There was little comfort for sick and disabled claimants from the Labour Party conference this week, as sections of shadow work and pensions secretary Liz Kendall’s speech would not have sounded out of place at last week’s Conservative conference

At both events, speakers decried the fact that two million people were currently receiving benefits as incapable of work and guaranteed that this would change.

Labour undertook to reform universal credit whilst the Conservatives promised to reform the work capability assessment.

Both promised a massive improvement in employment support.

And both asserted that work is good for more than just your financial wellbeing.

Most of all, both insisted that those who can work, must work.

Whilst many people could agree with most of those statements, the problem is that both parties have a long history of causing immense misery as they seek to distinguish those who can’t work from those who, in their view, can but won’t. 

And even more suffering as they impose penalties on the second group.

In her speech, Kendall told Labour delegates:

“Conference, Britain isn’t working. 

Over two million people shut out of the workplace because of sickness or disability, want to work.

The over 50s, especially women struggling with poor physical health and caring responsibilities.

Young people with mental health problems lacking basic qualifications, on the back foot before they’ve even begun. 

Under Labour, this will change.

Our top priority will be ensuring everyone who can work, does.

Because we believe the benefits of work go beyond a payslip.

And in the dignity and self-respect good work brings.

So we will tear down the barriers to success.

We’ll tackle the root causes of worklessness, recruiting thousands more mental health staff and overhauling skills.

So no-one is ever written off again, whatever their age.

We’ll transform employment support so it’s tailored to individual and local needs  . . .

This is our contract with the British people:  real opportunities, matched by the responsibility to take them up.” 

Kendall also told conference:

“We will reform universal credit to protect people when they need it and to genuinely make work pay. We’ll champion equality for disabled people.”

Compare Kendall’s words with speeches from last week’s Conservative conference.

The prime minister said:

“. . .our benefits system declares that more than two million people of working age are incapable of actually doing any.

it’s a tragedy for those two million people being written off.

I refuse to accept this and that is why we are going to change the rules so that those who can work, do work.”

Meanwhile, chancellor Jeremy Hunt told delegates:

“That safety net is paid from tax. And that social contract depends on fairness to those in work alongside compassion to those who are not.

That means work must pay… and we’re making sure it does.”

And work and pensions secretary, Mel Stride, explained:

“Having a job isn’t just good for your finances – it’s good for your mental and physical wellbeing too.

And it pains me to think there are so many people being left on benefits who want to work and who could be thriving in work. It’s a waste of human potential . . .

So we are reforming our sickness and disability benefit assessments for the first time in over a decade, to take account of the modern workplace.

That is going hand-in-hand with a revolution in the employment support we’re providing for people with health problems and disabilities.”

So, the message, it seems is much the same.  Perhaps the difference, if Labour gets in, will be in the delivery.

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    Graham · 3 months ago
    Here we go yet again! Fact is since Tories got in power a coalition government and now post coalition. The negatives they've done policies are absolutely abysmal.
    Disabled people and able bodied too were targeted from outset. Reform work schemes which under different names slightly but nevertheless the same types being dished out on benefits claimants are dire. Moreover they failed abysmally too. Millions and millions plus talk of billions recently to put into place these atrocious schemes are waste of money. For example one such scheme out of 100% on a scheme 93% didn't find work while others dropped out of it. Yet here we are again re a rehash after rehash of these schemes. 
    Not just disabled benefit claimants but able bodied were and are being treated with utter contempt!

    Moreover the scrounger and sponger plus work idle and general rhetoric of Tories too a rehash from when it all began with coalition government. 

    No mistake fact is more Tories have got away with the more their punitive measures of austerity are.

    Scrap universal credit now, bring in universal basic income. And don't tell me they the government can't afford it because they can. 
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    UB40 Rumrunner · 4 months ago
    Its the same delusional clap trap. "“Having a job isn’t just good for your finances – it’s good for your mental and physical wellbeing too." 

    And yet none, have a hope in hell of delivering upon that in a box packing economy. Yes, work is good for you, if only it actually did pay well! But for many in the UK,  now working part time and full-time, having to claim universal credit to top up greedy employer low wages has a significant detrimental effect on mental health. As does, being in very insecure work. They fail to see this, or choose not to? As for physical they need to take a look at what stupid hours of work people are forced into. This is the current reality. Talk is cheap. And think people are sick of it.
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    anti universal credit · 5 months ago
    Why oh why won't labour abolish universal credit. The tax credits system was vastly  superior.
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    Inglis 25 · 6 months ago
    Many people with hidden serious illnesses already get treated badly by some members of the public who demand to know why a person needs to use sticks or a wheel chair. “After all they retort you look ok to me.” If only life was that easy. I rarely go out now because I can’t cope with all the judgement. Sad that the people we rely on for help are also treating us like we are criminals. I wonder how our Doctors and Specialist feel when their diagnosis of their patients is undermined by a tick box on a computer?
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    Fred · 7 months ago
    Work isn't just about a pay cheque. Must remember that very fine remark when I tell the landlord or mortgage company when I can't pay it due to some rice grain paying job. I'm sure their agree. Wonder if I can quote Mr Strides dillusional remark . I feel those making such righteous statements should go out into the real world with health implications and see how they get on. I can see all the employers crying out to hire people who are disabled because of these political rhetoric. And Labour are exactly the same. It's the low wage, low skills economy that needs fixing. Disabled or not.
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      Inglis 25 · 6 months ago
      @Fred Part of the problem disabled people are facing is that people on poverty wages and others believe we are receiving to much in benefits, and the government play to this. When the truth is that wages have been kept low since 2008 therefore naturally wages would drop to almost the same level as benefits.For a worker to manage to pay all of their bills and to keep a roof over their head the minimum they would need to earn would be £35,000 a year.I heard a politician explain to a reporter that migrant workers should be paid the average UK wage of £44,000 per year! So that British workers earnings could rise.(I almost choked on my coffee) Sunak thinks people can survive on £11 per hour they could if they didn’t have to pay council tax rent or a mortgage. This Government doesn’t have a clue what life is like for those at the bottom.
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    psgaines · 7 months ago
    Labour will never do the big changes, labour have no backnbone fir anything other than trinket displays.
    The first thing I would stop is sanctions, it so unfair and doesn't need looking into. The rest is, well they could talk TO BENEFIT AND WORK for a real fair & true answer. Then we would have a better system fairer for most, except Tories. 😁 
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      mike · 5 months ago
      @Inglis 25 yeah but labur also support UC?
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      Inglis 25 · 5 months ago
      @psgaines God help us all, we simply can’t allow the Conservatives to remain in power. We are all doomed if we do that. Think very carefully before you decide who should become our next PM. The Conservatives have proven that they don’t care about ordinary people. They care less about the sick and disabled.There are approx 650 members of parliament with an average basic salary is£86,584 MPs also receive expenses to cover the cost of running an office, employing staff, having expenses paid to live in London and expenses paid for their home all bills are paid for.£17.8MILLION WAS SPENT ON FOOD WHILE WE GO HUNGRY. They also have their rent paid if they live in London £25,080 Outside London £17,840 own home £5,720. Caring per dependent £5,720 MPs were also paid £1 million in bonuses. This is not the full total that they receive in perks. I ask “ How can those politicians justify hounding the poor and sick and impose sanctions upon them including forcing people into work that doesn’t pay enough to cover rent and council tax?” The minimum wage should be at least £19.00 per hour to survive on and they don’t care about us.
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    Clare · 8 months ago
    It seems all about the numbers the cost and all disabilities and illnesses lumped together That is why they talk big numbers Without comparing it with other benefits for example  We are seen as an accounting issue A financial problem to be corrected by actuaries We are not seen as people Our cost  just needs to be reduced As they have decided they need to spend the money elsewhere The books need to balanced Or at least seen to balance 
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      frances · 7 months ago
      @Clare I so agree, the idea of disability descrimmination, seems to have gone out the window. I had it whilst in employment 2007, tried to work for myself whilst i could, lost that to resession, got worse physically, then couldnt work at all. I still dread a renewal date of PIP and hope at 71 its just extended as they will never increase my benefit being past retirement age i was informed i couldnt get increase of Living side as i was old and would have to get any care via adult social care! Dont ask its dven worse. But at least if my PIP continues i can just afford cleaner once a week. Eat and pay my heating! So i call myself lucky. God knows what i would do if it was transferred to UC!
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    m shirker · 8 months ago
    wasnt expecting much from labour anyway they might reduce the 5 week waiting time for universal credit and maybe get rid of 1 or 2 of the tory brutal wca changes but thats it will be more of the same 
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      mike · 5 months ago
      @m shirker
      They are actively supporting Universal credit as well and I bet the reform party will not get rid of it
      Why lump child tax credit in with UC?. We used to get family allowance until the child was 16, but if I don't happen to qualify for UC, then we won't even get that
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    Carol K · 8 months ago
    The reason I ended up on disability benefits was because work made me ill, now they're saying it's the cure. Work is a nuanced thing in my opinion. I understand the self-worth argument, but let's consider how stressful it can be, and the pressures you're under. It was in the local news the other day an Aldi worker was punched in the face by a customer stealing food. Now I know that's probably rare, but the prospect of the potential for things like that to happen in work terrify me, having to deal with unknowns, whereas life on benefits day to day is more predictable and reassuring. 
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      Lisa101 · 7 months ago
      @Carol K The DWP under IDS noted that people in work were healthier than people unable to work due to ill health. 
      The conclusion? 
      Work makes people healthy. 
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    Kri · 8 months ago
    Okay... So there is some hope. Disability News Service has reported that "Labour pledges to scrap Tory plans to tighten ‘fitness for work’ test"  - "And Stride is considering removing protective guidance which currently states that a claimant should be found eligible for the highest rate of support – with no conditions or potential sanctions – if work or work-related activity would create a substantial risk to their health.

    But Vicky Foxcroft, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, told DNS this week in Liverpool: “We won’t be following through on that. No.” Please, does Benefits & Work have any comment on this?
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    Andrew · 8 months ago
    'Make work pay' - tell that to the millions in regular full-time paid jobs who are struggling to keep a roof over their head, enough food on the table and heat their homes.
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      Inglis 25 · 6 months ago
      @Aw To many politicians are private landlords! This constitutes a conflict of interest to me, along with the politicians and those in the house of lords who own massive shares in Water Companies Energy Companies Moderna covid injections and much more. They are all raking in a fortune at our expense. Therefore there is zero incentive for the greedy ones to help us, when life is so lucrative and good for them. I strongly believe that no politician should be allowed to enter public life if they have any assets that would compromise their decision making. Little wonder then that our economy is wrecked, and it’s definitely not caused by those on benefits.
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      Lisa101 · 7 months ago
      @Aw Remember council houses? 
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      Aw · 8 months ago
      @Andrew Indeed, raising wages will do nothing but make landlords richer. Until they pair wage rises with rent controls none of their supposed improvements will help. Also when all your outgoings are essentials like rent, food and fuel which all have very high rates of inflation then a few pence extra on the UC allowance is neither here nor there.
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    Den · 8 months ago
    Both parties talk in terms of disability like its a cake topping. That it can be ignored and the person will still function well in work. My condition means I can't and likely never will. However I've worked multiple jobs at a time when things have been hard in the past. The difference for me is entirely illness based. If any or all benefit entitlement was removed for me that wouldn't allow me to work.

    I know I'm dangerous to others but am what us considered in mental illness terms 'severe but stable'. My own insight into my condition leaves me in no doubt that prison or suicide would be my only options if forced to work. It is not an unwillingness but knowledge that I am better off dead than risking hurting someone who is just unfortunate enough to be sat to my left or right. Will either party recognise that wholesale adoption of punitive means to put the ill back into work isn't always tge correct thingbtobdo dependent on the individual. All governments speak of ill people essentially as scum. Its a slippery slope indeed.
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    Pavlova · 8 months ago
    Labour will help people to get into work, unlike the Tories, Labour probably won't hound those who actually cannot work,  but provide more help and support to those who could find a suitable job and get out of the benefits trap.  Well that's what I hope will happen. I believe Starmer's mother had to give up her job in the NHS because she became very ill and could no longer work, so I can't see him demonising the disabled per se.
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    The dogmother · 8 months ago
    271 thousand homeless in England alone, what about helping them into training ,employment etc if they are capable, Decent housing too. Put your money where your mouth is and let's see what you can do for them first. Instead of the potential displacement of countless sick and disabled deemed fit for work ,lost benefits, lost homes. We all know it could happen to any one of us. 
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      T · 8 months ago
      @The dogmother More of us need to make clear to people who treat us like our drs what impact the DWP and their special companies they employ have on us.  

      My doctors and psychiatrist are fully aware of how detrimental these monsters are to my mental health and they make sure they make clear to them in support letters which really helps out. I'm lucky to have strong support from them.  But we need more people to do the same.  
            We won't recover from what our illnesses are but many of us can find a fragile stabily but to do these we need peace of mind and the ability to relax .. as you know this can't begin to happen when we have to dread the post everyday or the sound of our phones ringing and we have to continually look to the future in fear.  If these people just had some compassion and humanity the truth is so easy to see and find..  
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      The dogmother · 8 months ago
      @T @T They'd rather skirt around the 'in your face' issues than get them sorted, sure let's terrify the sick and give them a good trouncing while ignoring those lying in the streets, another Vunerable group,No healthcare,not knowing if they'll eat or not. Looks like we all might be heading that very way if these 'measures' are forced on us. 
      Disgusting. 
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      T · 8 months ago
      @The dogmother Well said! I couldn't agree more. That would be the most logical thing to do but then that would be actually doing the right thing which we know definitely goes against these rich deluded MPs.
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    Bill Kruse · 8 months ago
    Like messages coming in from some fantasy world... from both of them. Completely and utterly at odds with reality. Neither have anything remotely of genuine use to offer. What would actually work is investing in the NHS so it can mend broken people making them capable of functioning once again in a commercial environment. Both appear interested only in handing the NHS over to commercial interests and damn the wellbeing of the electorate. 
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    Sarah · 8 months ago
    Why is  there no media getting involved  with all this and not asking questions about this type of persecution we are getting? Or about to be put through. These questions should be out there 
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      Lisa101 · 7 months ago
      @Sarah Because nobody gives a 4X
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      wibblum · 8 months ago
      @Alison
      Kendall was a junior in The Department of Health at that time and was partly responsible for bringing in the smoking ban. It was careerist red tory James Purnell who was (largely) responsible for introducing the WCA, and then when he promptly jumped ship for a more lucrative career outside politics it was Yvette Cooper who took charge of it.


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      Alison · 8 months ago
      @Sarah The media have demonised us as far back as I can remember,  wasn't Liz Kendall responsible for the WCA inthe first place? Backed by TV programmes and stories about people playing golf. There are few journalists on our side.
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      T · 8 months ago
      @Sarah It's pretty clear most media don't care right now. They will be waiting for when the new true hate campaign about us begins during the next election campaign, that will get them better headlines. The sad truth is we have nobody truly on our sides who can actually help or stop what's going on, our real pain ,suffering and worries are nothing to these people.  
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    lesley · 8 months ago
    Many years ago when my disabled husband died (I was his full time carer)and I was left with my two children to look after alone.  I went along to the local job centre because I was panicked and terrified at being left with nothing to live on. I begged for a job.  The man in the local job centre took one look at me and said that I was definitely not fit to work.  He said to return to my GP and ask for a "sick note".  This was in 1992.
    The local CAB were my saviours and wrote to my GP and I was put on the "sick"  I can't even remember what it was called in those days.  I think I got income support or Widowed Mother's allowance or something.
    I would have loved to have worked but each time I tried to get a job was told that I was not fit for work.  Eventually I reached 60 and state pension age.
    I have tried to improve my life by doing all sorts of training schemes, even did a fine art degree as a mature student.  (part time over 6 years) but never managed to get a job.  Not for the want of trying.
    I am now 75 coming up to 76 still on DLA and cerainly not on the highest level. Here I stay, just getting by and even now would love to do a paid job but no-one will have me.
    So yes, the wording should be "Those who want to work............"  Not "those who are able to work............"
    I think I saved the government a fortune caring for my very sick husband all those years, so who would have looked after him and the kids if I had gone out to work? I did not get any carer's allowance I did not even know about it in those days.
    Yes it did take a tremendous toll on my health, I neglected my own health looking after someone else.  I had no respite so let's hear it for all the carers out there. Not one politician has any idea what any of it is all about.

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      Julie barrow · 7 months ago
      @lesley You are so right, those who want to work, the world is not nice out there now, I don't even like walking out my front door, it is very disheartening when they pick on the vulnerable, ive got a sister who drums in to me, we pay for the likes of you, you get it all, if that's my family who don't know what I do from one day to another, i fill what hope is there with rest of world, 
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    Steve · 8 months ago
    Does anyone really believe they would be tightening the noose even more if we were still in the EU and that is one of the real reason’s they pushed brexit through now they can reduce the standard of living continuously for the most vulnerable people in society it’s scary how fast they make changes since Covid they won’t be happy until we are just like America I bet rishi was well sick when he had to give up his green card
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      mike · 5 months ago
      @Steve But labour are anti brexit and they also support UC, don't conflate the 2 issues.
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    frmarcus · 8 months ago
    What Lab should be doing is undertaking to improve the absurdly low rates of income-replacement benefit - even if they aspire to fewer claimants.  
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    colcs · 8 months ago
    I have worked for over forty years but due to my health issues the dwp assessed me in 2020 and i was placed in the LCWRA so i then left my employment .
    I am in my late fifties and living on benefits is no joke .
    Our current government in power will always come after the people on the benefits system.
    This is not about looking at getting people back into work and giving them the support they need 
    this is about taking them out of the support group and then they have not got to pay them the extra pittance they give us in the LCWRA.
    Regarding labour if they win the next election and i have always been a labour supporter they will be no different under keir starmer .
    Like one of your subscribers have stated have any of these politicians ever filled in a esa 50 or a pip form and gone through the degrading process that you have to go through - i doubt it very much .
    They need to live in our world as they have not got a clue.
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