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 environment to look for work. It is time for second thoughts and time to lift this coercion on disabled people in the WRAG.