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Should the welfare system be reformed? Is the tax credit system flawed? Is a universal credit a good idea in principle? The answer to all these questions is 'yes'. But if the question is about whether the government is tackling these issues in the correct way, the answer is 'no'. A huge change of direction is required.
The former UK minister for employment Chris Grayling was adamant that he was "unreservedly and implacably opposed to a real world test" when it comes to assessing people with disabilities and serious illnesses in terms of their fitness for work and eligibility for benefits. That position remains unchanged.
Plans to make even seriously ill or disabled people work without pay, or risk having their benefits cut, have met with wide criticism. There will be no time limits on such work placements, to be introduced when the Welfare Reform Bill has been passed by the UK Parliament.
In recent months social media has proved its worth against some harping critics. The uprisings across the Middle East, the worldwide Occupy protest against unsustainable corporate neo-capitalism and the Spartacus Report revolt of disabled and sick people over punitive welfare cuts and changes: all these movements for change have benefited in a variety of ways from web 2.0 and beyond, from online crowd-sourcing, from twitter, from virals, and from 'internetworking'.
The government claims that its determined attempts to cut the living standards of the poor are necessary to cut public spending. Many have pointed out that the Welfare Reform Bill and other changes have immediate and long-term costs attached, so will not save nearly as much as is claimed. The rationale for harsh new measures looks even flimsier since it has emerged that the government is shelling out public money to take paid work away from the poor.