Teresa Catto-Smith
Teresa Catto-Smith campaign leader

#PatsDebate - The WRAG - A Ticket To Nowhere

+ PATS DEBATE – the WRAG – a ticket to nowhere
December 9th, 2012
ESA WRAG is a ticket to nowhere.
CarerWatch hope that Employment Support Allowance (ESA) will be put fully under the microscope for the first time in Pat's Debate.

In particular that speakers will look at the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) and tell the real truth about it.

The government should admit that the WRAG is not about finding work. The WRAG is simply about moving sick and disabled people from an unconditional benefit to a means tested benefit to save money.
Four fifths of sick and disabled people will be allocated to the WRAG on migration from IB. It's becoming clear that ESA is an out of work benefit like JSA. It wasn't protected from the inflation cap in the Autumn Statement. You are expected to find work.

It treats people as effectively fit and time limits them to a year before means testing. The feature that terrifies most disabled people is the coercion in the Work Programme with forced work placements and sanctions for non compliance. It is unfair to force these decisions on disabled people if you haven't walked in their shoes.

The cover story is that these people are on their way to work when in fact only 1.5% of sick and disabled people are finding work through the Work Programme in the WRAG.

The WRAG is a confidence trick for moving to means testing disability support.

Can speakers in this debate be the first to be honest about this?

The heart ache over the WCA tests is really located in what the future holds when you are allocated to the WRAG.
ESA WRAG is a ticket to nowhere.

Already people are saying that after testing, failing, appealing, succeeding, retesting, failing, sanctions, Work Programme, when the means test is looming and they know they will not get any more support – they give up and drop out.

Don't let the people who give up and walk away count as people who disappeared and probably got jobs. They didn't. They just gave up.

+ The WRAG is a JSA group
November 21st, 2012
Commenting on Professor Harrington's latest report the Minister for Employment, Mark Hoban, said:
"The WCA is the right process for determining who is able to work and who needs support. It is in everyone's interest to make sure the system is as fair and as accurate as possible. "

Once again the Minister is completely missing the point. The government has decided that four fifths of people who used to receive Incapacity Benefit are now fit for work. This has been decided not by tests but as a matter of policy. The tests are a fig leaf to legitimise this decision and present them with the news. The terms 'fair' and 'accurate' do not apply.
People who are able to work go on to JSA. People who are sick or have a disability are meant to go on to the Employment and Support Allowance but they don't except for a minority who go in to the small residual ESA Support Group. Where do the others go? In to the ESA Work Related Activity Group (WRAG).
This is a trick. The WRAG is described as an ESA group but is in all but name a JSA group. There they will be harried by forced activity and sanctions and then timed out just like a JSA group. Effectively they are being required to work.
It would be more honest if the government stopped hiding behind a testing system and just announced that in future four fifths of sick and disabled people are now going to be treated as fit people.
- http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/nov/30/sick-disabled-work-benefits-programme?INTCMP=SRCH

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