DWP shrinks from confirming Duncan Smith’s latest ‘workfare’ threat


The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has refused to confirm reports that it plans to force more sick and disabled people into work through its imminent shake-up of employment support.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith referred to the “sickness benefit culture” and issued new hints about the content of a white paper, expected in the next few months, which will set out his plans to reform employment support for disabled people.

The newspaper suggested that Duncan Smith (pictured) wanted people currently claiming employment and support allowance (ESA) – the out-of-work disability benefit – to face a new test that would find out “what they are able to do”.

They would then be “found work for around ten hours a week, or whatever is possible”, while “those who repeatedly refuse could have their support cut”, although “inevitably some claimants will still be judged unable to work at all”, according to the Mail.

It also reports that GPs will be told to “refer the long-term sick to back-to-work programmes”.

Duncan Smith is “particularly keen to target those signed off work with conditions related to their mental health”, the Mail added.

Duncan Smith is reported to have told the Mail: “The sickness benefit culture in this country is in dire need of reform… I want those who remain trapped and isolated on welfare to move from dependence to independence.”

Duncan Smith had already said in a speech last August that he believed there was a “fundamental flaw” at the heart of the ESA system, and that its much-criticised eligibility test, the work capability assessment, was at odds with universal credit, the government’s new, simplified, working-age benefit system.

Disabled activists warned then that they did not believe the government had any intention of designing a new system that empowered disabled people, rather than subjecting them to blame and punishment.

They said they feared and suspected that Duncan Smith’s reforms would be aimed instead at cutting support even further.

The reaction from some activists this week suggests that those fears were justified and that he is planning to introduce a new form of workfare for disabled people previously considered “not fit for work”.

Disabled campaigner and blogger Mx Sumpter, who tweets at @latentexistence, said Duncan Smith’s plans would “turn ESA into JSA [the mainstream out-of-work benefit]”.

Sumpter added: “Where are all these employers that IDS thinks will hire sick and disabled people for 10 hours a week? He means workfare. Tell me how this is different from the Workhouse.”

But when asked to confirm the accuracy of the Daily Mail article, and the comments attributed to Duncan Smith, a DWP spokeswoman said: “The work and pensions secretary of state outlined his intention to reform the WCA in a speech last year.

“Further details will be set out when we publish the white paper.”

She then added lengthy briefing notes containing details of government policies on the WCA and ESA, employment, the government’s Disability Confident scheme, and its target to halve the disability employment gap.

She was asked again to confirm the accuracy of the Daily Mail article and Duncan Smith’s comments, but by noon today (21 January), had failed to do so.

  • Jim Gough

    He won’t rest until hes murdered as many of the sick and disabled as he possibly can. After the Nazi’s ran riot and were beaten the perpetrators of their evils were tried at the Nuremberg trials. I can only hope the same fate awaits this monster when the Tories next lose power (unless of cause the Tories make voting for anybody else illegal!)

  • “Duncan Smith is reported to have
    told the Mail: “The sickness benefit culture in this country is in dire
    need of reform… I want those who remain trapped and isolated on welfare
    to move from dependence to independence.” Isn’t this more or less what he said when he was appointed in 2010? So, apart from cost the country billions of pounds, what’s he done since then?

    • Alison

      hes killed hundreds of thousands of people and destituted millions

  • Justin Greenwood

    the problem with people with mental health issues and sickness is that the scale of illness can also go undetected and there also could be more serious underlying conditions, let not be silly about this, the sad event involving Germanwings where the pilot had a known mental health issue, was hiding all the letter stating this from his employer caused a serious amount of death and heartbreak for a lot of families, here we have a minister who policy have lead to suicides or attempts at self-harm, worsened people conditions by the esa medicals, both of mine went to tribunal, both upheld, i also complained about the atos nurse in question in the first instance as there were irregularities in his medical report.

    the second instance, the nurse also stated he was assessing me for mental health, when it came to the test for anxiety, which is not a proper test, he could not commit to a yes or no answer, he was also asked by me what his qualifications are for assessing a person with mental health issues, his reply four times was i am qualified, . attempts to clarifiyy the qualifications, well with atos were you will need to request this fromthe dwp, as there the employer they must know this?

    I went to the dwp, who said i may go public and wen tto extreme grounds to deny me this information apart to say he did five weeks training at atos, so they can knock out mental health nurses in 5 weeks, perhaps there is a answer to the shortage of nurses with atos! however, the real truth is that the nurse in question is a RGN, not a RMN, they could cross train to assess , however it is highly unlikely, this also brings into the equation that have any of these nurses been CRB2 cleared by atos, again i got stonewalled and lastly as whenever you have areas where you are working with vunerable adults you should have sova training, that also is a questionable area as if any of them did do sova training then they knwo there decisons would affect a person imbalance, it is high time that whatever decisons duncan smith makes, if there the wrong ones then the only person that should carry the responsibilty and if that means a manslaughter charge should be him and he as a minister should be held accountable to public for any erros of judgement in his department and that includes the hiring of the staff who carry out these medicals and to prove that they are consistently fit for purpose.

  • february15

    What is needed is for the whole of the so called charity’s to come together and start fighting for the Disabled instead of doing nothing. Start to ask Questions and knock the DWP down on facts
    not fiction. Why do people give money to these charity’s if they won’t fight for the disabled.
    Disabled people also need to keep the pressure on the charity’s … There is a someone getting a fortune by heading an charity … Make them work for it .

  • paul middleton

    How dare he. these politicians get there dinner payed for them by tax payers. buy houses. and pay for journeys all over the places. they get all kinds of bonuses the amounts of which we wouldnt even see in a year. there using tax money to do there own business and make money then putting them money in off shore accounts and they say the sick are a problem. ian duncan smith is sick [ in the head ] they get £300 just for turning up in the house of commons. while people survive on £50 a week and less. this is so wrong. we are going backwards instead of forwards.

  • Mwxxx .

    >….. to face a new test that would find out “what they are able to do”.

    Dear DWP, here is what I have been “able” to do –

    www -dot- phobosanddeimos -dot- net/the-dwp-and-maximus-no-esa50-fraud/

    And trying to report the criminal abusers here –

    www -dot- phobosanddeimos -dot- net/reporting-dwp-and-maximus-crime-and-abuse/

    But I still haven’t been “able” to update it (all a bit too much) with the dwp criminals crawling back under their rocks or all of the willfully neglectful blind eye turning and course of justice perverting from the rest of those sick criminal abusers… including Ian Duncan Smith and his boss.

    As I still have not, yet, been “able” to get all of those criminals stuffed in prison where they belong does that mean that I am still ‘not fit for work’?

    Where are the police?
    Or do I have to call the police myself the next time you blackmail me in for yet another quack fraudster “test”?


  • Justin Greenwood

    it should be mandatory that any mp who has responsibilities of any kind like this spends a month working in a care background so they can see what it is like before they come up with ill informed decisons, then after this month if they then make them they should be held accountable under the same rules that company directors can come under, in short they should have the immunity from that harms a vunerable adult and that should apply to atos/maximus staff as well as the decision maker at the DWP

  • Wayne Leon

    It is about bloody time the whole country got together against Smith and the Tory Party as a whole over the thousands of innocent deaths they have caused due to their ‘death’ policies. Smith has the absolute nerve to buy his breakfasts using our money, he uses our money for his travel, he lives rent free, he uses our money to purchase his underwear, while at the same time, denying vulnerable people the very money they need to exist.

    No doubt whatsoever in my mind that this ‘man’ [ for want of a better word] has long since given up his ‘care of duty’ that every Government Minister should have [ and, indeed, that the Government itself should have too] to very vulnerable British citizens.

    Furthermore I have no doubt whatsoever that all those involved within Welfare, should be charged with the wilful Corporate Murder of their own people. Smith, Cameron and every area manager up and down the country within the DWP should be dragged to the Hague for the thousands of innocent deaths they have already caused.

    It is about bloody time that a human rights lawyer who is expert within this field, gives up her or his time to pursue the case against this heinous Government as a whole, and Cameron, Smith, McVey in particular [even though she is not in Government now] and also the rest of them too. This will at least,give a ‘voice’ to those who do not have a voice within Parliament.

    The WCA should be scrapped with immediate affect, as should the Bedroom Tax too, as they have caused nothing but death and despair to people up and down this land. And when Government Policies cause the DIRECT DEATHS of people, then those policies are NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE!

    Until Government Ministers who seem to forget that they actually ‘work’ for us, the people’ understand the depth of seething anger over what they have done, and until they are dragged to court over this, they will continue to do what they do with impunity.