Welfare reform and Remploy Closures: The Double Edged Sword
What will they do with all those Mobility Scooters?
This government is an absolute disgrace – a non stop onslaught on the vulnerable. In the Autumn statement, benefits are limited to a 1% increase, effectively a cut, given an inflation rate of 2.8%, while simultaneously cutting corporation tax by 1% so the rich benefit. Continuing the deception about the structural deficit, Osborne, seeks to marginalise , stigmatise (1) and further exclude people who are unemployed, many of them suffering illness or facing life with a disability. Indeed, 60% of claimants are in work. This includes people with disabilities, who, with support, wish to take a full part in society. Nothing this government does makes any sense. But to say cuts in benefits are intended to encourage people to work is ludicrous if those are the very benefits which make work a possibility. If Osborne feels people need an incentive to work, why not ensure that there are jobs available for them, and raise pay? Osborne’s solution is to axe public sector jobs and cut pay in real terms. (2)
The Treasury seeks to take back around £2bn (3) (4) cutting the The Disability Living Allowance next year making it much more difficult for those with disabilities to remain independent. Next year, when the DLA is to be replaced by PIP. Some 280,000 people, those in most need will lose support. The allowance pays the extra costs of disability, in or out of work, for personal help, taxis or cars. The cuts will be shocking: 90,000 motability cars and scooters will be repossessed. Many people will therefore face needing to claim unemployment benefit because they are prevented from work.
Hundreds more disabled workers at Remploy factories are at risk of losing their jobs under fresh closure plans, the government announced today. A further 875 employees, including 682 disabled people, have been told they face compulsory redundancy. Ministers announced earlier this year that a number of Remploy factories would close, arguing that the budget for disabled employment services could be spent more effectively. Thirty-four factories have ceased operations since then and are in the process of closing, but the future of a further 18 sites remained unclear. Some of the factories have the potential to move out of government-funded support, but others are set to close, ministers said today.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne called the move a “shameful act from a contemptuous government”. Phil Davies of the GMB union said: “This is devastating news for the disabled workers in Remploy and gives the lie to the chancellor’s claim in his autumn statement yesterday that the vulnerable would be taken care of by the government.”
Around the UK:
- Workers at risk of redundancy are in 15 Remploy factories, with three automotive businesses in Coventry, Birmingham and Derby not included
- The automotive textiles operation at Huddersfield is “not commercially viable” and the factory is proposed for closure
- Staff at the furniture business based in Neath, Sheffield and Blackburn, the marine textiles business, based at Leven and Cowdenbeath and the CCTV business are at risk of redundancy if a buyer cannot be found
- Three other Remploy businesses will be closed because they are not commercially viable and do not have any realistic prospect of being sold as going concerns – E-Cycle based at Porth and Heywood, front-line textiles based at Dundee, Stirling and Clydebank and packaging based at Norwich, Portsmouth, Burnley and Sunderland (BBC) (5)
On our TV screens we see countless adverts from charities tugging at heart-strings (or guilty consciences) interspersed by News items stigmatising anyone who needs the support of others. Illness and disability can happen to any of us. It could prevent us working. Working people make contributions – National Insurance to protect them at times of need. What a shock it will be to find the door slammed shut.
Think Left calls for vocal action from MPs, and has responded to Labour’s recent document, Making Rights for the Disabled a Reality (6)
A review of the shocking process of The Work Capability Assessment was recently published in a People’s Review. (7)
“It is not enough for Government to say that the genuine claimant has nothing to fear. In too many cases, genuine claimants are not scoring any points in their initial assessment. There is something fundamentally wrong with the system and the contract that Atos is delivering. When the British Medical Association votes at its conference to say that the work capability assessment is not fit for purpose there is something wrong with the system.
When up to 40% of appeals are successful and there is no penalty for the company carrying out the assessments, there is something wrong with the contract. When there is no incentive for assessors to get the assessment correct first time, there is something wrong with the contract.
It is time for the Government to act, because there is something fundamentally wrong with the whole system.”
Dame Anne Begg MP, Chair of the Work & Pensions Committee – 4 September 2012
This government, and their policies are based on lies. The policies are ideological by design, and justified by the need to cut the structural deficit, which has been exposed as a myth (8), yet is still reported as fact by the media. Meanwhile, David Cameron is making up his own statistics, and has been rebuked by a watchdog for claiming cuts have not been made to NHS budgets, when ONS statistics say otherwise. (9) He then continues to make the same lie during PMQs. On Education, Gove continues to privatise, and claims improvements without evidence, when his own research shows otherwise, policies based on deception. (10)
If any one of us stood in a court of law and lied, we would be in contempt of court. Yet in the very chamber where laws are made, we have been constantly subjected to deception by those who should be serving and protecting us – that is, after all the purpose of a government, isn’t it?
Make no mistake, deaths will directly result from government policies. Should we sit quietly awaiting tragedy? Why are Liberal Democrats allowing this government to continue (11) with policies to pass laws even more extreme than Thatcher? Isn’t it time for a vote of no confidence in this government? I think so.
Avaaz Petition for No Confidence vote. ( to be sent to Ed Miliband)
- CLASS: The Social State: Exploding the Scrounger Myth
- George Osborne goes for growth (by firing 10,000 civil servants)
- Disability Benefits to be Slashed
- Guardian: Paralympians Disabled Benefits Cut
- BBC News Remploy Factory Closures
- Making Rights for the Disabled a Reality (Think Left’s Response)
- People’s Review of Work Capabilty Assessment : pdf
- Osborne and Cameron’s Big Deficit Myth, Think Left
- Sky News: Government rebuked over claims about NHS spending
- Gove’s Selective Truth, Think Left
- Arguments that every Liberal Democrat would do well to hear, Think Left
- Disabled people ‘should work for less’, says Tory MP www.channel4.com
- Community Care More Pain as Osborne cuts an extra £44 m
It’s already happening. I talk to people everyday, seriously disabled, in dire need unable to claim DLA. I’ve been getting it on an off since 29 but taken constant appeals and problems and years without. Been given it again but my mobility scooter needed £300 worth of repairs and new batteries by that stage and i was without it. It had been dangerous for 2 years before that but no money for repairs. And don’t get me started about all the other disability needs I couldn’t pay for – basics. Good report. Thank you.
Thank you for including our report! Jane Young, wearespartacus.org.uk
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Interesting sadly the closure of Remploy has been an ongoing item since 1999 when labour closed eighteen factories.
“Not commercially viable”. The sad old refrain of capitalism. “Defence” spending is not commercially viable but I do not see them stopping spending here. Neither is nuclear energy. Nor is education. Or so much else.