Its Pick-on-the-sick-time Again!

Incapacity Benefit is a horrible, cruel and devilish benefit.

It isn't a benefit in need of reform, it is a benefit that needs to be abolished and replace with a new system that is more appropriate to the needs of those who live with ill health or with a disability.

It is a negative benefit, because it underlines what a person can't do rather than what s/he can do.

Many people will be faced with a situation where illness or disability prevents them from continuing with their former careers. If a person loses a job in these circumstances that person will be entitled to incapacity benefit, but once one becomes entitled to IB they are placed into a category that says they are incapable of doing ANY work, not just their former work.

IB makes people ill.

Most of us have heard of the placebo effect, where taking a sugar pill makes patients better because they believe that something is being done to make them better.

The opposite of placebo happens too.

If you concentrate on the downside of an illness, mope about how bad things are and count your curses rather than your blessings, then you will become more ill than you need to be. By its negative emphasis on incapacity by encouraging people to look at the downside, IB can make people more ill than they need to be.

IB discourages people from attempting to improve their own health. There is a very unfunny joke that says that if Jesus went to Merthyr curing the lame and the sick he would be crucified by the benefits claimants. Unfunny it may be, but it makes a point:

If you lose your job because of ill health you are entitled to IB, you will be paid a bit more than those who are on job-seekers allowance. If you get better you lose your entitlement to IB and have to go onto the lower benefit. With little prospect of gaining a new job in the IB hot-spot areas you will, in effect, be punished for getting better.

There was a recent case in Pembrokeshire of a man who had suffered a genuine serious illness claiming benefits. His doctor told him to exercise in order to restore his health. He was filmed exercising and prosecuted for benefit fraud. The man might have been better off if he had ignored his doctor's advice and hadn't bothered with the health improving exercise regime.

Incapacity Benefit replaces the benefits of getting better!

The worst thing about IB is the fact that it is a benefit that is so often abused, not by those who claim it but by governments.

From Thatcher through Major, Blair and Brown, governments have urged people to accept this negative health benefit rather than unemployment benefits because the sick and disabled don't count in official unemployment totals. It is a good benefit for massaging true unemployment figures.

It is also a good benefit for vicious political rhetoric that points the finger at the sick and disabled who receive it and show them up to be examples of those who are too lazy to get of their backsides and help themselves.

Is there an easer group to kick than those that benefits policies have brought so low?

The latest Government Green Paper aimed at “tackling” Incapacity Benefit is at least the fourth attempt by the Labour Government to deal with the problem. We had a similar Green Paper almost two years to the day ago!

The latest proposals are just finger pointing rhetoric again, rather than a real attempt to deal with a real problem.

It will fail because finger pointing exercises are bound to fail.

The fact is that the majority of people on IB are genuinely ill.

Look at the IB hot spots and compare their life expectancy rates! People die younger in these areas because of poor health!

Much has been made over the past few weeks about the fact that Glasgow East has both the lowest life expectancy in the UK and the highest rate of IB claims – the people of Glasgow East are not dying young in order to fiddle the social, they are dying young because of genuine poor health!

Of course something must be done for the 3 million people who receive this sickening benefit.

People suffering from poor health need help to fulfil their full potential.

Comprehensive health improvement campaigns that are not linked to benefit reduction are needed in the most deprived areas.

Good employment prospects need to be made available for those wishing to leave health based benefits.

But no government will provide the real answer to the real problem, because the real answers are not cheep and they don't appeal to Sun, Express and Daily Mail readers.

It is so much easier to leave the poor, the sick and the disabled on the scrapheap, to point fingers and to call names!


  1. Dang, we have the same problem here in the U. S.! Governments get too huge to be flexible. Everyone is created equal but get screwed up differently along the way.

  2. With regard to the case in Pembrokeshire, I rather suspect some dodgy shenanigans there. Keith was a member of the Labour Party and the Mayor of Pembroke at the time the allegations hit the news, and was about to stand in a ward in Pembroke against one of the ruling Independents. You are quite right in what you say though: he had been desperately ill, terminally as far as I know, but like many people who are he has periods of relative able-bodiedness.

    The whole system is a mess, you're quite right. And I don't even want to get started on the cases where one partner in a couple becomes ill and no help is offered at all because it is presumed that the working partner will support the sick one, regardless of the tenure or the state of the relationship...

  3. Well done sir. Great Post.
    People who are sick or disabled are surplus to requirement.
    Labour are doing there own little half-baked polls about opinions to those who are not employed.
    I have friends who are routinley given a very hard time because of disability.
    One lady has tenosynovitus and cannot use her hands very well. she is picked on and her money is in jeopardy.
    Thew DWP are a corrupt lot. from Peter hain down to the mid management diva fiddling about with peoples lives...

  4. why pick on any one, just sort out the economy , create some decent jobs and give people some bloody hope back

  5. "..With regard to the case in Pembrokeshire, I rather suspect some dodgy shenanigans there. Keith was a member of the Labour Party and the Mayor of Pembroke at the time.."

    Might I point out that "Keith" was claiming that he was unable to walk, or even wipe his bottom.
    From the "Guardian" at the time of his trial...
    "falsely claiming benefits of £9,233 between July 2005 and May 2007. Magistrates heard yesterday that McNiffe had officiated at 67 football matches over two seasons while claiming disability and care benefits at the highest level. To qualify as a referee, he would have had to pass rigorous fitness tests, including running 2,400 metres in under 12 minutes and doing timed 200-metre and 50-metre sprints."
    (M.O.F.) Please excuse me using your blog space to clear up the comments by Ms Ashley, but no, no, no, the case was not about politics, it was about a fraudster being apprehended.
    Incidently, whilst talking of civic leaders in Pembrokeshire... what about the headmaster of Pembroke dock primary school, Mr David Thorley,
    Fired recently, for fiddling with the children, again, with a total of 19 provable offences.
    Messed up and mixed up, and with the obvious result that for many children and adults in Pembrokeshire, respect and trust for the leaders of our society is one of contempt.

  6. "Billy Bob" (also equally described I suspect by the term "anonymous troll" since his link goes to a completely unrelated youtube clip of Lee Evans):

    I am no great mate of the Labour Party in Pembs or Keith McNiffe himself, but I was just pointing out that it's a bloody big coincidence, isn't it, that he was only filmed and grassed up just before nomination papers were available for the county council elections he was planning to wipe out one of the tory/independent yes-crew at? And as a matter of interest he wasn't qualified as a referee, he was acting as a linesman at small games. And he had had terminal cancer and yeah ok he probably should have told the authorities how much better he was coping but he was still far from well - in fact his doctor had recommended the linesman gig to him as a way of easing himself back into exercise for the good of his health. All in all it's just not as cut and dried as you're making out. But then it wouldn't make as good a story in the Guardian if they reported on it in a balanced way and tried to look into why he had the benefits in the first place, would it?

    As for the headteacher at the school in pembroke dock, yes it's a travesty that a previously charged schedule one offender be put back in a position working with kids, but what the hell does that have to do with either MOF's original post or my comment? Unless you're just trying to ram home the point that authority figures in Pembs are contemptible, lazy, mutually backscratching old boys in which case might I point out that I already know this and that's why I'm a committed Lib Dem activist here.