When announcing a huge cut to Employment Support Allowance in his budget speech, George Osborne managed to pack so much that was misleading into only six sentences, it really merits some close analysis.
It would be quite misleading to describe the 2015 Summer Budget as a “one nation budget” or as favouring “working families” and “giving the nation a pay rise” in any meaningful sense, says Simon Barrow. On the contrary it hits low income households and disabled people, and will increase further Britain’s alarming levels of inequality.
In the New Statesman, 25-year-old Rosie Fletcher recently wrote, "Disease isn’t like a gas meter. It has no notion of economics. It doesn’t switch off because you’ve stopped putting money in. This isn’t some kind of elaborate con I’ve been running … Cutting my benefits won't get me back into work. It will make my life smaller, more stressful. It will make me sicker."
To understand the thinking behind the reform of disability benefits, we need to look at a Conference held in 2001, called ‘Malingering and illness deception’. The Conference papers were later published as a book, in which ‘the enthusiastic support of Professor Mansel Aylward [then Chief Medical Officer at the DWP] and funding from the Department for Work and Pensions’ was acknowledged.
When the ongoing process of cutting and restricting access to disability benefits began, we were told it was necessary because spending on them was out of control. A new report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) shows that, in fact, the exact opposite was the case.