For some time it has been the government’s policy that it is good for people with disabilities to have a job, earn money, take themselves out of poverty and dependency. (Not that having a job in the UK does any of these things, but we are talking about the UK government here, so don’t expect any kind of sense or decency.)
There was nothing stopping people, they reckoned, getting out there and getting on with it. And so they redesigned the medical examinations system for Disability Benefits.
Instead of looking at a person’s illness or disability, considering how they would manage a job and whether they would be likely to be offered a job, or whether their disability would be considered too much of a liability to a potential employer, they looked at whether or not a person was capable of doing anything at all, whether or not anyone would be likely to employ them to do it.
If they could walk a few steps, sit up, move even a little, that was it. Off disability benefits and onto the lower paid job seeking benefits. The real, indeed the only, aim was to save money.
We’ve all seen the ridiculous examples of people whose disabilities make it hard enough just to get through the day without having a job to do, being taken off their benefits and told to look for work. And it is interesting that over 50% of those who appeal against that withdrawal, have the decision overturned by the legal system (which, unlike Jobcentre and the private companies it employs to carry out these tests, does not have targets to fulfil).
So, until recently the government was blaming disabled people for scrounging from the system and being a burden to the country.
Now, apparently, thanks to the drive to get people with disabilities into work, more people with disabilities are working. So is the government happy?
Britain has a productivity problem. Brits simply produce less per man hour than workers in other large economies. I’d say there were a large number of reasons for this.
British infrastructure is poor; connectivity is abysmal; management is crap; employee incentives, at the bottom end of the market, are dismal. I’ll stop there because I’m running out of negative adjectives, but you get the drift.
Dead end jobs with no security, short-term and zero-hours contracts, bad management, wages which leave people having to collect social security top-ups, firms struggling to get things moved or to do business on a slow (and sometimes non-existent internet or mobile phone cover) are all either disincentives to hard work or blocks to achievement.
Many people hate their jobs and hate their employers, are bored and dissatisfied. They know they may not be there this time next month. Why would they work hard?
But dear old Philip Hammond (we call him Smiler Hammond at Munguin Towers for his cheery smile and jolly ways) has decided that these things aren’t the real reason for the fact that we get precious little done here.
No no no. Having blamed people with disabilities for not working and causing problems for the economy, he’s now going to blame them for working, and causing problems for the economy.
Yep, that’s right. Britain’s productivity crisis is about the fact that more people with disabilities are working, but presumably not at the pace that able-bodied people would work… QED. Seems if you have a disability, it’s going to be your fault, one way or another.
Come on people, let’s get the hell out of this sickening country while we can.