Jeremy Hunt is set to unveil a crackdown on benefits claimants in tomorrow’s autumn statement that campaigners say risks punishing disabled people.”

Under the softening language of ‘working from home’ the underlying message is coercive talking about ‘crackdown’s and ‘doing your duty’.

As disability and care campaigner Dan White has responded: “Under the new benefits shake-up, claimants could have bank accounts checked every month by the DWP to make sure they’re not “lying” about saving. Disabled people & carers ARE the hardest hit by the #CostOfLivingCrisis Not heating homes, skipping meals etc What bloody savings?”

Lucy Webster is a journalist and the author of The View From Down Here: Life as a Young Disabled Woman has written:

“Once again, the Tories have delivered a budget that punches down. The chancellor tried to dress up his attack on disabled people as a generous offering of “opportunity,” but make no mistake: the aim is simply to take away vital, lifesaving benefits.”

“While the repeated threat of a real-terms cut to personal independence payment (Pip) and other benefits mercifully hasn’t materialised (yet), many of the most disabled people in the country will now fear an even worse outcome: a total withdrawal of their out-of-work benefits when, inevitably, they can’t find work within the new, arbitrary 18-month limit. Already, many of these people are going hungry, cold or without essential medical equipment. Some will die, not from their conditions but from enforced poverty.”

She continues: “People who are so sick or disabled that they can’t work are not the enemy. They’re not the ones who made your weekly shop unaffordable. The Tories are. Lives depend on remembering where the blame truly lies.”

A petition to resist the process has been set up calling to ‘Scrap the cruel welfare cut plans’:

“Reports say the Government is planning a change to benefits that would force hundreds of thousands of people to find work despite suffering from a range of physical and mental health conditions, and waiting for operations and other treatment.

This might not affect you right now, but any of us could fall ill at any time – and with the current NHS crisis this may mean having to wait months for treatment. These changes could force us to work no matter how unwell we are.

The good news is that these plans aren’t set in stone, which means we have a chance to stop them. If enough of us sign this petition it could convince the Government to do the right thing and scrap these plans for good.”

You can sign it here.




Comments (8)

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  1. SteveH says:

    This is a more nuanced argument than you portray. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t trust the Tories any more than you do

    But neither do I trust the current welfare state mindset beloved of the left.

    Over time we have created a culture of benefits dependency which has masked the needs of the truly disadvantaged.

    I know people who routinely abuse the system. I know people who just need a little help when unforeseen troubles undermine them.

    I’m also aware of the wives in some minority communities are permanently not working and supplemented by benefits. Their dominating husbands prefer to keep control over them. It’s a part of their culture. The benefits system directly supports domestic abuse and misogynist behaviour

    To reduce the benefits drain, we start with helping those in the poverty trap by allowing them to work up to £20k without paying any income tax. We help working mothers with better child care arrangements. This is a centre-right policy, replacing a far-left one, or useless Tory one.

    Then we tackle the benefit dependents by carefully sifting out those who do not have real ailments, and those with mental illness, putting the latter on a care path that makes sense, focusing on the real needy.

    Homeless people should be assisted into decent accommodation on a pathway back to self esteem and self reliance, filtering out the mentally ill, and compelling those with a drug issue to accept treatment or be subject to legal sanctions.

    We have seen in places like California and Portland, Oregon that the homeless and drug addict population is increasing dramatically, and costing many of them their lives, costing the state unsustainable sums, burdening the tax payers. This is the triumph of left wing ideology over intelligent government. Try reading “San Fransicko” by Michael Shellenberger.

    Suspend your beliefs for a moment and open your eyes people.

    In today’s graduate elite run society – including the left-leaning heads of the civil service, the public and charitable institutions and corporates – as well ad useless politicians at Westminster, Wales, N.Ireland and of course Scotland, we have a truly dysfunctional society.

    Common-sense ideas are labelled far-right. Sure, the Tories are a mixture of the incompetent, the self-serving, but so are Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Greens, Libs, Sin Fein, DUP.

    Suspend your beliefs for a moment and open your eyes people.

    1. Doctor McGrail says:

      You talk about ideas being ‘common sense’, then ask others to open their eyes whilst suspending their beliefs. But how do you know that you have a superior knowledge to others, that your eyes are open, and that you haven’t got beliefs on which your points are based? Your position falls into the very trap of being a ‘graduate elite’ – knowing better than others. The problem with the welfare state is that it has typically involved one set of people ‘managing’ it who are divorced (by a social division of labour) from the people who are ‘managed’ by them (or ‘it’ – the welfare state). The left/right ‘framework’ simply doesn’t work nor make sense. It is divisive and therefore works against ‘common sense’.

      The English tradition of ‘common sense’ uses the term to meaning the ‘lowest common denominator’ or what someone ‘has to’ think (believe) from ‘simple’ observation – that which ‘just makes sense’. The Scottish tradition uses the term ‘common sense’ in a different manner – it means ‘taking all senses / perspectives into account’. Thus, in terms of our bodies we have five senses and common sense would mean making use of all those five senses. In community terms it means listening to every possible position (not necessarily in a proportional ‘balanced’ manner – if the 99 majority are saying ‘X’ then the 1 person minority saying ‘Y’ is the alternate perspective which needs to be heard.

      The issue here is ‘who’ is not being listened to? Left and right politicians will ‘blah, blah, blah’ each other, but what about talking to people who are ‘on’ benefits – those who need them? How will the ‘tune’ change if the community find a large proportion of the homeless are ex-service personnel? How much more difficult is it for a deaf person to ‘work from home’? I don’t know the answer to the latter – I need someone in that position to tell me.

      Meanwhile, the politicians coming up with the ‘reforms’ are not interested in people ‘on’ benefits, they are interested in saving their own arses!

      1. John says:

        Any intelligent analysis of people who use terms like common sense in a political perspective leads you to conclude they are talking evidently free nonsense.
        Steve H is a frequent poster on here spouting his alt- right’s theories who has a hatred for graduates.
        His dislike for all politicians of all democratic parties is standard stuff for people advocating dictatorship of some form.

    2. James Mills says:

      Phew ! Took a while but SteveH managed to get in the obligatory ” Graduate elite ” smear . Thought for a moment he had forgotten to attack his usual bete noir – but he is nothing if not predictable .

      1. Drew Anderson says:

        Every time I read one of his swipes at the “graduate elite”™, I’m given to wondering if he picked on the bright kids at school?

  2. David Mapley says:

    How about the well off, the rich actually doing their duty and paying their taxes without milking the system and expecting the vulnerable to finance them.

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @David Mapley, indeed, are the idle rich to be corralled into working on collective farms, forced into sweatshops, chained together on cross-channel galleys?

      The other nagging question concerns the relationship between useful work and duty; the likelihood is that people will be forced into bullshit jobs that only make lives poorer, such as cold-call sales.

      One might have thought that paying one’s taxes was an important civic duty that that Conservatives might take an interest in, but unsurprisingly their idea of a social contract is that little people pay taxes while the elite (including those in Sunak’s own government) shirk that particular duty.

      What examples are our supposed betters setting, anyway?

  3. Wul says:

    This Tory approach to people with a disability has echos of the Nazi’s “Useless Mouths” agenda.

    With the amount of unclaimed benefits each year exceeding the amount of benefit fraud (a tiny percentage of the budget) this “issue” is of zero consequence in the scheme of managing our country.

    Yet another straw-man for the Tories to display their performative cruelty and distract from their own ceaseless, multi-billion pound grift, theft and parasitic wealth-extraction.

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