Stephen Crabb, the new secretary of state for work and pensions has already proved himself clueless about how employment and support allowance (ESA) works.
Last week, before Crabb replaced IDS, his constituency office was graffitied with the words 'Why do you hate the sick’ after he voted in favour of cuts to ESA.
In a Facebook post responding to the vandalism, Crabb wrote:
“Any disabled person who is unable to work due to ill health or disability is in the Support Group of ESA. They are wholly unaffected by the change, as only those who are fit to work and actively seeking work are included in the Work Related Activity Group.”
The reality, as most Benefits and Work readers could have told Crabb, is that claimants in the work-related activity group (WRAG) have been found to have limited capability for work. If they had been found “fit to work” they would have been refused ESA entirely and have been forced to apply for JSA.
Limited capability for work means that the claimant may be able to undertake some limited training or work and may one day be able to take up full- time work.
But in many cases WRAG claimants will have degenerative conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, and they will never be fit for work again. It’s just that their condition is not yet severe enough to meet the strict criteria for the support group.
The fact that Crabb happily voted for cuts on the basis of his profound ignorance of how ESA actually works is concerning enough.
That he is now in charge of the entire benefits system is terrifying.