Asked to review a Citizens’s Advice Bureau (CAB) report on how Universal Credit will affect disabled people, I did not expect to find it encouraging. But what the report reveals was even worse than I feared. You can read the full review on the Think Tank Review website, but here is just a flavour of what Universal Credit will mean for some disabled people.
As Iain Duncan Smith was being lauded at the Conservative Party Conference for ending ‘a culture of dependency’ through welfare reform, one wondered how many people present knew or cared about one significant but unmentioned fact.
When I was young, my father often used to repeat a saying his mother had told him, “To whom much is given, of them much is expected.” It was long time before I realised that this early version of “check out your privilege” was in fact quoting Jesus in the Bible (Luke 12:48), but I have never forgotten it, and I always try to live by it.
Stealing is a crime, but is it always a sin? Christian teaching over many centuries has said that to steal to meet an essential need is not in fact a sin, and that the real sin lies in the human systems and values that create such need.
For people at the sharp end, the poorest and those most dependent on public services, it sometimes feels as if the Coalition has spent the last four years steadily unpicking the very fabric of our society. For a long time this process has been under-reported by the media, but gradually the results are becoming impossible to ignore.
In politics it is more constructive to focus on policies and ideas than on individuals, says Bernadette Meaden. She suggests, however, that a politician may become so wedded to a policy that their personal reputation and the credibility of the policy become inextricably linked. She argues that this is now the case with Iain Duncan Smith.
One of Britain's leading academic and policy experts on poverty and disadvantage, and how to combat them, has commended the new Spartacus Network Report, Beyond the Barriers which was produced wholly by disabled and sick people, and co-published by Ekklesia yesterday (9 April 2014).
This new report Beyond the Barriers: Employment Support Allowance, the Work Programme and recommendations for a new system of support, released by the Spartacus Network and co-published by Ekklesia and the Centre for Welfare Reform today, demonstrates that the policy status quo presents an unforgiving environment for thousands of disabled people across the UK, says its stinging conclusion.