The Chancellor’s Conference speech contained a statement about disabled people and benefits which was misleading, but went largely unchallenged by the mainstream media. Mr Osborne promised a two year freeze on working age benefits if the Conservatives are re-elected but made a point of saying, "disability benefits will be excluded". Is that true?{jcomments on}

Well, it all depends on what you consider to be a disability benefit. Included in the proposed freeze are people who receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are part of the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG). These are people who the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have decided are not fit for work at the moment, but are required to undertake work related activity, with a view to returning to work in future.

The public would probably assume that this group was for people who had had an accident or injury from which they would soon recover, or an illness which was expected to get better. No doubt that’s what most of the audience in the conference hall who applauded the Chancellor’s speech would think, if they thought about it at all.

However, this is far from the truth. People placed in the WRAG may have serious disabilities or degenerative conditions, from which (barring a miracle), they will never recover. Last year Parkinson’s UK reported that 43 per cent of people with Parkinson’s, MS, or other progressive conditions, who found they could no longer work and put in a claim for ESA, were placed in the WRAG group. The DWP was telling them they would recover, but as Parkinson’s UK pointed out, "This directly contradicts the definition of a progressive condition, which can only get worse over time."

Read the full story at Ekklesia.


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