LETTER: System to punish the disadvantaged?

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The General Election beckons soon. Are we right to believe government figures on the economy, employment and unemployment?

On the economy, why is there still a need for cuts and austerity after seven years of it? Jobs are created but do the figures include a subtraction for those still being lost?

Employment is rising yet how many of these are self-employed starters of whom 25 per cent fail in the first year or are on zero hour contracts? Firms contracted to find work for claimants don’t do any better than claimants on their own, indeed their figures may be massaged by people finding work themselves but adding this ‘success’ to their results.

Unemployment is falling but how many people have been kicked off benefits by a system ostensibly designed to catch out people who are benefit cheats or ‘swinging it’, the infamous Working Capability Assessment allied with ATOS?

In my view, most of the real cheats have not been caught but, as in all traps which are set to catch malingerers, many more innocent people are ensnared because the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is one where you have to be a good actor, which is difficult if you have an ‘invisible’ illness, otherwise, if you present a face of pride and stoicism, you are guaranteed to fail.

I have even seen one person who struggled to walk from reception to the interview room found ‘fit for work’.

The other way to get people off benefits is to apply sanctions, which may be for being late to interviews by five minutes. It is ‘easiest’ to target those with mental or educational problems who cannot cope or defend themselves.

Another way to reduce the number of unemployed, which it has been said is target-driven. Just hope that if you are gainfully employed it does not come to a sudden stop.

Do we want a system to continue where the disadvantaged are punished while the rich and privileged get obscene bonuses (in a State bailout industry - banking) and the rich avoid paying their fair share of tax, while condemning those who are so poorly paid that they have to receive State help in the form of Working Tax Credits?

John Allen

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