A Tale of Two Societies

by Sandra Webster

It is ironic today when an Oxfam report tells a sorry tale of the inequalities of wealth on a global scale 1% owe 99% of the world’s resources, that we have to report the latest government attack on the most needy in our society. It is us who have to endure the cuts and now people on Employment Support Allowance (ESA), the sick and disabled are being attacked.

Picture: Oxfam GB
Picture: Oxfam GB

This is not new news like a series of other measures it was sneakily sent out before Christmas. Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, claims existing work capability tests are too “binary”, depending on the outcome folk will be placed in the support group where they are not expected to find work and the work related group where folk are encouraged to look for work.

Therefore, the Tories goalposts have changed yet again with Iain Duncan Smith saying that the majority of people are capable of some kind of work. The plan is to make all ESA claimants work at least 10 hours a week or risk losing their benefit. Everyone on ESA is being reviewed at the moment, with the government hoping for £230m worth of cuts.

This government has already been criticised for the undue pressure it puts on people with disabilities. Some 600 folk have committed suicide after being found fit for work. This latest move has been criticised by many groups for continuing the pressure on the most vulnerable. Note that David Cameron has so much cognitive dissonance to his pledge to, “protect the most needy”.

The Scottish Parliament's Welfare Reform Committee
The Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee

The Smith Commission promised to devolve disability issues to the Scottish Government – many people with disabilities look to them for support and a different way. I hope they deliver. The whole “it is Westminster’s fault”, “No – its Holyrood’s fault” false arguments are just a way of shifting blame. Enough of party tribalism, support the most vulnerable or get organised and stand with people with disabilities. So many of my own “red lines” have been crossed that I resemble a maths jotter, but this is one area where we must make a stance. Let us not leave so many to the evils of this Tory government. Why should we pay when those with the deepest pockets continue to make a profit out of poverty? All for a kinder, fairer society.

Sandra Webster is the national co-spokesperson of the Scottish Socialist Party

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