Sick and Disabled Forced Into Unpaid Labor


Since coming to power, the current UK Government has used the financial crisis as a smokescreen to implement ideological cuts to services. Recently, those targeted have been the long-term sick and persons with disabilities. Under new proposals in the Welfare Reform Bill, these groups face being forced to work for free or risk having their benefits cut – benefits that provide a literal lifeline.

Although these changes will technically only affect people assessed to be fit for work, the current assessment system has been roundly denounced as deeply flawed – with 40 percent of claimants challenging decisions and 70 percent of such appeals being successful. But regardless of ability to work, forced, unpaid labor is abuse in itself. Furthermore, it reduces the number of paid jobs in the marketplace at a time of serious financial uncertainty.

The Welfare Reform Bill has already been widely attacked by charities and professionals for arbitrarily reducing support to the most vulnerable. This even led to a revolt in the House of Lords which voted against some of the bill’s most controversial points. Yet, Prime Minister David Cameron has fought back by dubiously stretching ‘financial privilege’ to ensure Parliament backs his plans.

However, this latest uproar must surely shame the Government into making some concessions. When the extremely vulnerable – from those with mental health problems to those with terminal cancer – are at risk of exploitation the response can, and should, only be shock and disgust.


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Photo Credit: Jacinta Quesada


Ruby W.
Ruby W.4 years ago

This article doesn't have much actual information in it. I can't tell from all the adjectives what is really going on.

Past Member
Past Member 4 years ago

Brenda T,
If you aren't a disabled person, (I proceed from the premise you are not), then what would you know of disability benefits? Proceeding also from the premise that you are not a resident of the UK, what would you know about the plight of those people who, through no fault of their own, (i.e. chronic illness or disability or the economic policies of the rich, leading to forced unemployment among those who rely on work for income), rely on these benefits?
I am presuming also that, because "Labor" is used instead of the correct "Labour", that this is a US site. The US is no paragon of virtue when it comes to its poorer citizens.
They are simply abandoned to penury, homelessness and starvation in the states.
Yet the US government likes it to be believed that it is to the fore on the world stage in matters of equality and human rights.
This is, of course, complete nonsense. Ones rights in America are largely dependent on ones level of income. The lower the income, the fewer the rights.
I have seen documentary programmes made by Louis Theroux, the respected British broadcaster, where poor people without medical insurance were simply and unceremoniously dumped on the street from ambulances because your hospital system refused to take care of them. That is barbarism, madam.
And now, the Tories in Britain are attempting to roll back every advance made by the "lower orders" since World War II because attacking the poor is all the rage in the US and British governm

Peter L.
Peter L.4 years ago

@Brenda T. The system has NOT been severely abused, fraud in DLA runs at less than 1%. The tests the government has set up have been qwidely condemened by all the major chairites and 'the truly disabled' ARE losing thier benefits. Don't beleieve all the media tells you. the government have been forced into apologies on numerous occations because they have lied to the media about disabled people.

Peter L.
Peter L.4 years ago

but, they decide whether people with often complex medical conditions are entitled to disability benefits. They have a tick box computer system and its the computer that decides. There is, as with the American system, a huge level of mistakes. Still not content one the main benefits disabled people receive, Disability Living Allowance is to be scrapped altogether from next year. This is the benefit which helps people to live in their own homes and travel to visit friend and relitives. Without this many such as myself will become housebound. I’m a Labour candidate in this year’s local elections in Scotland, without DLA I wouldn’t be able to do this. But to save money the government has scrapped it. They have it has to be said introduced a new benefit called personal independence payment but, the criteria has changed. Many people who use wheelchairs will no longer qulify, this is because the government say a wheelchair mitigates a disability, if you can use a wheelchair, then you can get around and so aren’t truly disabled.

So, the work for you benefits policy has to be seen in its entirety, many severely disabled people are being forced out to work. People who need carers to get dressed, people who can’t access public transport, people who have difficulty with toileting. People in short who we should be looking after not kicking when they are down.

Peter L.
Peter L.4 years ago

OK for those in America. Disability benefits in the UK are among the least abused of all. The UK governments own statistics show that fraud in disability benefits runs at less than 1%. Now this didn't fit in with the government agenda to get as many people off disability benefits as possible and so they introduced a new tough test, one which had been devised by the insurance company Unum. This company courted controversy in the US for setting up what were described by American courts as disability denial factories. People who had taken out insurance covering ill health were being denied payouts because the insurance company had set new tests. Those tests had a 60% error. So things became tough for them in America due to court action and they came across to the UK. They became advisors to the UK government who were trying to reduce the benefits bill. First the government thought they could do this by eliminating fraud but when official figures showed fraud was less than 1% they had to look to other methods. Unum had the answer, set up the disability denial factories here. A new test was set up to determine who was eligible for disability benefits. A private company, ATOS was brought in to to run the tests and they didn't need to use doctors, so long as they were 'healcare professionals'. Many are brought in from third world countries, many have low level degrees, many are just midwives but, they decide whether people with often complex medical conditions are entitled to disab

Jay Williamson
Jay w4 years ago


Douglas S.
Douglas S.4 years ago


Brian M.
Past Member 4 years ago

Slavery by any other name is still slavery.

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers4 years ago

In fairness to the U.K. government , the system has been severely abused by some people! Those who are truly disabled are still receiving benefits.

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers4 years ago

"A labourer is worthy of his hire"