Welfare reforms have barely made a dent in the number of long term benefit claimants figures quietly released last week revealed. There are just 91,000 fewer people who have been on an out of work benefit for at least three of the last four years compared to 2010 despite grandiose claims that a million new jobs have been created during the period.
The figures are one of the Government’s ‘social justice outcome indicators’ and include everybody on sickness benefits, the dole and unemployed lone parents. 2.381 million of these groups had been on one, or a combination of, these benefits for three out of four years in 2014 compared to 2.472 million in the period following the recession in 2010.
Perhaps most significantly the slight fall in the figures coincides with a huge rise in benefit sanctions suggesting that people are just being stripped of benefits, not finding jobs. The statistics do also not include people hounded into low (or no) earning self-employment by their Work Programme provider and now claiming Working Tax Credits – a practice which has been well documented. The most recent year’s figures do not even include people who had benefts stopped temporarily following a sickness benefit assessment but have since appealed and are now claiming again. The truth is that when these factors are taken into account then welfare reforms may have had no impact at all on the number of long term claimants.
Billions of pounds has been squandered by Iain Duncan Smith to bully these 91,000 people out of the benefits system. Longer term claimants are exactly the group that all of his reforms were aimed at and the dire results show beyond doubt that he has failed. Economic growth may have returned, but the very poorest are poorer than ever and there are just as many of them. The cost of these reforms to the tax payer has been astronomical – far more than if these 91,000 people had just kept claiming. The impact on the lives of those affected by endless assessments, sanctions and benefit cuts has been devastating.
One million people were forced to depend on a foodbank in the last year. The number of suicides linked to withdrawal of benefits grows ever higher. Every measure of homelessness has risen steeply. And it has all been for fuck all. Billions of pounds spent on brutalising people for no reason and with no results should be the only remembered legacy of Iain Duncan Smith’s nasty little experiment at the Department of Work and Pensions.
Join Disabled People Against Cuts on April 25th when they will visit Iain Duncan Smith Chingford constituency.
You can view the latest statistics at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/duration-on-working-age-benefits-april-2010-to-march-2014
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