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Leaked DWP plan to abolish ESA WRAG and alter support group

The BBC has obtained a leaked document which shows that the government is considering abolishing the work-related activity group (WRAG) of employment and support allowance. The BBC claims that ministers are also considering unspecified changes to the support group.

The leaked document was produced prior to the general election and is marked ‘Not government policy’ but, according to the BBC, the cut to ESA is still being considered.

If the plan does go through it will mean that claimants with extremely serious, degenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease are likely to be obliged to claim jobseeker’s allowance until they are so incapacitated that they qualify for the support group.

Whilst on JSA they will be subject to the extremely punitive sanctions regime, which pays little regard to claimants’ health conditions.

The document also suggests that the work capability assessment should be renamed the ‘employment capability assessment’ and should be carried out much earlier in the claim process.

Bizarrely, the cut is presented as a kindness to claimants, because if there is no WRAG claimants would have less reason to worry that the outcome of their assessment was wrong.

The BBC claims that ministers are also considering changes to the support group, which could be announced in next Wednesday’s budget.

You can read the full story on the BBC website.

Comments  

#48 anon27 2015-07-17 00:25
Im in the wrag group.getting dragged into jobcentre,I am faced with hitler,I kid you not im female 58.hes a coward and a bully.and because of my illness,he talks to me like im crap.the tory regime wants the disabled to disappesr.like the naxi regime.it is for the courtd to decide how many people have commited suiside.since the trory scum came to power.
#47 Paul Richards 2015-07-11 21:10
Hi tintack,
Yes, I would entirely agree with that strategy - if they do'nt get that - then they must be entirely heartless!
#46 tintack 2015-07-08 23:28
Quoting Paul Richards:
Hi all, (Re the previous story on here)
Ref: TERMINALLY ILL ASKED DIRECTLY HOW LONG THEY ARE EXPECTED TO LIVE
What a total and bl**dy disgrace - how dare a lowly 'physiotherapist' or similar 'HCP' have the gall to ask someone this - it would be bad enough if one was to know when one was likely to pass away - without being asked directly (to give a rough date) about it.
Have they been directed to 'ask' this question and if so - obviously they do not care, - otherwise they would think well before asking it!


If I were in that position I'd give them a date, and then politely ask them if I would be subject to any sort of penalty if I failed to die on time. It would probably take something as direct as that to bring home to them the sheer callousness of treating people in such a fashion.
#45 Paul Richards 2015-07-08 18:25
Hi all, (Re the previous story on here)
Ref: TERMINALLY ILL ASKED DIRECTLY HOW LONG THEY ARE EXPECTED TO LIVE
What a total and bl**dy disgrace - how dare a lowly 'physiotherapis t' or similar 'HCP' have the gall to ask someone this - it would be bad enough if one was to know when one was likely to pass away - without being asked directly (to give a rough date) about it.
Have they been directed to 'ask' this question and if so - obviously they do not care, - otherwise they would think well before asking it!
+3 #44 Paul Richards 2015-07-06 22:54
Hi all,
All things considered - Before IDS eventually resigns - he should be made to live on JSA (over 25yrs rates) to see how he survives.
I bet that he could not survive at all - and then after his two weeks of 'surviving' on his £147.50p then he should immediately be taken to a 'place of detention' - probably courtesy of 'SERCO' or 'G4S' and then be taken to 'answer' for his 'orders' to 'his DWP' to impose sanctions on those poor unfortunates who could not see any other way through other than to top themselves.
He should, after all of this, be properly and justly prosecuted for 'manslaughter' - as it was due to his own orders to 'his' Department that this occurred.
Of course, his 'friend' and ('confident'!) David Cameron would, no doubt, defend him every inch of the way!
+2 #43 Wonko 2015-07-06 14:56
Quote:
Quoting carruthers:
Here's another thought. I was looking at another news item where IDS said,

Quote:
"Our purpose is to reform welfare in order to get people back to work, and to ensure that those who cannot manage and have disabilities are treated with the utmost kindness and given the utmost support.”"

Notice the separation of "those who can't manage" and those who "have disabilities".
That sentence is ambiguous. It could be read as "those who cannot manage" and "those with disabilities" being separate groups, or it could mean "those who both cannot manage and have disabilities", as being a single group. Had it been said by someone else I might give the benefit of the doubt and think that the latter was meant, but as it's IDS he probably meant the former.
People who can't manage won't be in the support group anyway, on my own I certainly wouldn't be. I haven't been able to fill in the forms myself for my last 3 rounds of assessments (and am pretty useless at answering the questions when asked), I haven't been able to attend a medical unaccompanied for around the last 8-9 rounds of assessments. So someone who really can't manage - no chance of benefits. Next time it's unlikely I'll get through as the people who currently help me will be too ill (one currently is) or too old/dead to help.

The system has no provision tp deal with those who can't manage, other than the obvious :(
+1 #42 tintack 2015-07-06 13:24
Quoting carruthers:
Here's another thought. I was looking at another news item where IDS said,

Quote:
"Our purpose is to reform welfare in order to get people back to work, and to ensure that those who cannot manage and have disabilities are treated with the utmost kindness and given the utmost support.”"

Notice the separation of "those who can't manage" and those who "have disabilities".
That sentence is ambiguous. It could be read as "those who cannot manage" and "those with disabilities" being separate groups, or it could mean "those who both cannot manage and have disabilities", as being a single group. Had it been said by someone else I might give the benefit of the doubt and think that the latter was meant, but as it's IDS he probably meant the former.
+1 #41 tintack 2015-07-06 13:02
Quoting potter:
Yes so that probably means those who are in grave danger of doing harm to themselves or others will be passed fit to go into the WRAG.


Or, if the WRAG is scrapped, they'll simply be passed fit for work and pushed onto JSA, and then fall victim to the sanctions regime.
+2 #40 tintack 2015-07-06 12:58
Quoting carruthers:
The other option which I dread is them essentially turned the Support Group into the WRAG. That would mean SG recipients being made to turn up to work-focussed interviews and take part in various Work Programme activities. Doubtless there will be medical exemptions, but their validity will be judged by the junior, untrained, clerk in A4E who handles these things.


If they turned the SG into the WRAG they'd effectively be saying that no-one is unfit for work, given that WRAG claimants seem to be treated as if they were fit for work already. You'd think that would be hard to sell to the electorate, and it would be if the media reported on it. Whether that would happen is the worry, though I still think changing the rules on exceptional circumstances is by far the most likely change to the SG. It's the one change which would slash the numbers of those qualifying for the SG, it would probably do so pretty quickly, and if they simply abolish the exceptional circumstances rules it will be easy enough to do.
+1 #39 carruthers 2015-07-06 11:01
Here's another thought. I was looking at another news item where IDS said,

Quote:
"Our purpose is to reform welfare in order to get people back to work, and to ensure that those who cannot manage and have disabilities are treated with the utmost kindness and given the utmost support.”"
Notice the separation of "those who can't manage" and those who "have disabilities".

He could be aiming to cut either ESA or PIP by means-testing. Define "those who cannot manage" as being "only those with no other source of income in the family." In other words eliminate Contribution-ba sed ESA altogether.

Many disabled people would pass any means test, but adding an extra layer of form filling might discourage still more claimants. It would also add to the expense of administering the benefits, but that's not something IDS worries about. Income-related ESA is already slated for inclusion in Universal Credit.

Pulling the same trick on PIP - only give it to those who can prove that they don't have other sources of income and then add it in to UC - would probably save money. Or would if UC ever works as planned.
+2 #38 carruthers 2015-07-06 07:43
Quoting Crazydiamond:
In my opinion, the alteration to the support group will probably be the removal or the watering down of Regulation 35 of the Employment and Support Act (exceptional circumstances)
That sounds all too plausible. So we'll have no more, "Going to work will kill him" stuff - what's needed is more CBT by the therapist next door to the Jobcentre.

The other option which I dread is them essentially turned the Support Group into the WRAG. That would mean SG recipients being made to turn up to work-focussed interviews and take part in various Work Programme activities. Doubtless there will be medical exemptions, but their validity will be judged by the junior, untrained, clerk in A4E who handles these things.

And if that is the case, then we'll also be looking for action on sanctioning in an effort to reduce the ESA bill that way.

I can just see IDS's pleasure at the thought of getting the very sick to "think positively" again.
+1 #37 potter 2015-07-05 23:32
Quoting Crazydiamond:
In my opinion, the alteration to the support group will probably be the removal or the watering down of Regulation 35 of the Employment and Support Act (exceptional circumstances).

This has been the bane of the DWP for some time now because a lot more claimants are gaining entry to the support group through Reg 35, hence the reason for the change.
. Yes so that probably means those who are in grave danger of doing harm to themselves or others will be passed fit to go into the WRAG.
+4 #36 Mockingbird 2015-07-05 20:15
Quoting stevie mac:
if the torys really could do it what hitler did they would put all of us disabled on trains and get rid of us


They are doing the same only their methods are dfifferent. We should all bombard the gov on the same day with the direct question "are you trying to get rid of us"
+5 #35 buster 2015-07-05 11:02
So called leaked documents: I don't believe they are leaked, I believe they are put in to the public domain deliberately to test public reaction prior to policy announcement. If the gullible public don't react adversely - then go with it - this seems to be how the Tories work nowadays. If a public outcry results (usually orchestrated by the media), for example, when the government "leaked" Child Benefit cuts for families bringing in more than £50,000 were announced - Tory plans were "watered down" - now making it possible for these families to keep on getting Child benefit paid - with the option of paying it back via income tax. I believe the Tories also raised the earnings cut off from the first announced £32,000 - £50,000.

Buster
+4 #34 buster 2015-07-05 10:47
Slightly off topic; please forgive me but I have just found out about the most crass and abhorrent Tory government idea EVER thought of in my opinion; another attack on relatively poor people will be announced on Wednesday by George Osborne during his budget. The Tories will announce that tenants living in social housing who have a combined earnings income of £30,000 will now have to pay the equivalent local market private rent instead of their current social rent.

So if you take a family with 2 children living in a council or housing association house who currently rely fully on the fathers income of £410 a week to survive (equivalent to an annual income of £30,000 after tax and NI divided by 52 weeks). Where I live a family in these circumstances will see there weekly rent rise from roughly £110 to £200 overnight - no ifs no buts. Well, how is this going to raise aspirations for families on low and modest incomes who are living in social housing, I ask myself. I am sure this kind of situation will be borne out all other England (it is not a UK policy). It will result in even more families, working families at that, being well and truly cemented in poverty - possibly even abject poverty - because they will no longer be able to afford many modern day essentials. At the same time the Tories are to repeal the Child Poverty Act and will stop taking in to account how much money a family has to live on each week when measuring child poverty - in other words money won't mater any more when determining whether someone is poor or not - how utterly bizarre.

And of course we are to learn that Child Tax Credits are are going to be cut to 2003 levels - reducing by a third overall - including the Disabled and Severely Disabled Child Elements payable to parents of disabled children. If this isn't bad enough, the Tories supported by Labour are to announce a reduction in the overall benefit cap - equivalent to 1980 benefit levels.
Buster
+6 #33 Chris29 2015-07-05 08:00
According to the first page I found on google this lady is an ex advisor to IDS, so she is hardly neutral.

I am lost for words, this country is fast becoming a very bad place with barely anyone batting an eyelid as it seems everyone has been convinced the bulk of their taxes go on disability benefits and all the pensioners have been bribed off by this government.

Make no mistake this leaked document has only been written because someone in authority asked for it to be written, it got leaked to test the public's and media response to it.
+2 #32 tintack 2015-07-05 01:34
Quoting Gawayn:
Exactly! Effectively what Charlotte Pickles is saying is that people who have been medically assessed by their GPs and relevant specialists as being unfit for work, and passed an extremely stringent WCA stating the same thing are in fact fit for work, and should therefore be "incentivised" into finding it by cutting the money they are entitled to.

Utterly bizarre logic!


According to the website, which is here:

http://www.reform.uk/about/our_people/charlotte-pickles/

she's Senior Research Director, so she's apparently one of their most knowledgeable people! Though perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised at her somewhat tenuous grasp of this subject, given that the site says she "spent two years as Expert Advisor to Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, helping to design and deliver the Government’s welfare agenda.". If this is the level of "expertise" which is behind welfare "reform", it's no real surprise that these policies are such a train wreck.

The above link includes contact details, so if anyone would like to e-mail Pickles to ask her why she thinks ESA should "incentivise" people to find work when it's meant to be a benefit specifically for those too ill to work, I'm sure her answer would be fascinating.
+1 #31 Effie 2015-07-04 19:50
[quote name="Blackcat
"]Hi
I submit that disabled or otherwise speculative CV's to employers by post are only 25% succesful,e mails are probably only about 7% succesful. How many employers actually use Jobcentres?
When was the last time you actually heard of anybody [disabled or otherwise] arriving at a company with the job advert in hand and saying to the employer they needn't bother with short lists or interviews, they had just started. Employers do actually have rights,their insurers may ask about employees with pre existing medical conditions.Can everybody carry out their various 'Duty of Care' obligations?
Hi to all,
So sorry to hear everbodies fear and concern and hope that we can all help the rest of us to get through whatever is dropped on us and not let the uncaring ,blinkered sub humans in charge push one more important life to the end.
With regard to us all being employable and insurance this is so very wrong.Having spent the last few years being classed as well enough to do something by the DWP but due to the amount of and type of medications being told they could not put me forward for any kind of employment or training as would not be covered by any employment liability insurance .They also stated that any employer giving me a job would be breaking the law due to being uninsurable due to "possible and likely risks caused by effects or likely,possible or probable side effects of prescribed medication and condition created by such" I took a while getting my head around that particular part of their reasoning but still had to fight and only with B&W here managed to get into support group.I can't understand how the businesses aren't making it clear to all that they can't employ a lot of us due to their inability to gain insurance to do so which would give those making these inane comments about the sick and disabled working a reality check!
Take care of each other and stay strong.
+3 #30 Crazydiamond 2015-07-04 12:32
In my opinion, the alteration to the support group will probably be the removal or the watering down of Regulation 35 of the Employment and Support Act (exceptional circumstances).

This has been the bane of the DWP for some time now because a lot more claimants are gaining entry to the support group through Reg 35, hence the reason for the change.
+4 #29 angela 2015-07-04 09:59
David cameron wants to be known as the prime minister that got rid of all benefits in this county make no mistake this man will have a good try also, i take 23 tablets a day just been diagnosed with Vascular dementia with my other disabiltys means my partner/carer has to give me my medication what employer is going to do that for me if i am told to find a job been disabled for 19 years am i just going to all of a sudden found fit to work cant find any words for this goverment

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