Forced Labour

Forced Labour When Labour brought in Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) they promised disabled people a safe and secure place from which to try and get work how ever difficult this might be to achieve. Sanctions and compulsion have destroyed this promise and left disabled people in a stressful and threatening environment. Stress usually makes disability harder to handle. These threats should be removed from the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG). The introduction of the concept of workfare in to the work program is a massive change in the philosophy of the welfare state. The concept is being fought hard through the courts and despite the recent court decision on the Poundland Case the government are determined to press ahead. Now it seems that Labour may be supporting them in this. The concept of sanctions and workfare are particularly terrifying for disabled people who may always be uncertain about what they can do. These forced and sanctioned activities have made the WRAG a feared and threatening place. Sanctions and compulsion are completely inappropriate when people have disability. Anything disabled people fail to do may always be due to their disability. The license to remove benefits given to an advisor who has never walked in their shoes is cruel. In fact the statistics now show that not many disabled people are actually getting in to work. But what is certain is that after twelve months in the WRAG they will be means tested and 40% will lose ESA altogether. Surely even in these dark times extending workfare to people with disability is several steps too far. Labour promised disabled people a safe and secure...

Taking the fear out of ESA

Disabled people are currently being migrated from Incapacity Benefit to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). This is causing immense anxiety and distress and this should not be the case. ESA needs reform to take this fear away and we will all know when ESA becomes fit for purpose because disabled people will be happy to be allocated to the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) and the appeals will melt away.   The source of most of the anxiety is currently located in the fear of being allocated to the (WRAG). Unfortunately the supportive environment which was envisaged for the WRAG that would have provided a safe place for disabled people to consider how they might return to work has not materialised. Instead the WRAG is a coercive environment where disabled people live under the threat of sanctions while they are in the WRAG and means testing and perhaps losing ESA after a year. This is a daunting prospect for them given that currently almost no disabled people are moving from the work program in to work.   If the WRAG could be returned to a safe, supportive group where disabled people were not in fear of sanctions and means testing – then they could relax and regain control of their own lives and find better solutions to getting work or meaningful activity.   Making the WRAG safe would also have the added effect of taking the fear out of the WRAG and encouraging people in the Support Group to think about taking up activity. At the moment fear of being moved to the WRAG inhibits this for many people....