The government is planning to make some of the biggest changes in welfare provision for sixty years, particularly that of disability benefits and specifically Incapacity Benefit (IB). Sheffield Welfare Action Network (SWAN) is setting up a national founding conference (to be held Mid October) in Sheffield to highlight these changes and the present state of disability welfare and to facilitate the setting up of a national framework to campaign against these punitive changes.
National Disability Benefits conference, Sheffield 15/10/05 — Challenge the cuts!
‘Welfare reform is one of the Governments seven priorities for the coming term’ — Tony Blair
‘Incapacity benefit (IB) can no longer be used as a "crutch" for those who refuse to work.’ — David Blunkett: Secretary Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)
The Govt’s Welfare Reforms: Survival of the fittest?
The government is planning to make some of the biggest changes in welfare provision for sixty years, particularly that of disability benefits and specifically Incapacity Benefit (IB).
Over 800,000 disabled people may lose over £30 a week from their benefit and face being cajoled into unsuitable work. These are changes which are of real concern to most disabled people, and which will plunge many into poverty and despair.
While the changes are comprehensive and also involve issues of personal choice and civil liberties (see below), the main thrust of the changes is that there will be a penalty /cut of over £30 (well over a third of benefit) if the person receiving IB does not attend what they (the Gov’t) are calling ‘work-focused interviews’ to prove they are actively seeking work. Clearly, as this will be based on targets not need, (over 80% of IB claimants will be required to attend), we will have the frightening and frankly bizarre situation whereupon hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable people in the UK who find it hard to ‘just get through the day’ will be pressured into looking for work that is not available or impossible to undertake, or face losing this money.
Where are these jobs?
Clearly this is not about 'helping the sick back into work' because as many critics of the policy have noted, where are these jobs going to come from?
In the UK there are just 628,000 job vacancies at any one time and there are about 800,000 people who are unemployed on Jobseekers Allowance and therefore 'actively seeking work' in addition to the single parents (around 700,000 people) and in addition to the 2,700,000 people on incapacity based benefits.
So, a whole lot of people looking for suitable work!
David Blunkett the DWP Secretary has been looking enviously over the water to our U.S cousins to see how the private sector and faith based charities can be used to administer such welfare, perhaps he should look at New Orleans to see how successful that model is.
Challenging The Reforms…
In Sheffield, political seat of the DWP Secretary David Blunkett, a new non party political group: Sheffield Welfare Action Network (SWAN) has been set up to challenge and campaign against these iniquitous and cruel changes.
Changes, which will affect and burden vulnerable people, who already face one of the most punitive welfare systems in Europe.
A National Response
However, SWAN is aware that such changes will need to be resisted on a national level to be effective and is proposing the formation of a network of U.K wide campaigning groups to be called ‘Dignity: The National Campaign Against Punitive Welfare’.
To this end, SWAN is seeking the widest support from individuals and others, NGO’s, Health Support Groups, Faith Groups, the Labour Movement, Student Unions, etc, to help create this network.
SWAN is setting up a national founding conference (to be held Mid October) in Sheffield to highlight these changes and the present state of disability welfare and to facilitate the setting up of a national framework to campaign against these punitive changes.
As well as the conference we aim to have other future activities such as street protests, lobbying ministers/MP’s petitions, etc.
The Future of Benefits
A national conference on cuts in disability benefits and the reality of living on welfare
15 Oct 2005
Venue: Sheffield Hallam University Union of Students The HUBS, Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2QQ Complete Disabled Access and right near main Train station)
- Time 10.30 AM – 4.30PM
- Food / Refreshments
- Donations Will be accepted on the door
- Lorna Reith – Chief Exec. of Disability Alliance.
- Sheila Messider - Advice Centre Support in Sheffield
Including: how to campaign, running groups, researching information, models of ill health/disability, media views of welfare
Personal stories from those on disability welfare and the difficulties they face.
To highlight the coming disability welfare reforms and raise the profile issue of disability welfare rights and related issues (sadly neglected for many years) and disability benefits issues generally and to promote and widen its scope.
To set up a national campaigning network against the proposed disability benefit welfare changes, specifically disability benefit cuts and any coercive measures that may be implemented.
To find out more or if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact our secretary Chris on 07903453006 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. (website coming soon.)
Resources / Links
Labour to crack down on incapacity benefit
Fraser Nelson — Political Editor
David Blunkett yesterday drew the battle lines for an autumn battle over welfare reform as he warned that incapacity benefit (IB) can no longer be used as a "crutch" for those who refuse to work.
The Work and Pensions Secretary said reducing the number on IB - 2.8 million, including two in five working-age adults in Glasgow - will be a defining mission of Labour's third term.
Ministers plan biggest shake-up of the welfare state for 60 years
By Andrew Grice, Political Editor — Published: 12 September 2005
The Government is to embark on the biggest shake-up of the state benefits system for 60 years, according to David Blunkett, the Work and Pensions Secretary.
- Specialist plan to help GPs end sick note ethic
- Incapacity Benefit to be replaced in 2008
- Incapacity benefit overhaul at heart of welfare reform
- Blunkett faces battle over welfare reform plans
- Blunkett faces battle over welfare reform plans