• Perhaps someone could remind Lord Freud individuals do insure against sickness absence. It’s actually a compulsory system, and it’s called national insurance. One wonders how much he and others hope they’ll reap as reward from a grateful Unum if they can persuade the public to abandon social security altogether and settle for a far more expensive and far less effective American-style insurance system, one which uses the tricks Unum are notorious for so it won’t ever have to payout. Big bucks there then. But, he makes no mention of any figure, we see. A shame, that, as if he had I have no doubt it would have been the only honest statement of the presentation.

    • Bill, thank you for your comments. Much appreciated. I think part of the issue is that National Insurance isn’t what it should be (or what we commonly assume it to be.) There is no ‘savings account’ into which we are pooling money for a rainy day. In reality, today’s NI is paying for today’s outgoing. Properly implemented, there are a lot of arguments for a national, social insurance system, as opposed to a fragmented, individual one.

  • decidendi

    Nothing that Fraud says surprises me including his now infamous suggestion that sick and disabled people be allowed to ask for lower wages as an incentive for employers to employ them.

    It has been pretty clear over the last five years that Ian Duncan’s personal mission to save those rotting on the scrap heap of benefit hand outs that this project is about two things, to reduce the burden on the state that sick and disabled people impose. To redefine the very notion of sickness and disability. The next phase no doubt will seek to plant in the brain of the public that those headlines many moons ago really were true and that two thirds of those claiming sickness benefits were in fact fit for some type of work. So how better to do that than make no distinction at all. And with one wave of an arm sickness and disability no longer exists. Ian Duncan Smiths mission will then finally be complete children will have been lifted out of poverty the workless found work and the sick healed.
    Maybe all those smart people locked in a room should actually understand what there policies do in real life and not what they assume.

    • Thanks for your comment, this is an issue on which there are very strong feelings. I’d say that the vast majority of the people in the room in question are very aware of the impact of policy in real life, which is why they continue to work hard to make things better. Politics doesn’t always make that easy for practitioners.

  • Pam

    And no doubt the discredited insurance company UNUM will be oh so helpful in supplying all the needs of private insurance. They have, after all, been oh so helpful in destroying the welfare state!
    https://sparaszczukster.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/the-hidden-agenda-the-planned-destruction-of-the-welfare-state/

  • Rob Van

    I am an ex civil servant who has worked in a wide variety of jobs including job centre. Dwp. Dti and so on. Despite a long career and good promotions I became burnt out and very ill. Disability discrimination is rife in Government. So I suggest that the discrimination factor needs to be sorted out before preaching to the private business by improving the law ea2012. Also the language of government should never be such that it demonises the disabled. Ie it caused a 50% increase in hate crime of which I personally suffered since 2010. You speak of a group of “smart”people sitting around the table thinking out new ways of improving society and welfare. I am sorry but action speaks louder than words. Action to stop demonising sections of society and use positive bold forward thinking plans based on real evidences is far far better. So far most of the mps in conservative party have voted in extremely harmful changes used shocking naive misrepresentation of facts to justify their votes. Nhs snd welfare was created after the world wars in a positive atmosphere and real change. The whole idea remains good in principle and should evolve for the good of society and the modern world. But it should be across party concensus and fully supported. Not used as a battle field of political idealogy and individual view points. Ian Duncan Smith and Dr Freud are not the right people to tackle this for they have no idea of reality of normal life. There are others out there who would be better suited and less damaging.

    • Rob,

      Thank you for your comment. I completely agree that no one should be “demonised”. Just as importantly, an evidence based approach to reform is essential. I’ll keep making both these points to whoever will listen!

  • Rob Parsons

    “There will be no marker that says ‘I am out of work because of a health condition’. There will, equally, be no higher rate of benefit paid because of that. People who need additional financial which is specific to their health condition or disability, will receive it through, say, Personal Independence Payments, but if you’re out of work due to a mild, moderate health or mental health problem, you’re going to be categorised no differently to the chap who was made redundant.”

    If everybody in the room accepted that statement at face value then they are neither expert nor smart. IDS and Lord Freud, though, have been expert at disguising venomous attacks on sick and disabled people as being in the public interest. A combination of Universal Credit and PIP (or, as you say, something similar) would be acceptable, in fact good, if the value of each were placed at the right level, and if the benefits were awarded without a system that constantly harasses and tries to trip up those who can least afford it. But the history of Duncan Smith and Freud’s term in office demonstrates the precise opposite. how is it possible to say with a straight face that the extra cost of disability can be picked up by PIP when the move from DLA to PIP was deliberately designed to save money, whatever the cost to the claimants, and PIP is now subject to another massive assault from George Osborne. Their manoevring, manipulation, distortion and outright lies around Universal Credit and PIP constitute a lethal mixture of incompetence and vindictiveness, masked by honeyed words. And if you believed anything Lord Freud said, then you have fallen for his con.

    • Rob,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I agree – getting the right levels of support (financial and otherwise) is critically important. Equally important is making sure that the system itself supports rather than scares.

      Reducing cost as the primary motivation is a false economy.

  • wrt UC, you wrote: “There will be no marker that says ‘I am out of work because of a health condition’. ”

    Isn’t the logical conclusion of that change going to be that the sick and disabled will be threatened with withdrawal of what is currently known as their Social Security payments if they don’t find work or aren’t looking for work?

    Freud’s a disgrace, btw. He and many others ‘sitting around the table’ have no concept of real poverty. Here’s a handy primer:
    https://www.facebook.com/theguardian/videos/10153962037681323/?fref=nf

    • Chris, thanks for your comment. I don’t think it’s the only logical conclusion, but it is a risk if the right protection isn’t built into the system.

  • Steve Gale

    Government thinking is fundamentally flawed by silo thinking and failure driven demand. Until there is an overarching strategy (and ring fenced from the electoral cycle), there will be no progress. Ministers (typically the recently departed IDS, Freud etc.) have identified some of the issues, but fail to connect all the dots sufficiently. It’s as if they are throwing darts in an unlit room, hoping they will eventually score a bullseye.In fact they are mostly screwing things up, wasting time, resources and sliding backwards .

    In my view social security (yes security!) is one element in a continuum that embraces education, GOOD personalised careers advice, health, social care and financial support (during adverse life events). This is a huge ask, but could be achieved in the right environment by the right people who should not be hindered by political baggage. Does anyone of the left or right seriously think you can run a successful economy without underpinning social support?

    Let’s highlight the sickness element of welfare benefits for a moment. In the current flawed system, the government tinkers with ridiculous and subjective scoring systems to find out if ESA claimants can do ‘some’ work (‘limited capability for work’). We start by ensuring the contractor for the assessment has no access to NHS records, so it’s a snapshot based on a form and a 40 minute time slot (schizophrenia? epilepsy? dodgy leg? we do ’em all mate) . The jobcentre then hands the claimant to yet another contractor cherry picks the most work-ready people and returns the other 70% to the Jobcentre two years after referral. Most people actually work for small employers, but we don’t offer these businesses tax breaks to take on ESA claimants,. Then there are those ESA claimants deemed too ill to work and labelled as having ‘limited capability for work related activity’ (Orwellian isn’t it?). This group might also discover Personal Independence Payment (PIP), so then we pay a different contractor to ‘assess’ them using yet another ludicrous scoring system. I will pass over the millions incurred by the Ministry of Justice administering appeals. Some of these people might want to be assessed by their local authority for equipment (such as stairlifts, bathing aids, etc), so we send a social care provider out to assess for the scarce and means-tested Disabled Facilities Grant. However, if social care services are also provided, the social care provider (sometimes hilariously called an ‘integrated provider’) will do another assessment(!) and apply charges via a a financial assessment (yes another) and then claw back a lot of the benefits provided in the first place by the DWP. Do you see my drift here? This is the system ministers are delivering in 2016. The only credit to the current government is that IDS was kept in his role for nearly 6 years. The last Labour government changed social security ministers almost every year (10 in all).

    In my opinion, a regulated mutual body (not an American insurance provider) would be the appropriate vehicle to deliver a holistic, vertically integrated (and trusted) life support service (or Wellbeing in the current vogue). It would have to be underwritten by the taxpayer, but it would demonstrate transparency and reconnect the citizen with their financial contributions. Such a system could build in incentives to discourage the workshy and could draw on the best features of the out of fashion friendly societies. Yes I know there are all sorts of questions to be addressed with this model, but there are far more issues with the current hugely outdated and inefficient shambles.