Government unveils welfare changes
Thursday 11 November 2010
Mencap concerned over 'punitive measures' outlined in the government's white paper on welfare reform
The Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has unveiled a white paper on welfare reform, which will impose tough penalties on people who are out of work.
In what has been called the biggest shake-up of the benefits system since the creation of the welfare state, the government will introduce the planned Universal Credit system. This will replace all work-related benefits, including Jobseeker's Allowance, Housing Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance.
Claimants who move into work will keep more of their income than they do now, but those who refuse to take jobs will face losing their benefits. People refusing work on three occasions will receive no benefits for three months, while repeated offences could mean three years without benefits.
"Mencap welcomes the focus on ‘making work pay' and the move to improve and simplify the welfare system by removing disincentives to take up employment," says David Congdon, Mencap's head of campaigns and policy.
"However ‘making work pay' is only one aspect that needs addressing in order to help and support people with a learning disability to progress into employment. We know that 65% of people with a learning disability want to work, but less than 7% known to social services are in paid work.
"We are very concerned that punitive measures, such as benefit withdrawal will adversely impact people with a learning disability. They incur additional costs in housing, travel and every day life and the government needs to ensure this is reflected in the Universal Credit model."
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