+ ESA is a Confidence Trick
ESA is flawed. There are two groups and they are not fit for purpose. Neither of the groups actually fits disabled people. Most disabled people fall squarely between the two groups. Professor Harrington is doomed like Sisyphus to forever attempt an impossible task. Nothing he can do to the descriptors can change the flaw in the design of the groups.
Here’s a thumbnail of a person with disability. They have hope. They would like to work. Realistically they know this probably isn’t going to be easy or perhaps even possible.
The government have set a trap for people like this and so far it is working like a dream. Sheffield Hallam statisticians say that under the new Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) 600,000 genuinely disabled people will fall in to a black hole and lose their benefits. Disabled people – amongst the poorest and most vulnerable in the country – will have their money taken to pay for the deficit created by others.
The trap is laid with thumbnails. Disability comes in so many forms and degrees that people are forced to resort to quick thumbnail sketches in debates. So the trick is to start with one thumbnail and then deftly slip to another without any one noticing the switch. That is called a confidence trick.
The main ESA group is the work related activity group (WRAG) and it is a trick. The thumbnail for the WRAG is a person not able to work but able to manage some back to work activity. But once you are in the WRAG just watch that thumbnail slip. You are now subjected to compulsory interviews and work activity under threat of sanctions and loss of benefit. And then the thumbnail slips again and a time limit comes in. The thumb nail is now a worker who is definitely on their way to work and the clock has started ticking until your benefit will stop. How did the thumbnail slip from a person who is unable to work to a person who will work. No medical miracle has occurred. You still have a permanent or deteriorating condition. It’s a trick.
While the trick is working this well it can be extended to DLA/PIP/UC – all future disability benefits.
Of course the favourite thumbnail is the fit, feckless scrounger pretending to have a bad back while refereeing football matches – boo hiss – the audience wakes up and remembers why they don’t care about disability. The Minister then slips this thumbnail to Incapacity Benefit claimants who he says have been claiming for years. Long term illnesses are like that – they go on for years – that’s why they are called long term. Let’s have a real thumbnail of a person with a long term degenerative condition.
Time to show compassion. The next thumbnail is the poor person so ill – ‘they will never work again’. This was originally set under ESA at 10% but they have had to increase it because of the absurdity of the level of successful appeals. This is the Support Group where people are not expected to work. This sounds fine but for many people it is actually not a good place to be. Safe but no hope. No young person should be there. But given the alternative of the WRAG people will continue to try and get in to the Support Groups because safety will win out over hope.
ESA is flawed. The two groups are not fit for purpose. Neither of the groups actually fits disabled people. Professor Harrington is doomed like Sisyphus to forever attempt an impossible task. Nothing he can do to the descriptors can change the flaw in the design of the groups.
Here’s a real thumbnail of a person with disability. They have hope. They would like to work. Realistically they know this probably isn’t going to be easy or perhaps even possible.
Please stick to the real thumbnail and design a group for real disabled people.