Prime minister Rishi Sunak appeared to blame claimants for high taxes and high migration numbers as he set out his five point plan for welfare reform in a speech given yesterday at the right-wing think tank, the Centre for Social justice, founded by Iain Duncan-Smith.

The five welfare reforms the Conservatives will introduce if they win the election are:

  • the WCA will be made harder to pass;
  • GPs will no longer issue fit notes;
  • legacy benefits claimants will move to UC sooner and work requirements will be increased;
  • PIP will no longer always be a cash benefit and fewer people will be eligible;
  • DWP to be given powers to seize goods, arrest claimants and impose fines.

Irresponsible burden

In his speech, Sunak claimed that there 850,000 more economically active people in the UK since the pandemic, due to long-term sickness.

He argued that the country “can’t afford such a spiralling increase in the welfare bill and the irresponsible burden that would place on this and future generations of taxpayers.”

 As well as increasing taxes, the rising number of claimants is to blame for high migration numbers according the prime minister:

“We can’t lose so many people from our workforce whose contributions could help to drive growth.  And there’s no sustainable way to achieve our goal of bringing down migration levels, which are just too high without giving more of our own people the skills, incentives, and support, to get off welfare and back into work.”

Sunak went on to set out five welfare reforms the Conservatives intend to introduce in the even that they win the next election.

Reform 1:  the WCA will be made harder to pass

Sunak argued that in 2011, only 20% of those assessed under the work capability assessment (WCA) were found to be unfit for work.  But the figure now is 65%.

“That’s wrong. People are not three times sicker than they were a decade ago.” Sunak argued.

The solution is to make it harder to pass the WCA, something the government is already drawing up plans to do.

“So we are going to tighten up the Work Capability Assessment such that hundreds of thousands of benefit recipients with less severe conditions will now be expected to engage in the world of work – and be supported to do so.”

Reform 2:  GPs will no longer issue fit notes

The Conservative’s attempts to replace the sick note with the fit note, which says what work you can still do with support, has been an abject failure.

94% of fit notes still sign people off completely.

So, now the Conservatives plan to stop GPs issuing fit notes altogether and give the job to people who may not even be medically qualified:

“So we’re also going to test shifting the responsibility for assessment from GPs and giving it to specialist work and health professionals who have the dedicated time to provide an objective assessment of someone’s ability to work and the tailored support they need to do so.”

A consultation on reforming the fit note process was launched yesterday and will run until 8 July 2024.

Reform 3: legacy benefits claimants will move to UC sooner and work requirements will be increased

Sunak announced that “we’ll accelerate moving people from legacy benefits onto Universal Credit, to give them more access to the world of work.”

The DWP have since used X (formerly Twitter) to reveal that

“The Prime Minister’s welfare reform speech earlier today announced the acceleration of the Managed Migration of legacy ESA/ESA & HB cases to #UniversalCredit. All migration notices will now be sent by the end of December 2025. We will work with stakeholders on the detailed plans.”

The rules around UC and work should also be tightened according to Sunak.

Instead of nine hours, “Anyone working less than half a full-time week will now have to try and find extra work in return for claiming benefits.” 

In addition, “Anyone who doesn’t comply with the conditions set by their Work Coach such as accepting an available job will, after 12 months, have their claim closed and their benefits removed entirely.”

Reform 4: PIP will no longer always be a cash benefit and fewer people will be eligible

Sunak claims that spending on PIP will increase by 50% over the next four years unless the rules are changed.

He argues that whilst some people need money for aids such as handrails or stairlifts “Often they’re already available at low cost, or free from the NHS or Local Authorities.  And they’re one-off costs so it probably isn’t right that we’re paying an ongoing amount every year.” 

In addition, claimants with mental health conditions are to be targeted because “for all the challenges they face it is not clear they have the same degree of increased living costs as those with physical conditions.”

In fact, Sunak wonders if these claimants should be given money at all:

“And we’ll also consider whether some people with mental health conditions should get PIP in the same way through cash transfers or whether they’d be better supported to lead happier, healthier and more independent lives through access to treatment like talking therapies or respite care.”

Sunak announced that a consultation will be launched in the next few days to decide how to stop the PIP assessment system being “undermined by the way people are asked to make subjective and unverifiable claims about their capability.”

The government wants to see more medical evidence required to substantiate a claim and “a more objective and rigorous approach that focuses support on those with the greatest needs and extra costs” with a limit on “the type and severity of mental health conditions that should be eligible for PIP.”

Reform 5:  DWP to be given powers to seize goods, arrest claimants and impose fines

Sunak announced that the Conservatives are preparing “a new Fraud Bill for the next Parliament which will align DWP with HMRC so we treat benefit fraud like tax fraud with new powers to make seizures and arrests. And we’ll also enable penalties to be applied to a wider set of fraudsters through a new civil penalty.”

In other words, the DWP will be able to search claimants homes, seize possessions such as computers and mobile phones, arrest claimants and impose fines.

The plan to give the DWP police powers is something we have been warning about for some time.

Will any of this ever happen?

These plans are largely based on the Conservatives winning the next election.  There is no indication that any of them will be supported by Labour if they win.

Of them all, the one most likely to come about whatever the election result is the earlier date for moving income-based ESA claimants to UC.  The move was delayed by the government until 2028/29 in a bid to save money and the pause was never popular with the DWP, who would prefer to complete the process in one go.

There is a real possibility that whichever party is in power next, they will decide that yet another change of date will cause too much confusion.

For the rest of the reforms, the best we can say is that when it comes to voting, claimants now have  a clear picture of what the Conservatives have planned for them - even if Labour’s intentions are still unclear.

You can read the full text of Sunak’s speech here.

You can read more about the PIP changes and find out how to take part in the consultation here.

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    DC · 1 days ago
    I am a victim, military father inflicted war ptsd handed down, also unsocial family does not help.  Had 97 jobs from 1980 -2004 when then diag. & written off.  Told no mental health support, after all these years they can f*** off.  No partners/kids but struggled through anyway to 59 yrs. Hate this country - don't care about anything but money & would use that to fund ongoing wars.
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    Canvey girl · 1 days ago
    Having been made redundant after a mental breakdown and repeated attempts in my life as I haven’t been able to cope with the stress and cost of living post divorce the thought of getting the money I am getting to live in is leaving me once again suicidal, I’m already penalised for bedroom tax when there’s a shortage of smaller privately rented accommodation, I’ve looked for work, having worked in the city my whole career and it’s the worst and toughest job market in 20 years. I have lost the will to go on, it feels like total discrimination at national level, and no end to this hell. I hate living here, I ashamed to be British right now. What are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to get back in our feet, it’s their fault that mental health is so bad here, you can’t even get help, waiting lists a year long. Why are we not standing up to these entitled idiots
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    Cheekyankles · 4 days ago
    What I don't like is the awful MP rhetoric like "being on Benefits is a lifestyle choice" long term disability and illness is not a choice Mr Sunak, Mr Stride  but I suppose those words coming from a multi millionaire Tory MPs are not surprising, not having to worry where the next penny is coming from! I have helped a couple of friends move to Universal Credit, and it wasn't as painful I thought it was going to be, you just need to prepare to prove who you are while you claim online this can save a trip to the Jobcentre in person, if you were in the WRAG in ESA you'll be transferred to the same group in UC, likewise for the Support Group in ESA you'll transfer to the same group in UC, for WRAG the conditionality is a bit more tougher and more appointments with a Work Coach will be required, work conditionality is subject to awful drastic changes if the Tory's win the next election in 2025, but it's still uncertain what Labour are going to do with the welfare state if they win the next election. You must remember being severely ill or disabled and living off benefits is a life style choice according Mr Sunak, so it's your fault your are disabled...I literally have no kind words to say about Sunak or Stride, what they feel about me, is how I feel about them! My vote is certainly not going in their direction.
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    sarah · 4 days ago
    This is worrying i have seizures weekly i have carers twice a day and surport works 3 times a week so i can do my shopping i can't stand for long due to my back 
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    M shirker · 7 days ago
    After reading this it fills me with fear and dread so the time has finally arrived why couldn’t it of stayed at 2028 hopefully I’m back of the list I am really not looking forward to this cruel heartless shambles of a system better start saving up now because no doubt I will be left with weeks of no money to live off 
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    Sandra Bowes-Rennox · 9 days ago
    Haven't they killed enough people or isn't the body count high enough..There going.
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    Teresa Holgate · 9 days ago
    I am a veteran and served my country proudly now I’m disabled and I have complex PTSD and the country-government I served are treating myself and others like me as criminals deadbeats and scroungers. I didn’t ask for my disability I would much prefer to be without it. Why shall I be put through this worry? It’s disgusting. The conservative government have ruined this country and now they choose to start a war on the sick and the disabled. They should be ashamed of themselves and kicked out of Downing Street as soon as humanly possible.
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    Sandra Bowes-Rennox · 9 days ago
    Absolutely scandalous..They get it wrong and can't get it right so penalties for the innocent.
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    deannatrois · 13 days ago
    I have just received a UC Migration notice.  Inspite of receiving enhanced PIP (care and mobility) I suspect my migration will not go well.  And I won't survive being forced to work. I have physical problems (which I get very limited help with from the NHS, less from my GP who at most does telephone consultations and rarely those).  No idea what will happen, but it won't be good.  I'm going to lose my council home and income because of the way the capacity for work assessment is judged.  Then what will happen to my son who also has special needs? Just can't see a good outcome.  I have the same condition as my son as well as some physical health challenges. I can and have gone without eating for extended periods to make the budget balance and keep feeding my children but won't be able to pay the rent on nothing.  Very very scared.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Ann Heeemy · 1 days ago
      @deannatrois What is a uc migration notice? 
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      Gambolputty · 11 days ago
      @John I think the rules are dofferent for WRAG, and that reassessments are now running for the equivalent group in UC. It's just support/LCWRA that it's been switched off now. Mims Davies did say that in an interview a few weeks back. 
      What they did with your claim does sound odd though. 

      Anything I've said on here is from my own support/LCWRA experience and going by what I've read on the .gov website and What Do They Know, but I can be a dopey git at times, so don't be surprised if I've missed something! 
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      John · 12 days ago
      @Gambolputty In mid 22, I had to migrate from long-term ESA work group to UC WRA due to moving address only. The reassessment went smoothly but, completely unexpectedly, they required me to produce fit notes from my doctor ongoingly every few months in order keep the WRA going. 

      I tried to complain (fit notes obviously weren't required while on ESA, so why on WRA?) but to no avail and without any explanation. Eventually I had to do a WCA, several months after the migration, and was awarded LCWRA, so fit notes no longer required thankfully.  
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      The dogmother. · 12 days ago
      @deannatrois Omg. They are at it already. Are you in receipt of Ir esa.? I feel for you.
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      Gambolputty · 13 days ago
      @deannatrois You should retain your LCWRA and transitional protection to make up the benefit to what you're on now. I'm saying this based on the fact you might be in the ESA Support Group. 

      Saying that, if it's like when I migrated due to moving house, the worst that should happen is that it might be lightly less as you might lose the smaller of the two ESA premiums (the one that was worth about £16 in 2021). 

      On top of that, any ESA/HB you receive now should continue for two weeks after you initially claim, so in theory you'll get paid twice for the first two weeks, and won't have to pay it back or lose anything when your UC comes through on week 5. 

      I'm going on how it was done in my case when I say all of this.

      Hopefully those rules are still the same, and this has helped. 

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    Gambolputty · 13 days ago
    Something of interest to everyone here is that the PIP consultation ends on the day Parliament goes into summer recess, meaning that there's very little chance of anything happening anytime soon, even after the consultation ends. 
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    Emily · 17 days ago
    The sick note thing is bizzare. Some people will need say a one off 6 weeks to recover from serious flu or depression after a death. Then will be fully able to get back to work for 20years. If at that point you push and push them then further down the line diaster will hit and then they will be off for years. At its very basic level the rich will take unpaid leave no
    Need sick leave. The poor will be sacked when can’t work, and become homeless. How’s that going help society? 
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    Kayla · 17 days ago
    Having listened briefly to what Mel Stride said on interviews yesterday, it's goes to show how out of touch the government are with reality. The utter contempt they seem to show towards people with certain disabilities, which have a major impact on daily living is flabbergasting. For some reason there seems to be a generalised attitude of just because someone suffers depression and anxiety the removal of PIP benefits will all of a sudden make them better and fit for the work place. You can see the leeches that are employed by these assessment companies rubbing their hands together and have competition on how many people they can get off benefits. If anything this last week since the original announcement of the latest BS overhauling of the benefit system, yet again being targeted on the disabled has done nothing but making the real life situation worse. Scaremongering is a word that springs to mind. I have no idea why they seem to think they can fix the benefit system by targeting disabled people, whether it be physical or mental, but there are vulnerable people out there now that are going to worry themselves into being in a worse case than originally diagnosed or even worse.
    I'm sick to the back teeth of society bunging everyone who gets benefit, either as being work shy, or a cheat. 
    Covid does have a lot to answer for, in the way sone people are today, but in the sane breath you don't hear of the government spending time or putting effort into the 6-7 Billion pounds of fraudulent claims within the furlough scheme. Or the amount of money being ploughed into the countries asylum system. 
    The disabled community seem to be at the bottom of the pile, and always the first to be kicked when it comes to electioneering by MPs.
    Green Shield stamps are no good to anyone who has to pay privately for treatment, as its either unavailable on the NHS or simply the waiting times are years long. The BHS another money pit that needs axtotal overhaul at the top so the ground troops have more to play with.
    In layman's terms, announcements such as last week do nothing than to scare me half to death financially and absolutely boil my piss, as time after time if feels like we, as a group, politicans try and label as the scum of the country and the solution to the financial problems they have created themselves.
    Rant over.
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    Barney · 17 days ago
    Generally speaking we laypeople or claimant need to be very careful in our reasons for answers as the questions are a well designed trap to allow misconstrued interpretation and we ALL know how adept they are at this. 
    Next thing you'll know you will have rubber stamped their despicable depersonalisation of ill and disabled people. 
    And quite frankly their enlightened suggestion of 'aligning to existing local services eg LA and NHS' are rib crackingly funny. What local local services you bunch of..............?!
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      Gambolputty · 15 days ago
      @Rich If as MPs claim, that was happening with unverifiable condidtions, then they'd all be claiming for their totally verifiable verbal flatulence. As there's been plenty of that coming from the Tories lately.
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      The Dog Mother · 17 days ago
      @Rich Rich its blooming hard going getting it with pages and pages and decades of medical evidence, so if anyone has got it without they must know something we don't. They know fine well it doesn't work like that. 
      I had indefinite dla after five very rigorous assessments back in the day only to have it stripped from me once I was 'invited' to apply for pip. Zero points, tribunal, won, next time 2point,tribunal, won,third time more recently 4points, MR sent,got my pip back.Theyd rather put us through it than do the right thing first time.
      It's a ridiculous notion anyone could attempt to get it without proof to back up their conditions. 
      And as for the utter lies we get thousands per month.. yeah, you could see them throw thousands at us. Another way to divide us from the rest of the populous, it just makes a mockery of the whole thing. Think you said it best when you used the word 'Preposterous'.
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      Barney · 17 days ago
      @wibblum Many will state in their response that they need the a teal money to simply survive, pay for general things, food, bills and bingo, you've confirmed misuse of funding. All true of course but notwithstanding their medical needs as well.  For without this and particularly if totally unable to work, some, no many, will become desperate and decide they've had enough of it ALL. What would they care?
      Be very careful  everyone. 
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      Rich · 17 days ago
      @Barney BTW, anyone know of anyone having been awarded PIP without medical evidence? 
      I sure haven't.
      Preposterous fake signaling.
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      wibblum · 17 days ago
      @Barney Yes, I think it's very important to emphasise - ironically without becoming emotional - that this should not be used as an excuse to depersonalise us in our responses to the consultation (it's *exactly* that, of course, but ranting and raging about it only helps them, not us). Give personal examples but remain formal. Frame and draft your argument carefully, don't just release your feelings in one long typed stream of consciousness, because that will cut no ice with them.
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    Rugs · 17 days ago
    This is what I am understanding.  People with severe health conditions will continue to get cash payments.  Depression and anxiety,  it doesn't appear they will quality for PIP . Labour will win the next election,  but it just means that the changes to PIP will be delayed..As soon as the Tories win another election.  The Tories are going to veer even further to the right too . 
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      wibblum · 17 days ago
      @Rugs
      I know you're only reporting their intent @Rugs, but depression and anxiety ARE severe - often totally debilitating - health conditions...  describing them as anything less, however incidentally or however well-meaning your intention, is merely buying into the tories' game plan. How long then until they arbitrarily decree that 'your' severe condition is no longer 'severe' enough to spare you?

      They only need to divide the communities that oppose them in order to win.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Anon · 17 days ago
      @Rugs For.some depression and anxiety ARE severe conditions and destroy daily life and I made this clear on the consultation which I spent an hour on today.
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    Nanna · 18 days ago
    The PIP reform 'Disability green paper' has now been published. I strongly recommend that we all answer the questions posed, and send the responses as directed in the link.

    Whether we get heard is another matter, but it's important that we all respond:

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      Anon · 17 days ago
      @Gambolputty Thanks for this calm and comforting post. It helsl a lot
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      Anon · 17 days ago
      @Nanna https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=6fbxllcQF0GsKIDN_ob4wy4AdhV04YtOnxNXoi82ciFUN00yS0lJSTgzOVNaUzI1TVpYRkZGN1RUQSQlQCN0PWcu

      Here's the form to respond which was (surprise surprise) not easy to find on the site without googling 
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      Gambolputty · 18 days ago
      @Nanna Correction time!
      "Also the bookies' sites are all offering odds as high as 33/1 for a Tory win (and as we all probably know, they're usually pretty accurate on politics)."

      My mistake, they're offering 1/33 for a Labour win. That'll teach me to read Oddschecker properly. The most popular bet for a Tory win is actually 12/1

      Still, looks a lot better for Labour than it does Rishi Sunak and his mates.
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      Gambolputty · 18 days ago
      @Nanna One thing to remember is that no matter what these proposals are (yes I read the whole thing and nearly missed Corrie it took so long)  they are only proposals. Most of them are simply unworkable without some kind of staggered implementation (mush like the UC LCWRA ideas) and will likely be shot down in the Coomons and Lords during legislation if the Tories win the election. Ans likely face massive legal challenges during the implementation.

      This seems ever more unlikely as latest polls have jumped up from a 68 seat majority to 120, and now 116 seat majority over the weekend for Labour. This is on electionpolling.co.uk

      Also the bookies' sites are all offering odds as high as 33/1 for a Tory win (and as we all probably know, they're usually pretty accurate on politics). So it looks unlikely any of this will happen.

      But yes, definitely get voices and opinions out there. While it's almost certain that the Tories are leaving power shortly, it'll show public opinion for their succesors, and give them a chance to act for the people from the start.
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    DWP ARE CRIMINAL · 18 days ago
    CAN SOMEONE CLARIFY IS ESA ALSO BEING SCRAPPED 
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      Jace · 16 days ago
      @jace You will not require a fit note under managed migration your existing status moves across because you haven't been assessed to change ESA decision and if asked quote (Regulation 19) at them of the UC rules 
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      Jace · 16 days ago
      @Anon Income related ESA and Income related ESA with Housing Benefit has been delayed until 2008/9

      Contribution related ESA remains outside of universal credit thats class 1 national insurance paid separately. 

      600,000 households in total to move, it can't be done safely. 



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      jace · 17 days ago
      @DWP ARE CRIMINAL Only people on income related ESA are being moved to UC - their ESA group status will convert so the Support Group = LCWRA and the WRAG = LCW.  All the work capability rules are the same.  They may need a fit note just to start with.  Are you on Income Related?  If before the recent increase, you were getting more than £129.50pw, and are in the Support Group, you are.
      The legacy contributions based ESA is being changed to New Style ESA, but you won't have to do anything, and the new style ESA is almost identical - it's just if you need a means tested top up, instead of that being on ESA too, it will be on Universal Credit.  
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      Anon · 18 days ago
      @DWP ARE CRIMINAL Everyone on ESA is going to be moved onto UC by the end of 2025
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      Hump · 18 days ago
      @DWP ARE CRIMINAL The Tories are thinking of vouchers for PIP very soon, so I presume that it would be implemented soon after they are voted in again. Sunak did say he eventually wants all disabled benefits not to be cash. Most of us have a feeling that the Tories will be voted out next year. Let's hope!  None of it is really clarified, it's scaremongering. 
      Ps I love your chosen name. 
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    Meg · 18 days ago
    Oh and a follow on to my last post, If you do want to vote the Tories out, remember to tactical vote, so vote for whoever will win against the Tory in your area, that might not be Labour it might be Liberal or SNP or even Green if you live in an area with a standing Green MP (probably not if you don't tho)

    I will be voting on what I know is planned for us. And only one party so far has told us that. I don't want it, so I will be voting against it.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      jace · 17 days ago
      @Meg The Greens are in with a chance in Bristol, as well as in Brighton Pavillion.  
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    Meg · 18 days ago
    I would just like to take a moment to highlight something I have witnessed on various disability forums and advocacy website comments lately. There appears to be a lot of people/bots coming forward not defending the Tory proposals (because they're plainly indefensible) but who are coming out raging against Labour. I'm not trying to interfere with anyone's free voting choice but I hope we might all bear in mind that there are some dark political forces at play just now, who know that if people can be turned off the only other alternative then the Tories will get back in by default. If this is not what you want, especially now we know what they have in store for us, however much you might feel put off by Labour's silence ok our rights - remember if we do nothing or cote for a third party with no chance of winning an outright majority, we might as well vote Tory. Be clear what you want people.
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      wibblum · 18 days ago
      @Meg On the face of it, for various reasons Starmer's version of Labour is certainly not the opposition that one would hope for, but sadly they're all we realistically have at the moment. However distasteful voting for them in their current guise may be, and however melodramatic you might think it may sound, Labour may now be the only option that some of us could have for survival beyond the next two to three years.

      (MODS: this reply was meant for here but somehow ended up under a different post - probably my fault, sorry - if you'd like to swap/replace them, thanks)
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    The Dog Mother · 18 days ago
    Just heard they are back to waffling about vouchers instead of pip payments and-or having us send receipts back to them for items purchased for refunding. (So they can see if we've used pip for items to help with our daily lives)
    What kind of a country do we live in.
    So,it's definitely not about saving money at all.Its about humiliation. I'm disgusted. Keeping tabs on us at every turn.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      AndyC · 18 days ago
      @wibblum And what about those whose wives and husbands have given up work helping to look after them? They give a carer's allowance if on PIP. It is a pittance. I had to raid my private pension 4 years early at the age of 61 to allow my wife to stop working to help me at home during the day due to me falling and having nobody around. Carers allowance does not cover the cost of not working. How do I get a voucher for that?
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      The Dog Mother · 18 days ago
      @wibblum I meant to say revel not remember 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      The Dog Mother · 18 days ago
      @wibblum Unfortunately i remember IDS and his smiling face as he tried to 'revolutionise' the benefits system.
      How he was almost beside himself with glee at what he'd proposed.
      And all the back patters around him.
      The entire system stinks to high heaven,then and now.And they know it.
      They remember in the detriment of those they deem unworthy of life and do so blatantly.
      Any right thinking person would consign them to history. 
      We simply cannot go on day and daily under the Jack boot of tory Rhetoric. 
      We are being deliberately and constantly picked on,bullied and dragged into a mire of destitution.
      I can't take much more,like most of you. We are so up against it 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Hump · 18 days ago
      @The Dog Mother Yes I've just heard about the waffling about the vouchers too. Yes that would be very humiliating. I am utterly disgusted too. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      wibblum · 18 days ago
      @The Dog Mother On the face of it, for various reasons Starmer's version of Labour is certainly not the opposition that one would hope for, but sadly they're all we realistically have at the moment. However distasteful voting for them in their current guise may be, and however melodramatic you might think it may sound, Labour may now be the only option that some of us could have for survival beyond the next two to three years.
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