The government has recently opened its fourth call for evidence on Employment and Support Allowance, to inform the fourth independent review that will be coming out later this year. So far the independent reviews have found that ESA 'is the right principle' but that it 'does not work as well as it should,' and a number of improvements have been recommended.
What is less clear is what Professor Harrington, the leader of the first three reviews, meant when he said that ESA is the right principle.
I’m getting sick of this ‘something for nothing’ attitude that MPs seem to have regarding social security. They complain about giving Jobseeker’s Allowance to people who haven’t spent many years in employment, and forget that to have spent many years in employment one also has to have lived many years since leaving education. They forget that people who haven’t lived many years since education are generally also young and therefore likely to live and work for many years into the future. They forget that by helping people get out of the low-pay, no-pay cycle they are assisting these people into sustainable jobs that will result in tax revenues and national insurance contributions.
Previously, people unable to walk 50m received the higher rate mobility of Disability Living Allowance. Under Personal Independence Payments, these people will receive only the standard rate, leaving them ineligible for the Motability scheme. This is a retrogressive step.
When Sir William Beveridge wrote his report on social insurance he identified five giant evils: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease.
Squalor, disease and want were all inter-linked. Squalor meant circumstances where disease was rife and often untreated. Want was both created by and a sustainer of disease: want was at times a result of worklessness due to ill-health, and meant that that ill-health could not be treated as there was no money to pay for medical care, thus perpetuating the poverty trap.
A couple of weeks back I wrote about a recent experience using trains as a disabled person. As one reader pointed out, part of my problem was that I had chosen to buy a mobility scooter that was too big to be taken on public transport.
Scooters come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be three-wheeled or four-wheeled; have a small, hard plastic seat or a large, soft captain’s chair. Some come with suspension and pneumatic tyres, others can be dismantled and stored in a suitcase. Some have the ability to ravel at 8mph and get up and down kerbs, others can’t get faster than 4mph.
But none meet the full range of what I need.