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The BBC has obtained documents showing that ministers are considering reducing payment for new claimants in the work-related activity group (WRAG) of employment and support allowance (ESA) to just 50p above the level of jobseeker’s allowance (JSA).

The coalition is currently struggling with the fact that the number of people in receipt of ESA has risen for every one of the last four quarters. The rise has been caused by a massive backlog in assessments, meaning that claimants who get placed on ESA are very unlikely to have their eligibility regularly checked. The risk for the government is that the rising cost of ESA may cause the next administration to go over the benefits cap.

Removing the work-related activity component for new claimants would effectively turn ESA, other than the support group, into JSA with slightly less harsh job seeking conditions.

This would not only cut the benefits bill, it would also give claimants less incentive to appeal if they were turned down for ESA and were not expecting to get into the support group.

From there it would be a short step to abolishing the WRAG altogether, leaving ESA as a benefit only for people not expected to return to paid employment again in the future. This would massively cut the cost of assessing claimants for ESA and end the problem of assessment backlogs.

The DWP have denied cutting WRAG payments is official government policy, but that does not mean that it is not being seriously considered and that it will not become official Conservative party policy either before or after the next general election.

Read the full story on the BBC website.

Comments  

+3 #17 Paul Richards 2014-11-04 23:07
Derek Pearson,
With all due respect to yourself, sam90 is more than right in the comments which he has made.
I now strongly suggest that you read the past pages and pages of 'News' on this website and also the countless comments about them. The good people who place their comments, have for the most part had some, or a lot of experience of what this Government has and is relentlessly continuing to do to them, in the name of their 'flagship' Welfare Reform policies.
You will not come across very much truth regarding all of this elsewhere as our 'Media', especially the Newspapers and Sky/BBC is largely 'right-wing' controlled - this results largely in very biased reporting - always trying to tell the general public that 'all' of their policies - especially Welfare Reform are going very well to plan.
This is totally untrue - they are spending out more on this than what they are saving - the public is not being told - countless millions of taxpayers money (and probably including your's also!)
are being thrown the pan. Ian Duncan Smith, the Minister in charge of this, knows that this disaster is happening, but he still seems to hold his job & have Government support for doing it.
This basically unelected Tory Coalition Government (with no help for the sick/disabled/u nderpriveledged /poor/unemploye d either from their lapdogs, - the Liberal Democrats) has, almost from day one had it in for (almost a hatred) the groups as described above.
I would go farther than this - actually what is being done really amounts to 'state discrimination' and in other EU countries, it would probably not be allowed. However, due to lies and spin, it goes on.
You may think that Labour was bad when they were in power - but I can assure you that this lot are even worse.
+4 #16 sam90 2014-11-02 22:48
Quoting Derek Pearson:
I cannot believe the anti-Tory bent being shown here. It was after all the Blair-Brown-Balls-Millibands who started this fiasco off after having raided our pension pots and introduced 999 backdoor taxes.

Perhaps the 'anti-Tory bent being shown here' has got something to do with the Tory-led victimisation and demonisation of people on benefits.
-9 #15 hartlepool1945 2014-11-02 14:27
I cannot believe the anti-Tory bent being shown here. It was after all the Blair-Brown-Bal ls-Millibands who started this fiasco off after having raided our pension pots and introduced 999 backdoor taxes.
+3 #14 Drizzle 2014-11-01 16:02
Quote:
I wish I could believe that everything will be all right for us come a Labour victory. Labour would face the same pressures and it is wishful thinking to expect that us disabled will be seen as upstanding contributors to society.
There's no guarantee that everything will be all right for us whoever wins the election. However, you can absolutely guarantee that life will get a lot worse for us if the Tories (or a Tory/UKIP coalition) are elected.

We must keep the Tories and right-wing UKIP out at all costs, even if it means tactically voting for a party you have little faith in. Please vote and encourage others to do so.
+5 #13 David 2014-10-31 14:39
I wish I could believe that everything will be all right for us come a Labour victory. Labour would face the same pressures and it is wishful thinking to expect that us disabled will be seen as upstanding contributors to society.
+4 #12 tintack 2014-10-31 11:29
Quoting Paul Richards:
This apart - I agree with all on here - we need to get rid of the Tories and also do not have any hank with UKIP (after all, they are Tories in sheep's clothes - otherwise, why would the ex- tory M.P.'s Carswell and Reckless defect to them!). Many British people are dumb and stupid - they cannot see that they are really Tories (at their ultimate peril!) - they think that an angel on a horse in the form of UKIP are going to rescue them - I DON'T THINK SO!!)
And, Labour, grow up - get rid of Miliband - get a new and much better leader who connects with 'real' people, - not just the middle and upper middle classes. They should be real Labour and not just Tories in Labour clothes, which they are at the moment.
My wife said to me the other day - Paul, I don't like the idea of people being split into all these different classes. I said - well, I don't particularly like it either, but, nevertheless, it does definitely exist, especially in our Country (British Isles). The high classes look down on the upper middle classes & they look down upon the middle classes & they look down upon the lower classes (i.e. the working classes - (such as the low paid, the part time workers and the zero hour contract workers) and they in turn look down on everyone else - the unemployed, the sick and the disabled also!
(i.e : everyone who has no work or is too sick or disabled to work)


Yep. That old "I know my place" sketch with John Cleese and the Two Ronnies is as true today as it was then. We haven't made much progress as a country, have we?
+7 #11 tintack 2014-10-31 00:10
When they say it's not government policy, what they mean is it's not government policy....yet. But if the Tories win in May, you can bet it will be. There were reports some months ago about IDS wanting to get rid of the WRAG, now we know how it will be done if they get their way: it won't be abolished in theory, just in practice. It is ESSENTIAL that these sociopaths are booted out in May. I hope that all sick and disabled people vote for whoever has the best chance of beating the Tories in their constituency, unless it's UKIP of course.
+2 #10 Paul Richards 2014-10-30 21:41
Hi all,
This is a 'saving money' option by DWP. They know that the ESA system is not 'working' to bring down the numbers of the genuinely sick and disabled and to knock them off of their deserved benefits. If they can get rid of the 'WRAG' part of ESA, they can put these unfortunates back into JSA to do their 'jobsearch' (and save money). They can also save by not having to put people through the stupid 'computer points' system.
I forecast that 'Incapacity Benefit' will now be transformed into the 'ESA Support Group'

This apart - I agree with all on here - we need to get rid of the Tories and also do not have any hank with UKIP (after all, they are Tories in sheep's clothes - otherwise, why would the ex- tory M.P.'s Carswell and Reckless defect to them!). Many British people are dumb and stupid - they cannot see that they are really Tories (at their ultimate peril!) - they think that an angel on a horse in the form of UKIP are going to rescue them - I DON'T THINK SO!!)
And, Labour, grow up - get rid of Miliband - get a new and much better leader who connects with 'real' people, - not just the middle and upper middle classes. They should be real Labour and not just Tories in Labour clothes, which they are at the moment.
My wife said to me the other day - Paul, I don't like the idea of people being split into all these different classes. I said - well, I don't particularly like it either, but, nevertheless, it does definitely exist, especially in our Country (British Isles). The high classes look down on the upper middle classes & they look down upon the middle classes & they look down upon the lower classes (i.e. the working classes - (such as the low paid, the part time workers and the zero hour contract workers) and they in turn look down on everyone else - the unemployed, the sick and the disabled also!
(i.e : everyone who has no work or is too sick or disabled to work)
+3 #9 David Mackinder 2014-10-30 20:03
Maybe I'm being overly cynical this evening, but I think you're probably correct to see this as a clue to a strategic redefinition. At a stroke, it would cut through some of the DWP's problems and save money, albeit at the expense of already disadvantaged and marginalised people/citizens . I wonder if the 'nudge unit' is behind this?
+6 #8 Just Me 2014-10-30 18:49
Out of all the proposed Tory 'reforms' that have been reported on this site down the years, this imo is the most devastating and cruel. The impact it will have on the sick and disabled will be devastating and I don't know how a so called civilized society can sanction it.

If people out there don't wake up and try and fight back this WILL be brought in after the next election and more deaths and misery will follow.
+3 #7 sfros46 2014-10-30 17:22
If I remember correctly it was under a Labour Goverment that these welfare reforms were introduced.
+1 #6 micksville 2014-10-30 16:15
I remember Cameron saying about w or 3 years ago that he thought esa wrag ought to be the same as jsa so this comes ax little surprise.
+6 #5 sam90 2014-10-30 15:50
And the worst case scenario is the increasing likelihood of a UKIP/Tory coalition after the next election. It will become like a mass extermination of the poor and disabled. Please vote Labour in 2015 - don't say that 'They're all the same' because they are not. Another 5 years of IDS and it'll be benefit payment cards for all claimants, bank account scrutinisation and worse...
+7 #4 Carolyn 2014-10-30 11:24
This story went onto the BBC site at just after midnight.

I've been watching News 24 since just before 9.30 this morning and it's had just a couple of airings as a featured item.

It was a bit brief, but the guest did manage to point out that the government has routinely fostered the negative view of the sick and disabled as scroungers and spongers.

You do have to wonder whether this 'leaked document' was deliberately sneaked out by the government to judge the public response to see what they can get away with.

Given how negative the general attitude to the sick and disabled has become, I suspect we may see this policy coming into force fairly soon if the Tories (probably with UKIP backing) get in at the next election.

Finally, it looks like the BBC only have one picture of disabled people - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-29821696 and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-29815425
+5 #3 micksville 2014-10-30 10:30
I am in the support group so hopefully this wouldnt affect me but one thing stands out and thats the phrase "new claimants" Is it safe to therefore assume that current wrag group claimants would, if re assessed of course, remain on current payment levels if they pass the re assesment and remain in wrag group? That of course if this becomes policy and isnt just another of IDS' wet dreams
+5 #2 stuart52 2014-10-30 09:49
i am not at all surprised by this, it was always going to happen, in fact i seem to remember reading either last year or 2 years ago IDS wanted ESA as a whole scrapped, what more can they do to us? its appauling it really is the way the sick/disabled are now treated, i dread to think what the next few years will be like, i just wonder if they will re-invoke the poor laws from years ago to make it a crime to be poor, or even a modern day version of the old poor houses/workhous es....far fetched?..i am not so sure.
+8 #1 shimtoan 2014-10-30 09:30
Labour MP Dame Anne Begg is against the cut. She says (as quoted in the BBC article) "That's not reform, that is just saving money. I hope that is not something the government is going to come forward with."

This is another reason we need the Tories out, as Labour look most likely to keep the welfare system as fair as it can be

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