In a speech urging further cuts to welfare, UK Prime Minister David Cameron once again tried to win support by making out that those receiving benefits have too easy a time. He claimed that, of those receiving Disability Living Allowance, “incredibly, half of new claimants never had to provide medical evidence”. This is indeed incredible, in the sense that it should not be believed.
Many people across Europe have recoiled from harsh austerity policies, which are badly affecting the poorest in society as well as ordinary families. But the UK government is determined to take the cuts even further. Half a million people will lose disability living allowance, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has proudly announced.
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.
The coalition can force its welfare changes through using procedural measures, minor concessions and ‘financial privilege’ to do so. But the long-term political fall-out from all of this could be immense, says Simon Barrow. The warfare over welfare has shown just how powerful citizens’ action and web-based crowd sourcing can be.
"The problem with the truth is that it’s complicated. Lies are simple, they can be altered to fit any audience, they can be sensational without any boring honest bits to dilute the story. Honesty doesn’t make headlines. That’s the problem with the Welfare Reform Bill..."