Tony Blair Launches Controversial Employment Incentives To Reduce
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 1, 2005
LONDON, ENGLAND--Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced proposals to reform the incapacity (disability) benefit system to encourage people with disabilities to seek or return to work.
Blair is scheduled to outline his plans later in the week, but made it clear during a speech Tuesday that he believes too many people are receiving disability benefits who can -- and therefore should -- be working.
"Those who play by the rules get the help, those who don't play by the rules should start playing by the rules," he said.
The proposals reportedly are designed to reduce the number of people receiving disability benefits by nearly one-third over the next five years.
But the move is being criticized as "draconian" by disability groups and even members of Blair's own Labour Party.
Jon Knight, from the disability charity Leonard Cheshire, said that Blair's proposals would hit hardest people with disabilities who are already in poverty.
"People whose condition causes them pain or fatigue should not be forced to look for employment," Knight said.
Tony Manwaring, chief executive of the disability charity Scope, said the government is handling the employment issue the wrong way.
"If the government is serious about getting people off incapacity benefit and into work, it must tackle the ignorance and prejudice of employers," Manwaring told the BBC's disability affairs correspondent Geoff Adams-Spink.
"Blair signals more radical reform" (BBC)
"Tories promise to cut incapacity benefits bill" (The Guardian)
"Incapacity reform 'will hit poor'" by Geoff Adams-Spink (BBC)