Steve Webb writes… Why Liberal Democrats should welcome the welfare reforms

Many Liberal Democrats may be wondering what to make of last week’s announcement by Iain Duncan Smith to replace a whole raft of working-age welfare benefits with a Universal Credit. As a Lib Dem Minister at the DWP, I thought it would be helpful to offer my perspective.

As a party we have long talked about integrating the tax and benefits system. As a first step, we surely need to integrate the benefits system with itself. The Universal Credit approach sits comfortably with our own policy to introduce a single working-age benefit, and will provide a basic allowance topped up by additional elements payable to meet the costs arising from caring and family responsibilities, and disability and housing needs.

It will seek to support people both in and out of work, and will replace tax credits, housing benefit, income support, income-based Jobseekers Allowance and income-related Employment and Support Allowance. For anyone who has ever had to help constituents with tax credits under-payments and over-payments, the prospect of streamlining this system is a big prize.

I believe that we can emphasise some real advantages to these reforms:

  • This policy is about supporting people, especially those on the lowest incomes. The Government has pledged to spend £2 billion on these reforms in the period up to 2014-15;
  • Labour’s efforts to reform welfare over the last 13 years created greater complexity in an already bewildering system, with increased form-filling, mass means-testing, and the undermining of incentives to save. The Universal Credit will streamline and simplify the system so that people are better able to know where they will stand if they take a job;
  • With a single benefit, take-up will clearly improve, helping to reduce in-work poverty;
  • Current high withdrawal rates of benefits as someone enters work or increases hours means that many are afraid to change their circumstances in case they end up with less money at the end of the week;
  • Under the new rules, people will be able to keep much more of their wage before the benefit taper kicks in – this may be especially helpful to some disabled people who may find part-time work is most suitable;
  • There will be no cash losers – where the new, simpler system would produce a lower entitlement than the present system, current recipients will be protected.

Two areas where Liberal Democrats may have questions are sanctions and mandatory work activity.

The media has focused on the most severe of the proposed sanctions, but the whole point of sanctions is that they act as a deterrent. The most severe sanctions are intended only to be applied in exceptional circumstances where people systematically and repeatedly abuse the system. There are appeal rights if people feel sanctions have been applied unfairly and there remains a system of hardship support for the most vulnerable.

The use of sanctions will be up to the discretion of Jobcentre Plus advisers. They will use their judgement as to whether someone has a genuine reason for not taking a particular job, such as that it cannot be made to fit with their childcare arrangements.

Mandatory work activity will also be at the discretion of the Jobcentre Plus adviser, and is aimed at a small group of people who have been stuck on benefit and are feeling completely demoralised. The adviser will have to believe that it is in the interests of the individual concerned to try something different.

This will be a time-limited four week period of activity that aims to break the spiral of despondency; to get people out of the house, into a routine, put something new on their CV and see that they are contributing to society. It is not intended to be a job in itself, nor as a sneaky way of replacing paid jobs that are being cut elsewhere in the system. Getting someone involved in community work on a committed basis for four weeks will also have an impact on the minority who are quietly working whilst claiming out-of-work benefits.

All the details of the proposals are set out in the White Paper, and will come before Parliament in a Welfare Reform Bill in 2011. These changes will reduce child poverty, improve benefit take-up, provide a better return to work and more security for those who take a job, without reducing support overall for those who are unable to work. I believe that Liberal Democrat campaigners should be happy to tell their constituents about these plans as one of the positive achievements of the Coalition government.

Steve Webb is Minister of State for Pensions

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  • What about Job centre help for those who have over the 16k threshold. They can’t get the reduced training package in IT so are told to spend some money so that they can claim both JSA and the training when they might be working part-time and just want the training.

  • Dominic Curran 16th Nov '10 - 10:51am

    Steve, I’m taking the liberty of cutting and pasting a comment left by someone else on another LDV thread (‘Clegg has not betrayed us’) which i hope will spur you out of your complacency:

    “I work for an art therapy charity working with disabled and mentally ill people. A recent example: a man who is severely disabled and relies on an electric wheelchair to get around recently lost his benefits and is now suffering with only JSA while he waits the 8+ months for his appeal to be heard. He was recently found “fit” for work by ATOS because he is able (and I am not making this up) to push paper around a desk and sit at a computer for 10 minutes straight. Never mind the fact that most days he is in so much pain he can’t even get out of his bed into his wheelchair. He just happened to be having a good day when his appointment with ATOS was scheduled. He has no idea what to do, his disability incurs extra costs as his needs are greater and he is worried sick, which makes his illness worse. On top of all this, he may be losing his care allowance as well as the council makes even more cutbacks. He is scared shitless and is a completely different person than the one he was a few months back. He’s a broken man, emotionally. Another example: a man with schizophernia was also recently found fit for work because, again, some days he is able to cope and other days he is not. He is known to have violent outbursts and has been sectioned several times in the past. But, again, ATOS and the DWP now have a very strict criteria as to who is and isn’t “disabled”. They are using what is known as the “Hawking” test, ie., if someone is more mobile than Professor Hawking they are usually denied benefits. Their tests are one size fits all. They do not take into account the multitude of minutiae of various disabilities. Let me repeat myself: the coalition is going further than Labour ever did to make life hard for those who already have a hard life.

    This has been going on under Labour, which was disgusting enough, but has recently got worse since the coalition told the DWP to be even more strict and to save more money. If you do not believe me, have a look at disabled peoples’ forums, talk to people in charities for the sick and disabled. These are people who are too weak to fight back and get lost in the system.

    And your party is letting this happen, you’re supporting IDS’ proposals to get even tougher on the weakest in society. That is why this government makes me feel sick. These are exactly the people we should be protecting, but the exact opposite is happening. The LibDems would normally speak out about this travesty. But there’s been nothing but silence and lies that this is somehow “fair”.

    And nobody seems to care any more. Your party has gone along with the Tories demonising people in society who already have nothing. You are letting this happen. And it makes me disgusted to think I was taken in by Clegg’s false claims of compassion and “fairness”. I am already seeing the affects this policy is having on people. And as the cuts hit, it will only get worse. How long are you going to let this go on?”

  • Anthony Aloysius St 16th Nov '10 - 10:53am

    “There will be no cash losers – where the new, simpler system would produce a lower entitlement than the present system, current recipients will be protected.”

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t believe the Tories will enact a reform that will leave some people much better off and no one worse off. Frankly I don’t think the Lib Dems will either.

    Essentially, I just don’t believe it’s going to happen like this. And considering what’s happened so far this year, an assurance from a Lib Dem MP isn’t going to convince me.

  • “The media has focused on the most severe of the proposed sanctions”

    The media has also focussed on the 10% reduction of housing benefit after 12 months of unemployment which you neglect to mention here. In times of high unemployment (about to be higher as accepted by the goverment due to public sector cuts) some will not be able to find a job in this time. If the more draconian of sanctions can be at the discretion of the Job Centre Plus advisor why not this one ?

    Surely if someone has been actively seeking employment and cannot find employment then to to reduce their housing benefit is just a petty punitive measure.

    It is these details that make the public concerned, also whether or not the protection regarding child care etc you mention wil be specified in the legislation so that claimants can have suitable recourse. If we look at the shambles the ATOS medicals have caused then I would further stipulate that appeals must be heard within one month and payments kept at the original rate pending these.

    Also if you are certain that the work activity will not be replacing paid jobs scrapped by either central or local government authorities make this a specific criteria laid down in the legislation.

    Nobody who grew up, as I did, in a poor household during theThatcher years will trust the Tories on welfare. If you want broad support on these measures then the safety nets need to be specific, easily understood and available without a lengthy appeals process.

  • Steve,

    There are some good things in the welfare reforms, but like others I’m worried about the direction that disability benefits are heading in. Above all, how do we justify the proposals in the new Green Paper on legal aid to end legal aid for welfare decision appeals? The idea that it won’t be possible for people to challenge e.g. ATOS assessments unless they self-represent is frightening.

  • I think there is a lot to support here, but as ever the PR on this was very bad for the libdems.

    Volunteering is an excellent way to improve your CV when unemployed. But rather than presenting this as a way to help people find employment (lovely libdem policy), it was presented as a draconian punishment for the workshy (nasty Tory policy).

    We have a serious communications problem.

  • Steve,

    Nice to see your article.
    I am very worried about you. If you are a true christian like you claim, you will know God has a special interest in the affairs of the poor. Be careful what you get roped into. If you have strayed, seek mercy and embrace truth.

  • @steve
    This will be a time-limited four week period of activity that aims to break the spiral of despondency; to get people out of the house, into a routine, put something new on their CV and see that they are contributing to society. It is not intended to be a job in itself, nor as a sneaky way of replacing paid jobs that are being cut elsewhere in the system. Getting someone involved in community work on a committed basis for four weeks will also have an impact on the minority who are quietly working whilst claiming out-of-work benefits.
    If it is designed to help why isn’t it voluntary Steve you are implaying that the long term unemployed are beyond raltional thinking ..which could well be seen as patronising and insulting . being on a forced workplace ment will do nothing for someones Cv thats just silly . If its a job worth doing its a job worth getting the minimum wage for .
    You are insinuating at collective punishment punishing the genuine job seekers to persuade those on the fiddle to sign off .
    How does forced labour on threat of destitution increase someones self esteem steve. ..?

    Whats happened to you steve?? you seem to have falling into the trap of blaming the unemployed for thier lot . shame this could have been quite a good initiative but you and IDS have turned it into a stick to hit the unemployed over the head with?

    You would NEVER have defended such draconian sanctions last year .. whats changed ?

  • @Steve

    There will be no cash losers – where the new, simpler system would produce a lower entitlement than the present system, current recipients will be protected.
    But FUTURE recipients may well get less dont the future unemployed count steve . Why dont you give a more honest assesment and point out who wopuld actually lose out and when .. ????

  • (But there is a risk that the genuine improvement this represents will be lost in problematic details. Benefits being cut by 10% after a year, medicals for disabled people that are not suitable for the job, among others. If we get these wrong we will undo all the good being done by the reforms and undermine public support for the whole thing.)

    Two issues here – one, the guiding rule must be that we ensure those that can’t are fully protected, against those that are playing the system

    two, how much of the flat-sharing rule is really to do with the rents in London when this same rule is unnecessary outside London and the SE – to whit, how much of the problem IS a London/SE problem?

  • I completely agree with Stephen W – good move in general, but with some very problematic details that we (Lib Dems) absolutely have to challenge as this goes through.

  • John – cutting HB by 10% after a year – which is what Stephen W mentioned – is surely not a geographical issue, though? (i.e. it would be a bad idea anywhere!)

  • @Dominic: Thank you for re-posting my comment from yesterday. It saved me the time 🙂

    “We must not cut support for the truly disabled..”

    Sadly, it is already happening. I am dealing with it on a daily basis in my work. These disabled people I work with looked forward to their art sessions with me. It gave them a chance to be social and experience life, even if only for a few hours a week. The people who are dealing with uncertainty right now are fast becoming nervous, scared hollow shells. What is happening to some disabled people is already a travesty. And is set to get worse as the cuts and new welfare reforms hit. And now I hear legal aid is going to be cut in welfare appeals. So, essentially, ATOS and the DWP will be the ultimate decider of someone’s disability. The DWP already tends to ignore statements from GPs and specialists who KNOW the claimant in favour of ATOS’ check-box computer system. Without the legal aid for appeals, disabled people will have to defend themselves. And most of them simply cannot do this..

    This is cruel and inhuman. We were promised a “new politics”. This is nothing more than a continuation of the worst aspects of New Labour.

    Steve, make this stop. Now. For the sake of the disabled, sick and mentally ill. Please. I am pleading with you. These people deserve better and the coalition is delivering worse.

  • I really, really need to hear that Lib Dem ministers are listening with regard to ATOS medicals and other issues facing disabled people.

  • Kurious Oranj 16th Nov '10 - 1:46pm

    Oh my goodness, he’s a christian too? It just keeps getting better.

  • Actually Mr Webb, we’ve been that told the biggest threat facing this country is the deficit,

    The government’s own figures show that benefits-cheats cost the country £1.5 billion per year, but the tax-cheaters are costing the country £42 billion per year.

    Now in theory, there is no reason why you shouldn’t tackle both, but we can all see where the priority lies. However, by shaking-up the welfare state at this time, you are causing uncertainty and fear and that has an impact on the fragile recovery. People have stopped spending again. Is it really worth it for £1.5 billion, when there are much bigger fish to fry? The welfare cheats, annoying that they are, are minnows compared to the tax-cheaters.

  • .
    Let’s see how you’re applying the deficit-reducing measures fairly.

    People are having their wages cut, their local services cut, and their benefits reduced.

    But corporation tax is being reduced, which means shareholders will enjoy increases, since less tax is deducted.

    Tell me again that we’re all in this togther.

  • .
    The richer half of the population are enyoying increases in income and lower property prices.

    Since many of them already have all the things they want, they are spending the money on foreign holidays and overseas villas. The money is flowing out of the country.

    Yet the bottom half of the population, who are having their incomes cut, would spend their money in the local economies and on consumer products and services. The money stays in the country.

    How does your strategy of impoverishing the bottom half and enriching the top half help the recovery?

  • The ATOS medicals are set to get harsher. The panel deciding the medicals under Yvette Cooper had one third ATOS representatives. ATOS have a vested interest in getting people off benefits because of money and they are tendering fror the work placement scheme thereby getting even more money. How is this even legal?
    The backlog of appeals is for new and renewing ESA claimants. The migration from Incapacity Benefit to ESA is only being trialed. There will be massively more appeals and more sick and disabled in fear and poverty which is why Legal Aid is being withdrawn. What employer will want to employ us? How soon before employers get angry that the DWP keep sending people unable to fill their vacancies (if any!!!). i guarantee that the DWP will blame the sick and disabled for not trying hard enough at the interview or for not getting an interview and will withdraw even JSA. because being unable to sweep the streets will be deemed as refusal. Disabled people did not vote Labour because of what they were doing but Lib Dem if anything hoping that you would not allow this to carry on. Look at what Alexander said about ATOS medicals. Instead you have gone along with even worse measures. How you and Duncan Smith claim to be Christians (yet you do not listen to church leaders?) is beyond me but then many atrocities are carried out in the name of religion.
    I have to ask why the bank levy is being reduced yet the poor, sick and vulnerable are suffering the most?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 16th Nov '10 - 2:45pm

    I think it’s very unlikely that Steve Webb will ever see these comments.

  • The first 2 public sector redundancies have been announced……. Cameron’s Photographer and web / video guru have left public service after almost 1 months valuable service. Don’t worry though they will not have to worry about benefit cuts as the Tories are re-employing them directly. Perhaps they have another 500,000 jobs.

    Sorry off topic but amusing……

  • “We have a serious communications problem.”

    I’d say the most serious problem is moral bankruptcy. For explanation see the above comments of the Libdems, who have not ditched all their principles a nd who have a genuine concern for the vulnerable and disabled in our society. They have been shamefully misled by Clegg and Co.

  • Paul Kennedy 16th Nov '10 - 3:13pm

    Well done, Steve, a true Lib Dem.
    At least we know you still believe in universal benefits based on need, and that it is means-testing, arbitrary penalties and other tabloid-pleasing gimmicks which undermine incentives to work, save, and train.
    Don’t be afraid to say so, we are right behind you.

  • George – thanks for the links.

    Sue – speaking for myself (as a Lib Dem with comments above) I don’t consider myself misled at all. I’m glad we went into coalition, and I’d reelect Clegg leader any day. It doesn’t mean I can’t make criticisms where I think there’s criticism to be made.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 16th Nov '10 - 5:24pm

    “I hadn’t realised that. It was obvious from the graphs I’ve seen, that while Universal Credit would lead to some winners, smoothing out the benefits levels would also lead to losers. Unless you were to add billions to the welfare bill, this was inevitable. I’m surprised, and pleased, that you’ve been able to avoid losers among present claimants.”

    What the White Paper actually says is this:
    “No-one will experience a reduction in the benefit they are receiving as a result of the introduction of Universal Credit. At the point of transition onto the new system, those households whose circumstances remain unchanged and who would otherwise experience a reduction in income will receive cash protection.
    … in the long term, some households will be entitled to less under Universal Credit than they would have been had the current benefits and Tax Credits system continued.”

    So there will be a transitional arrangement for “losers” to ensure that their entitlement does not decrease in _cash_ terms. But there is no guarantee it will not decrease in _real_ terms. I presume this means it will actually be frozen for a transitional period until inflation has done its work.

    If that’s the plan, I think it would be better to be clear about it.

  • Sorry Mr Webb but disabled people have been badly let down by this coalition. A wca which hardly recognises disablilty at all. especially mental illness. I know New labour brought the WCA but when demedicalistaion is at the heart of the assessment then it is obvious it is about benefit cuts. Cuts are highlighted in the fact that the government is going to take WRAG cotribution based ESA off the claimant after a year. The unirversal creidt will not come in for existing claimants for at least five years so what will happen in the meantime. I have listed some of the problems below.

    Many people that have been medically retired from work will now lose their benefit if they have occupational pensions etc.

    How many employers have signed up to employ the mentally ill and disabled. 70 per cent of employers will not go near mental illness at all.

    Supermarkets may do with financial incentives thrown at them. Many people with mental illness cannot cope with supermarkets, so who else. The DWP and NHS have a terrible record as do local councils and much of the private sector
    Even in the so called good times. the NHS was even given money for social exclusion and service user involvement but did little in respect of employment. . What will happen is we will be put on workfare and punished for being unemployed. The employers are not onside Mr Webb they are complaining already, whilst society for the past 10 years have scapegoated people and added massive distress on top of illness to our situation

  • Anthony Aloysius St
    Posted 16th November 2010 at 2:45 pm | Permalink
    “I think it’s very unlikely that Steve Webb will ever see these comments.”

    I don’t know about you, sir but I find Danny Alexander comes across as the most out of touch. I don’t think he even batts an eyelid at the thought that he is a LibDem. His astronomical rise has corrupted his moral compass and I am convinced he now totally believes (1) he’s a conservative; and (2) his policies will benefit the poor more than the richer.

    I was watching him on treasury questions today on BBC Parliament and he is such a disgrace. He could not answer one straight question and instead recited from a hymnsheet previously composed by Andy Coulson. I don’t think Mr Alexander, Mr Webb, Mr Hughes and the likes actually take stock of their conduct late at night in the confines of their own thoughts and consider how far they have deviated from what they came into politics for.

    No one ever became a great by being a follower and lacking in principles. Your time in the sun will not last a lifetime and posterity will judge you if you have sold out. Is it really worth it to be just one of the Murdoch Puppets just to have your butt on front bench seats and lose all respect and integrity? Or would you rather be a man of your convictions **take a bow Mr. Bob Russell** and be remembered as a great man of integrity..God knows I would offer to buy Mr Russell a pint where I to ever meet him in a pub.

    I am sure even their wives would have less respect for them for being such turncoats and shabby men: “I thought you said the reason you were going into politics was to fight the cause of the underprivileged and disabled, Steve”

  • I was right. According to the white paper sanctions will be used against ESA claimants (sick and disabled) where their benefits can be withdrawn if for instance they miss an appointment at the Job Centre, miss an employment related programme, miss a work-focused interview or work-related activity eg training
    Sanctions mean a 100% cut until they do what they have been instructed to do by their personal adviser (private company). When they have complied there will be a further one week of a 100% cut for the first ‘offence’. two weeks for the second and three weeks for the third. I presume after that it will be taken away altogether. So sick and disabled unable to get to job centres etc. because of their illnesses/disabilities will in effect starve? Thankyou Mr. Webb.

  • Steve Webb MP 16th Nov '10 - 10:11pm

    Thanks to all for the comments. I think a number of the criticisms are about some of the cuts that are being introduced to tackle the deficit rather than about the Universal Credit proposition which involves spending £2 billion improving the system over the present Parliament. In the midst of the need to cut spending, I think it’s vital to keep a positive reform strategy to make the system better and simpler in the longer run and that is what this is about.

    On the specific issue of the Work Capability Assessment which came up a number of times, there are process of ongoing review of the WCA and a report by Professor Harrington has just been submitted to the DWP. His recommendations will be announced shortly and I understand that the intention is to make positive changes in response.

  • Thank you Steve Webb. Your comment here gives me real assurance as a rank and file Lib Dem member that whatever the difficulties are in dealing with current financial circumstances our Lib Dem MPs really are concerned to do the best for the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

    It is also a huge “raspberry” to all those who have been posting in these forums about what terrible, awful traitors Lib Dems are and how we are really just Tories.

    Thanks, Steve!

  • @Steve Webb MP
    How about answering some of the other points like the reduction in Housing benefit by 10% when unable to find a job for 12 months….

  • The universal credit has some interesting and progressive features, if it wasn’t for the fact that IDS lost this battle with Osborne and it has been kicked into touch so far into the future as to be an irrelevance just now. Next parliament and even 2017 are estimates of when it might be implemented in full if it ever is.

    The £18 Billion in welfare cuts are just that. Cuts.
    I don’t care who spins it otherwise they are not being done to help anyone other than the Conservatives own core voters. They are being done to cut a massive slice of money from welfare and that means from the poor, the disabled and the vulnerable. That was a choice. And it’s a choice Nick has shamefully agreed with.

    The duplicity of trying to claim these Thatcherite attacks on the poor are there to help is shattered by the obvious punitive nature of them excitedly trumpeted in the right wing press.
    Treating the unemployed like convicted criminals with community service is no more Liberal than stopping their benefits for three years or cutting their housing benefits.
    Those who think discretion is a get out of jail free clause seem unaware that discretion works both ways and can lead to hugely unfair decisions as well as good ones.

    This will grow steadily as an issue and will tarnish all Liberal Democrats with Osborne’s vindictive attack on the poor. Our good name for standing up for the vulnerable in society is being smashed to pieces on the altar of Osborne’s return to Thatcherite dogma.

  • “On the specific issue of the Work Capability Assessment which came up a number of times, there are process of ongoing review of the WCA and a report by Professor Harrington has just been submitted to the DWP. His recommendations will be announced shortly and I understand that the intention is to make positive changes in response.”

    Thanks a ray of hope for so many
    I really do hope something ‘positive’ comes out of this report because anyone with a moral compass can see that the current arrangements are causing so much hardship and suffering

  • @RobertC

    “It is also a huge “raspberry” to all those who have been posting in these forums about what terrible, awful traitors Lib Dems are and how we are really just Tories.”

    Thankyou for that, as a disabled person with real fears whose comments you dismiss in this way you actually confirm why people think you are Tory! The fact remains that there should not be sanctions against those on ESA and no amount of raspberry blowing will change my view on that. I really do hope that the WCA is improved but I do not live in hope as any improvement will have to be passed by the coalition. There is not a good track record there on treating the sick and disabled in a compassionate way, we have been attacked and villified since the Budget.

  • @LDV BOb 12.11

    Spot on!!

  • For those interested here is a transcript of an interview with Professor Harringtonon on the very subject of the assessments.

    It makes interesting reading but lets remember whatever his conclusions these will still only be recommendations he’s making. How far he’s willing to criticise the system, if at all, and whether he gets listened too we will have to wait and see. Meanwhile people are still suffering at the hands of a deeply flawed system.

    And here’s an informative related PDF in response to the review.

    Crisis’ response to Professor Harrington’s independent review of the Work Capability Assessment

  • Steve – that’s great news on the likelihood of positive changes regarding the WCA. Thanks.

  • “why is the Lib Dem party allowing the media and their Tory partners to continue to treat the sick and disabled the same way they are treating real scroungers? As a disabled person, the way things are going we may start seeing government posters saying how much disabled people cost the taxpayer – and reasons why these people should not be kept alive”.

    Very good question, The way we are vilified at the moment I’m fully expecting to be required to wear a yellow armband with a wheelchair emblazoned on it on pain of ‘sanctions’

  • If there is the ‘intention’ to improve the WCA why are the trials in Aberdeen and Burnley still going ahead??

  • If, in the coming report it is found that WCA is flawed and needs a major overhaul will those who have been already assessed be re-assessed? or is the intention to get as many as possible through the system before anything changes?

  • @ Matt
    Oh I agree with you but I was making the point that if these trials are still going ahead there is no intention to make it fairer! I certainly do not trust the word of a Lib Dem minister that voted for the housing benefit ‘reforms’ even though he was uneasy about the 10% cut and wil vote for or abstain on tuition fees against a pledge. I think he was trying to fob us off! I’m not falling for it. If he thinks this will stop us raising this issue as often and as loudly as we can, he is mistaken.

  • it’s time for the lib-dems with a heart to show themselves, and say welfare reform that punishes the most vulnerable NOT IN MY NAME…….please find your voices and protect the disabled community before it’s too late. You don’t have to agree with everything the tories say, this isn’t why i and many others voted for you. If you stay silent and vote for these draconian measures this will send a clear message to future voters that they will never forget. Do the right thing now protect the most vulnerable from these measures.

  • Charles Huddleston 17th Nov '10 - 5:27pm

    “The use of sanctions will be up to the discretion of Jobcentre Plus advisers. ” It already is. And IDS made it clear that in his opinion they don’t use them enough. When I worked in that field we had individual performance targets. No doubt they will be mandatory now. Fortunately I now work in a field where I can manage with a clear conscience.

    Oh, and I resigned from the LibDems when Cleggie became the leader because it was clear he was a Tory in cheap clothing.

    Sadly I was proved right.

  • I would like to see the assessments for work capability and ESA reformed.

    The current system is unfair particularly for people who have mental health
    related illness.

  • All the ‘reforms’ mean is that the sick and disabled will be thrown off benefits with a sickly forced smile. The even harsher WCA is still being implemented in March.

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