Disabled people must fulfill ‘their duty’ by working from home, says minister
Hundreds of thousands will need to seek home-based employment or potentially face a reduction in benefits amounting to £4,680 annually
Britain’s new Chief Secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott arrives at Downing Street ahead of the Cabinet Meeting on November 14, 2023 in London, England (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Individuals facing mobility and mental health challenges will encounter a new policy requiring them to work from home or risk losing their benefits, a government minister said on Tuesday (21), underlining the concept of fulfilling “their duty.”
This initiative, to be unveiled during Wednesday’s (22) autumn statement, forms part of Rishi Sunak’s efforts to overhaul the welfare system, which he described “unsustainable” on Monday (20), The Guardian reported.
Reports indicate that hundreds of thousands will need to seek home-based employment or potentially face a reduction in benefits amounting to £4,680 annually.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Laura Trott, conveyed to Sky News that there should be support for people to facilitate their entry into the workforce. She said that citizens, if capable, have a duty to engage in work, contributing to society and fulfilling their responsibilities.
Earlier, Trott told Times Radio that the government’s intentions were “not just about forcing people out.” She said, “It’s saying we’re going to put the right mechanisms around you to help you with that. But ultimately, you have to engage with that, and that is an obligation on you as a citizen to do this. And if you don’t do this, we will look at sanctions.”
Charities have responded critically to the plans. Ayla Ozmen, the director of policy and campaigns at the anti-poverty charity Z2K, described the proposals as “rushed and ill-thought-out.”
“There is no evidence to support the idea that there are fully remote jobs available that are suitable for these groups,” she said.
“This is simply a cut for those of us who become seriously ill or disabled in the future and need the support of social security, and risks worsening people’s health and pushing them further from work.”
Sarah White, the head of policy at the national disability charity sense, expressed concerns, stating that while everyone who can and wants to work should have the opportunity, this latest government move seems poised to punish disabled individuals. White highlighted the added anxiety this might impose on households already facing challenges.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will unveil the specifics of the policy, which arose following government consultations several months ago regarding Work Capability Assessment (WCA).
In her interview on the BBC’s Today programme, Trott expanded on the scope of the autumn statement. When asked about tax cuts for individuals beyond business tax reductions, she said, “That is where the focus is.”
She added, “In broad narrative terms this is a big moment for us, for people at home, because inflation has halved. We know how difficult it has been and it will mean important things for the household budget.”
Charities have issued warnings concerning the DWP’s proposals to tighten health-related benefits, affecting over 3 million working-age adults in the UK.
They fear these changes might trigger significant anxiety and potential sanctions for disabled individuals.
Campaigners have highlighted concerns that the proposed welfare adjustments could result in many individuals losing nearly £400 a month in support.
Tony Wilson, the director of the Institute for Employment Studies, said in an interview in September that additional support aimed at assisting disabled individuals in finding employment should not come with excessively rigid conditions.
Speaking in London on Monday regarding the proposed benefit changes, Sunak said, “We believe in the inherent dignity of a good job. And we believe that work, not welfare, is the best route out of poverty.”
He highlighted that currently, approximately 2 million working-age individuals are not employed, which he termed a national scandal and a substantial waste of human potential. The prime minister also stressed the need for increased support for those capable of working.
Additionally, he noted a significant rise in the number of individuals receiving health-related benefits since the eve of the Covid pandemic, particularly in the limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA) group, which receives an additional £390.06 per month.