Work is “like health treatment” says Iain Duncan-Smith

Iain Duncan SmithThe Gainsborough Standard reports:

Iain Duncan Smith has defended plans to get the sick and disabled back to work amid allegations that he is “punishing” society’s most vulnerable.

The Work and Pensions Secretary insisted being employed was like a “health treatment” and could help make people better.

He also denied that he had a target of taking a million disabled people off benefits, arguing it was sensible to ask whether individuals could do some work rather than writing them off altogether.

In an interview with the Press Association after delivering a speech in central London, Mr Duncan Smith said: “The present system of sickness benefit has a problem. It has at its heart a test that asks a simple question – are you too sick to work or can you work full time?

“My answer is, that is the wrong question. Labour started this process and it has never quite worked in that regard.

“Quite often people want to work if they are on the sickness benefit, but they cannot work because they are not allowed to otherwise they lose their benefits.

“So we want to look at a process that allows us to be able to assess them properly, ask what can you do not just what can’t you do.

“And actually then be able to say, ‘look we want to get the right support for you and enable you to stay in touch with the world of work’.

“Work is actually a health treatment in a sense. Those who are in work tend to be better and those who are out of work, on sickness benefit, tend to get their conditions worse.

Asked how he would reasssure Employment Support Allowance (ESA) claimants that they would be fairly treated following heavy criticism of work capability tests, Mr Duncan Smith said: “The system will be about what can you do rather than what can’t you do. That’s the big change I want to make.

“I want to feel that we are saying to people, so you have a particular problem, what does that mean for you in terms of work?

“Can you do certain hours, can you do certain types of work? We will figure out what you can do and then help you get jobs that are able to do that.”

You can read the full article here.

Sophie Corlett from the mental health charity MIND has commented on Iain Duncan-Smith’s speech today as follows:

We would welcome any move by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to genuinely improve the support given to help people with mental health problems back to work. The current system is failing this group, with only about 8 per cent of people who are supported by the benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) being helped into work through the Government’s flagship Work Programme. We’ve long been calling for a complete overhaul of the system to take into account and address the barriers that people with mental health problems face in getting into and staying in jobs.

What people need is support. What they don’t need is more pressure and sanctions. Threatening to punish people by cutting their benefits when they fail to do certain mandatory activities has a negative effect on people’s mental health, and actually pushes people further from work; it is hugely counterproductive.

We have been calling on the DWP to address these issues for a number of years and will be keen to work with Ministers to improve the support available, but only if they are serious about making the huge changes necessary to fix this broken system. They need to listen to the challenges people with mental health problems face in finding and retaining work, and create support that helps to overcome these challenges, rather than simply placing more pressure on people to find work.

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10 Comments

  • … If only his department wouldn’t go behind his back and send out unauthorised endorsements from false claimants we’d all see what a reasonable man that Mr. IDS really is….

  • Richard Underhill 24th Aug '15 - 5:51pm

    David Cameron was asked at PMQ whether he could confirm that ATOS had passed Richard the Third as fit for work.

  • Richard Underhill 24th Aug '15 - 5:59pm

    IDS is a former leader of the Tory party, a quiet man, succeeded by Michael Howard without a general election or a leadership election. IDS supported Tony Blair on Iraq.
    Anne Widdecombe MP said that Michael Howard had “something of the night about him”. She has not got a peerage from David Cameron.

  • So no Op-Ed about this? Just a very neutral News item. Do the Lib Dems have no opinions on the Tories? They seem to have plenty on the Labour Party. Is this what Tim Farron meant by saying he was leading ” being the only party of opposition”? Tame!

  • For someone who spent nearly 30 years assisting people with a disability into work, I would suggest that more thought should be given to the definition of suitability to work. From the early days of creating a Seciom 2 disability managed by local employment officers there were wide discrepancies between areas. Remploy initially was founded to support working age people returning from the war, but the weakness of that system was that in 90 plus units, it could only offer work to those whose abilities matched those required in those factories ie Sewing in Portsmouth.When later it became obvious that this was both a costly and left thousands without hope in those areas that had no factory,an increasing number of jobs were negotiated with industry and commerce.But it was still difficult to get understanding from those tasked to identify people who required support or even to understand what their needs were.Increasingly the integration of people with disability became the norm although educating some companies into what this required kept progress at a slower rate than could have been achieved.
    My concern about the latest IDS uttering is that both the assessments are unrelated to job opportunity, at its simplest matching ability to task which has been identified,not some general idea. Many more could be employed if we had trined employment officers, properly trained and maybe the return of a quota system rewarding employers who provide worthwhile prospects and seeking contributions from those who dont

  • jedibeeftrix 24th Aug '15 - 9:23pm

    Richard, fascinating, but what exactly are you trying to tell us?

  • Nick Tregoning 25th Aug '15 - 9:50am

    Of course a suitable flexible job with an understanding employer, and a supportive work environment doing something productive, and achieving challenges would be good for somebody with mental health needs, and would aid recovery. So far, so obvious. The thing is, that’s not what this odious little man intends. His intention is only and solely to slash the cost of paying benefits to the sick, and his warm words about assistance into suitable work will be the only thing that the sick and disabled will get from him. The IDS idea of help will involve seeking to force people into unsuitable jobs with insufficient support and assistance so that they can be sanctioned at the earliest possible opportunity. Strange how the Tory approach to motivating people is always to get the rich to work you pay them more, but to get the poor to work you pay them less.

  • Chris Randall 25th Aug '15 - 10:45am

    I have listened and heard his comments without wishing to invoke Godwin, it sounds to much like,

    “Work will make you free.”

  • The only objective is to carry on removing welfare from the most vulnerable by imposing sanctions. Many disabled work or would like to if they could however sick people are not differentiated from disabled, there is a difference. Disabled people are not necessarily sick and vice versa. Employers would not like sick people collapsing at work and/or unable to work as they need them to and therefore do not employ them. The DWP will blame the sick person. Chris Randall, the stigma and derision meted out for raising Godwins law has enabled this. Turning a blind eye as in the past has enabled this, nobody ever learns do they?

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