Kieran James | 10.07.2006 19:14 | Health
The new scheme would require many of the people claiming the Employment Support Allowance to come up with an employment plan of action, and to participate in job related activities - such as work trials, or risk having their benefits reduced.
Speaking on Channel 4’s Today Programme, the Department of Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton stated that the aim of the bill was to focus on people’s capabilities as workers rather than looking at the economic impacts of their disabilities.
“What we want to do is measure people’s capacity to work more intelligently rather than simply measure their incapacity to work. We’ve got to see people as potential jobseekers and help them get back into the labour market”
Bert Massie, chairman of the Disability Rights Commission has tentatively praised the Bill for its potential to increase participation in the workforce, “We support welfare reform if it genuinely gets more disabled people and those with long term health conditions into work. Only half of working age disabled people in Britain are employed”
Other advocacy groups have been more critical of the DWP’s plans. Mark Serotkwa, General Secretary of the Public and Commerical Services Union expressed fears that the push to force people with disabilities back into employment could be detrimental to them in the long term, “The danger is…people will be quickly churned through and placed in jobs which may not necessarily be sustainable in the long term”