Mandatory work for sick people

The Telegraph reported two weeks ago – I commented on it then – that the government was considering extending work tests for sick people. Yesterday the DWP announced “voluntary” work placements, but added: “As well as voluntary work experience, in some situations, having taken into account an individual’s circumstances, a Jobcentre Plus adviser or Work Programme provider may feel that an appropriate mandatory work placement – which must be of benefit to the community – would be helpful.” Sanctions will also apply to those who refuse to take part in work-related activity, whatever that is – there are still no regulations to define the circumstances where such activity might be deemed to be appropriate.

The minister, Mark Hoban, explained: “People on sickness benefits who do all they can to improve their chances of moving back in to a job have nothing to worry about; they will get their benefits and we will do all we can to help. But in the small number of cases where people refuse to stick to their part of the bargain, it’s only right there are consequences.” So there it is; people on ESA who are too sick to work, who meet the requirements of the work capacity assessment, who it is not reasonable to expect to work – those are the qualifying conditions – are going to be required to work nevertheless.

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