Saturday, February 02, 2008

GPs are corrupt, the disabled are lazy and the market works

You have to attack benefit scroungers don't you? After all what makes the great great is the smallness that surrounds them. It's common place for people to say that Labour steal Tory policies but the truth is they are perfectly capable of finding their own way to Satan's nether regions. Take David Freud, the government's new welfare advisor, who has made a vicious attack on those on incapacity benefit today - and in the process accused thousands of GPs of corruption.

I mean this is better than porn for New Labour. They get to trump Cameron's attacks on welfare claimants, put the boot into the sick *and* the health profession - if only there was a sack full of kittens to drown they'd have the whole set.

The Telegraph screams at us that 1.9 million on benefit should "get back to work", demonstrating their admirable commitment to recycling the same headline for forty years. What makes it different this time is that they are supporting a Labour government scapegoating sick people. I mean if the Telegraph approves of your approach to some of the most vulnerable in society shouldn't that make you reconsider? Surely that's a warning sign to any *progressive* government.

Freud claims that two thirds of claimants are defrauding the tax payer by pretending to be ill, and a large proportion of them are working on the side to boot. First he outlines the wonderful promised land of wealth and plenty that is living on incapacity benefits; "You get more money [than unemployment benefit] and you don't get hassled, you can sit there for the rest of your life." That sounds great doesn't it? Sitting there, for the rest of your life, on a weekly income that is just a sliver above the official poverty line. It's something that millionaires like Freud must dream of enviously.

Then he goes on to accuse GPs of corruption, signing people off they know not to be incapable. He says "It's ludicrous that the disability tests are done by people's own GPs" rather than whom I wonder? Perhaps we could have health assessments done by MacDonalds? Damn, I shouldn't give them ideas.

For Freud life is terribly simple. "If you're disabled, work is good for you" which I suppose is just as well because "People refusing to co-operate and find a job will have their benefits "sliced" under the plan to get about 1.4 million people back to work. The system should be in place within five years, he said." How fortunate that doing what is good for you helps you simultaneously avoid being made destitute by our benign government.

I know what you're thinking. This is a sensitive subject that needs to be handled by professionals with an objective opinion on someone's capacity to work. Allow me to set your mind at rest. "Under [Freud's] review, the private sector is to be brought in to run large sections of the welfare system." The icing on the cake is that Freud is proposing that the companies be given payment by results, for everyone they crowbar off benefits they'll get a bonus - I can see their stock options rocketting now. Let's just be thankful that the private sector have our interests at heart rather than their own profitability.

Freud, a city investment banker, has been brought in in the post-Hain era to bring an edge of "single-minded ferocity" to the welfare system. As an investment banker Freud is probably well placed to understand how to make a profit out of any system - but it seems unlikely that he has much truck with Social Democratic values of a welfare state that serves the ordinary citizens of this country.

Interestingly he told the Telegraph "I didn't know anything about welfare at all when I started, but that may have been an advantage." Can I venture the opinion that it probably is not an advantage if you're an advisor on welfare not to know anything about welfare? I mean if his sole advise is going to be "how much money can we make out of this" I suspect this thought had already crossed the Labour government's mind.

Louise has posted today about his boss Purnel and says "At the core of Purnell’s vision is people selling themselves for cheap labour for any old job and if they don’t then they “will face sanctions“. The welfare state will continue to be marketised and privatised." There's the rub.

If you're poor you'd better shut up and do what you're told. Too sick to work? Stop malingering. Don't want to work in a chicken factory... why not own one instead? Next on Freud's hit list are lone parents, man, it's like living through the John Major years all over again.


Dorothea said...

Unlike Mr Freud, I know plenty about benefits, having left school in the 1980s and dropped off the jobs bandwagon then. Luckily the Tories gave us plenty of free and fun courses to do, and there wasn't much hassle for people on Supplementary Benefit / Income Support until the mid 1990s.

By the time I did get a series of crap jobs, the Labour Party came in with all the "Right to Work" bull, and they made being on Income Support / JSA a whole lot harder.

The sad fact is that lots of people who don't want jobs have been allowed to shift onto "The Sick", thus saving them from working, and allowing Labour to fiddle the figures.

What does grate, is when you have someone you know come up to you, as I have had, and laugh at you for getting a badly paid job, boasting how they've lied to get sick benefit, and how you're a fool for not doing the same!

Jim Jay said...

That sounds thoroughly unpleasant doreathea, sorry you went through that, although of course getting a job that might not be of that much financial benefit to you today is often the thing people need to do to make themselves employable for a better paid job later on. So your 'friend', should it need pointing out, is probably not that bright.

Anyway, you're right that in order to manipulate the dole figures the Tories encouraged people to go onto incapacity and disability benefits so they are complicit in any repurcussions that may have had.

I think we also need to recognise that if we decide to specialise in low paid, low skilled labour there are going to be a number of people are less than inspired by thew whole thing.