People facing mobility and mental health challenges will be required to work remotely or risk losing benefits as part of what a UK government minister termed as fulfilling “their duty.” The new policy, unveiled in the autumn statement, is spearheaded by Rishi Sunak to address what he deems an “unsustainable” welfare system.
Under the proposed plans, hundreds of thousands of individuals will be mandated to seek remote employment or face a reduction in benefits amounting to £4,680 annually, according to reports from The Times. Laura Trott, chief secretary to the Treasury, emphasized the need for citizens to fulfill their duty if capable of working outside their homes.
Trott clarified that the government intends not merely to force people into work but to provide support mechanisms. She stressed the obligation of citizens to engage in these efforts, with potential sanctions for non-compliance.
Charities, however, have criticized these plans’ rushed and poorly considered nature. Ayla Ozmen from the anti-poverty charity Z2K challenged the lack of evidence supporting the availability of fully remote jobs suitable for individuals with mobility and mental health issues. Sarah White, from the national disability charity Sense, expressed concern that the government’s move could disproportionately affect disabled individuals, exacerbating anxiety in already struggling households.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will disclose details of the policy following consultations held several months ago on work capability assessments (WCA). Trott hinted at potential tax cuts for individuals in the autumn statement, marking a significant moment in light of reduced inflation, as she emphasized the impact on household budgets.
Charities have previously warned that tightening health-related benefits could cause significant anxiety and lead to sanctions for disabled people. Critics argue that stringent conditions accompanying additional support to help disabled individuals find work may result in many losing nearly £400 per month in support. Addressing the proposed changes, the prime minister underscored a belief in the dignity of work as the best path out of poverty, noting the national scandal of 2 million working-age people currently unemployed.
The number of individuals receiving health-related benefits has increased by 25% since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily affecting those in the limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA) group, who receive an additional £390.06 per month.