Yesterday’s Daily Mail Workshy map blows apart the benefit bullshitting of the right wing press, despite their best efforts to smear hundred of thousands of sick and disabled people as criminals.
The map is based on recent figures detailing the outcomes of Incapacity Benefit re-assessments. This is the crude computer based test carried out by IT firm Atos which has been used to strip vital benefits from hundreds of thousands of people. This system has been justified by a relentless propaganda campaign which evoked myths of millions of scroungers, families where three generations have never had a job and whole areas of the UK ‘blighted’ by benefits culture.
In fact digging into the figures simply reveals that even in unemployment hotspots, the number of people who have been assessed as unable to work is tiny. According to the Mail, 2,570 people in Leeds were found ‘fit for work’. Leeds has a population of almost three quarters of a million people. This means around one person in every three hundred was claiming a sickness or disability that they are no longer entitled to. Even on a large housing estate this represents just a handful of people. This number will rise as Incapacity Benefit re-assessments are not yet complete, but the figures suggest at the very most one person in 150 will eventually lose the benefit*.
And in truth most of those people are far from ‘fit for work’. Employment Minister Mark Hoban recently revealed that 15% of ‘fit for work’ decisions are eventually judged to be incorrect – and that only includes those claimants with the tenacity, confidence, and health to successfully undertake an appeal. Even those who do not have decisions over-turned at appeal may be anything but ‘fit for work’. People with Multiple Sclerosis, cancer, Parkinson’s Disease and many other serious health conditions have all been judged able to work by Atos and the DWP.
The Daily Mail’s claim that all those found ‘fit for work’ are workshy is as contemptible in itself as it is dishonest. It is worth remembering that everybody who was previously claiming Incapacity Benefit had previously been signed off work by their own doctor and undergone a DWP medical. Unless both GPs and the DWP’s own doctors have been lying on a massive scale, then none of these people could be considered to be in good health.
This is reflected in what little evidence is available (PDF) detailing what happens to those found ‘fit for work’, which shows that most people end up on the dole. And it is this which shatters yet another myth about welfare reform – which is that this is about saving tax payers money.
Claimants thrown onto the dole lose around £30 a week and but this means a significant administration burden for already over-stretched Jobcentres. This comes on top of the cost of the Atos assessments and the ever growing number of appeals – along with considerable hidden costs such as an increase on the burdens on GPs, hospital consultants and advice agencies. This stress of these assessments alone has driven some claimants to suicide, whilst many more people have reported their health has deteriorated due to the system.
It is now a terrifying time in the UK to be both poor and in poor health. It is not just those currently on benefits who will be affected, but anyone who falls ill or becomes disabled and has to leave their job. And for what? To make a fraction of a percentage of people lose around £30 a week because they are no longer quite as ill or disabled as this Government now insists they must be to qualify for health related benefits. Rarely has such a nasty policy been carried out by any Government for such trivial ends.
*It is unclear how far through the assessment process different cities are. As the assessments are just over half complete then the Daily Mail’s workshy map actually means nothing at all, except for demonstrating the revealing fact that no-one at the paper seems to know where Manchester is.
A ‘not fit for work’ map has been created by @Mylegalforum and published on DPAC’s website.
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