Conservative conference: Ministers return to same old story of benefits abuse


Ministers have used their party’s annual conference to reinforce the message that many disabled people claiming out-of-work benefits are “abusing” the system.

Iain Duncan Smith told the Conservative conference in Manchester that his party had promised to “start dealing with” the numbers of people on long-term incapacity benefit (IB) which he said was “too often abused as an excuse for avoiding work”.

He added: “Those genuinely unable to work will of course always be supported. However, those who can work will look for work and join the Work Programme and others who could work in the future will actually get the tailored support that they need.”

He pledged that the party’s “contract with the British people” would “bring an end to the ‘something for nothing’ culture. That’s a promise we made and a promise we are delivering.”

The previous evening, at a fringe event, Duncan Smith said that more regular assessments of disabled benefits claimants would “help set the story straight”, and demonstrate that those who receive the benefits deserve them.

He added: “There is a sort of nagging sense that some of that is abuse.”

Chris Grayling, the employment minister, told the main conference that the government wanted to “tackle Britain’s incapacity benefit culture”.

He said: “Where people genuinely cannot work, they will continue receiving unconditional support from the state.”

He said there was “no group who are more in the thoughts of the Department for Work and Pensions than the disabled”.

Duncan Smith also stressed in the fringe meeting that the assessment for the new personal independence payment (PIP) – the planned replacement for disability living allowance – would be more of a “lifestyle” assessment, whereas the work capability assessment (WCA), which has come in for heavy criticism from many disabled people, was “essentially a health assessment”.

He said: “We have not absolutely put out the exact nature of how it will work but you should rest assured that you should recognise it is fundamentally different [from the WCA].

“The checks or the interviews are going to be fundamentally different.”

4 October 2011

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