The DWP just got busted over ESA cuts and its reaction was appalling.
As you will know if you’ve been following along and if you’re involved in ESA and in the Work-Related Activity Group, then you will know that a couple of years ago, our brilliant or not so brilliant Government voted to remove £29 a week from people’s claims, which means you would have lost £29 a week for nothing.
Lots of MPs voted for this, including a long list of Tories, which just reinstates just what the Government think of people in general, and the way they will just do whatever they want regardless of any consequences to the people that aren’t receiving that money anymore in the name of austerity and forcing people to get a job that are disabled.
And there is this alleged idea from people that lots of people on benefits are on benefits because they believe it’s not worth working, that they get far too much money, and that they should be working, whether they’re disabled or not.
People out there are also saying that there’s no motivation, and of course, this rubs off because it’s also the Government saying it, and of course, this is not completely accurate.
But now all those lovely people who voted Tory then had to claim Universal Credit in the summer because they were out of a job and then found out how little money people actually get on benefits, which is partly why the Government gave them an extra £20 a week.
Now let’s get back to the Work-Related Activity Group and you’ll see that the excuse is mind-boggling.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has just dug itself a gigantic hole and recent revelations forced it to alter official records, but its revised response made it look worse, and it left more questions than answers. Not least, what have people died for?
As the Canary reported, the DWP has been tying itself in knots over Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
In 2017, it cut the percentage of the money it gave claimants in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG). This was about £29 per week.
This group is for people who the DWP says should be moving back into work, but usually, these claimants live with illnesses or impairments.
At the time, the Tories and the DWP said the cut was to stop giving sick and disabled people financial incentives not to work.
The then chancellor George Osborne called these incentives perverse and the DWP also said cutting the WRAG would save money – this was when austerity was in full flow and its financial projection said cutting the WRAG rate would claw back just over £1 billion in four years, but it also declared it would plough in £330 million to support claimants into work.
Trampling over dead bodies. Sound perverse? It gets even more despicable.
The DWP cut WRAG money knowing death percentages in the group were soaring, and by 2016 after it completed the cut, claimants in WRAG died at a ratio of 7.7 per 1,000.
But then the Government do love stealing money from those at the bottom and giving it to those at the top for mass failure, no questions asked.
Now it’s raised its ugly head again, but this time the story has got even more hideous.
On the 20 January, DWP minister Justin Tomlinson answered an MPs question. It was about how much money the WRAG cut saved the DWP – he said there were no savings from trimming the WRAG rate.
He said there were no savings from the removal of the Employment and Support Allowance Work-Related Activity Component for new claims from April 2017.
This change allowed the department to recycle money into delivering practical support that would make a significant difference in the life chances of those in the Work-Related Activity Group.
He said that this change enabled the department to recycle money into delivering practical support and that they’d invested £330 million over 4 years with 100 million available in 2020/2021, that would support those with limited work capacity to move towards and into suitable employment.
The Canary spotted this, and they thought the answer was dodgy. This is because the DWP initially said the cut would save over £1 billion.
So, on Wednesday 22 January, they asked the DWP about this claim. It took until late Friday 24 January to get its act together and give an answer.
The DWP changed Tomlinson’s written response in the official records, and it went from no savings from the cut to this.
A mistake has been identified in the written answer given on the 20 January 2020 and the data requested on the savings accrued from the removal of the Work-Related Activity Component (WRAG) was not available.
It would incur an unnecessary expense to compute any actual net savings from the removal of the WRAG and that when the WRAG was removed, they made a clear commitment to instead deliver practical support that would make a significant difference to the life chances of those in the Work-Related Activity Group, and that they’d been investing an extra £330 million over 4 years to support those with limited work capacity to move towards and into suitable employment.
Then, the DWP gave the Canary a comment and said that this had nothing to do with the WRAG cut and that it was just more claims about how much cash it spends on sick and disabled people.
They said that they would spend £55 billion on benefits to help sick and disabled people and people with health needs.
This is up £10 billion in real terms since 2010 and is about 2.5 per cent of GDP, and over 6 per cent of Government spending.
Talk about lip service. But the DWP’s change to parliament’s records has opened a can of worms and its new answer poses numerous, worrying questions, such as how did Tomlinson make such a mistake about savings?
Why did the DWP forecast over £1 billion of savings from the WRAG cut? If it doesn’t know the savings now, how did it know in 2015/2016?
What made the DWP alter the wording on the £330 million savings?
Tomlinson first said it was invested from the recycled WRAG savings. It then changed to additional investment.
This gives the impression the money was not from the WRAG cut – so which is it?
If the £330 million wasn’t from the WRAG cut, where’s people’s £29 a week loss since April 2017 gone? What has the DWP done with the £1 billion of people’s money? And would have the DWP changed Tomlinson’s response if the Canary hadn’t caught them out?
Either Tomlinson and the DWP are oblivious or they both told an outright lie, but the DWP’s possible deception is not the worst of this.
The DWP has gone on official record to say it it doesn’t know how much money the WRAG cut saved and that if they believe it, then the fallout should be damning because what it’s actually saying is that it cut sick and disabled people’s money and that it cut their money in the name of austerity.
The DWP took money from people because let’s face it, they thought those people on benefits were scroungers, but now, it can’t say how much money was saved. So, what’s the point of austerity been? And why did the Tories cut public spending to save money if they then didn’t know if it had even saved anything?
By this logic, the DWP and Tories have put people through torture for no reason, and people have died against a backdrop of public finance penny pinching, and our vile politicians and civil servants can’t even do them the decency of saying if their dead bodies have saved money.
It’s an utter disgrace, stacked on top of a cliff of disgraces from this despicable department, but now all their wrongdoing has come out and this is just the beginning of exploring the truth for people that need assistance but are being forgotten by the Tory government, Boris Johnson and MPs alike.
So, Boris Johnson, where has all this money gone, and what was it spent on? And we shouldn’t be shocked because austerity isn’t about saving money, it never was, it’s just an excuse to do away with citizens whom the Government and others decide are not worthy.
They have a considerable number of people to do away with, at least a third of the population globally and they have all these shiny new playthings to try out just for that objective.
Austerity is just the method and excuse they use to confound people into believing it’s all a mishap. This is just a cover-up for wiping out what they believe are undesirables, and it really has very little to do with sorting out the finances of this country, and a whole lot more to do with the legal murder that they can hide in plain sight.