• Welcome to Phoenix Rising!

    Created in 2008, Phoenix Rising is the largest and oldest forum dedicated to furthering the understanding of, and finding treatments for, complex chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), fibromyalgia, long COVID, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), and allied diseases.

    To become a member, simply click the Register button at the top right.

UK State of the Nation Report on Benefits


The game is afoot

Some families are able to claim nearly 100,000 a year, according to a new report from the Department for Work and Pensions.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Welfare and Pensions secretary, said the generosity of the benefits system meant claimants thought those who worked were bloody morons.

He said: This is a tragedy. We must be here to help people improve their lives not just park then on long term benefits.

The State of the Nation report published by the DWP yesterday estimated that 670,000 households were eligible for benefits and tax credits worth more than 15,600 a year.

Of that figure, 50,000 households were allowed to claim benefits worth over 500 a week or over 26,000 a year. The average Briton is paid 25,500 annually.

To reach this level of income, two adults in a family would have to claim incapacity benefits, council tax benefit and housing benefit. They would also have to have three or more children, and claim child benefit and tax credits.

The report also disclosed the amount of public money spent on housing benefit - intended to help cover the costs of rented accommodation - rose by nearly 40 per cent to 14.2billion in 2009/10. The maximum housing benefit award, the report said, was now more than 93,000 a year, according to the report.

Unveiling a shake-up of the benefits system, Iain Duncan Smith, the Welfare and Pensions secretary, said: Aspiration it seems is in danger of becoming the preserve of the wealthy We literally cannot afford to go on like this.

For some of the poorest people it simply was not worth risking going into work in case it fell through and they could not get back on the benefits, he suggested.

He added that many people regarded those who took up job offers as bloody morons.

For some people the move from welfare into work means they face losing more than 95p for every additional pound they earn," Mr Duncan Smith said.

As a result the poor are in effect being taxed at an effective rate that far exceeds the wealthy. The system has become regressive.

Our current benefits system is actually disincentivising people from work. These prohibitive marginal tax rates mean that for some people, work simply does not pay.

We have in effect taken away the reward and left people with the risk. It is not wonder they are so resistant to finger-wagging lectures from the Government.

The Government would bring forward new measures to ensure people were able to get back into work more quickly, coordinated by a new Cabinet committee looking at the benefits system.

Longer term Mr Duncan Smith said he would be looking at wider reform of the tax and benefits system. However he gave warning that he would resign if his plans were not acceptable to the Treasury.

He said: "The purpose of my life here is to improve the quality of life of the worst-off in society. If somebody tells me I have to do something different then I won't be here any longer.

The report came as other DWP figures suggested that the nearly all of the UKs 2.6million incapacity benefit claimants should be in work.

Since October 2008, all new claimants for incapacity benefit have been given medicals to see if they able to go to work. These found that nine out of 10 new applicants were either fit for work or could be moved towards rejoining the workforce.

The medical tests have not yet been carried out on the existing 2.6million incapacity benefits claimants.

However they suggest that if applied to existing claimants, 2.4million of them could be fit to work, or ready to join a work related activity group before taking up a job.

:: A flagship 538million Government programme has made only a limited impact in helping disabled people into work, a report said yesterday.

The Pathways to Work programme was first introduced in 2003/04 as part of the Government's drive to cut numbers on incapacity benefits by one million by 2015.

The National Audit Office said the scheme offered poor value for money.

It said that private companies and charities to deliver support to get people off incapacity benefits had universally under-performed, delivering results no better than those achieved by job centres.

It said Pathways had had a limited impact and, while a serious attempt to tackle an intractable issue, has turned out to provide poor value for money.

Claimant numbers have fallen by around 125,000 to 2.63million in recent years, but Pathways made only a "modest" contribution, said the report.


The game is afoot
Cost of Benefit Fraud


Latest research from the government has revealed that benefit fraud is costing UK taxpayers 119 each per year.

The alarming figure, part of a study by the Department of Work and Pensions into the state of poverty and welfare dependency in the UK, also revealed that 670,000 families on benefits are now receiving more than 15,000 a year.

The report estimates that total benefit overpayments due to fraud and error would total 3.1bn, or 2.1% of total benefit expenditure in 2009-10. It added that from September 2008 to October last year 5.5%, or 700m of Income Support and Jobseekers Allowance expenditure is thought to have been overpaid - amounting to 27 per taxpayer.

In the wake of the damning report, new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith has set out what has been described as the most ambitious welfare reforms in a decade. This includes suggestions that the state retirement age rises to 70 because of growing life expectancy.

Mr Duncan Smith said that excessive benefits did not incentivise claimants to work, with jobseekers often being viewed as 'morons' because for every pound they stood to earn, they would lose up to 95 pence in benefits.

A system that was originally designed to support the poorest in society is now trapping them in the very condition it was supposed to alleviate, he said.

We literally cannot afford to go on like this.

Benefit expenditure has increased 12bn to 148bn in the past year, and is now almost the same as the government's annual borrowing of 156bn.

The news comes as another report revealed that nine in ten people who claimed to be too sick to work are actually fit to take a job. The figure emerged in the first report of pilot medical tests for incapacity benefit applicants. Mr Duncan Smith said that the 2.6 million existing claimants would have to take tests to determine their eligibility.

Other key findings of the State of the Nation report include:

1.4 million people in the UK have been on an out-of-work benefit for nine or more of the last 10 years.
More than one in four working-age adults 10.6 million people in the UK do not work.

Income inequality in the UK is now at its highest level since comparable statistics began in 1961.
Around 50 , 000 households receive more than 26 , 000 a year in benefits more than the average pre-tax wage for full time workers of 25,123.

Britain now has 1 million children living in homes where no-one works the highest level in Europe.


Off the fence
The news comes as another report revealed that nine in ten people who claimed to be too sick to work are actually fit to take a job. The figure emerged in the first report of pilot medical tests for incapacity benefit applicants. Mr Duncan Smith said that the 2.6 million existing claimants would have to take tests to determine their eligibility.

Like the scottish lady who was pronounced fit to work, and died of cancer two months after her supposed 'recovery'. ATOS have been paid 500,000 for their medicals on behalf of the DWP. They said one woman with ME was fit to work, while with their other hat on as medical advisors to her employers, they had reported that she was unable to perform her duties because of illness, which was what caused her to loose her job.

ATOS medicals on behalf of ESA (the new incapacity benefit) are allowing only 10% into the support group. Of the majority that they pronounce fit to work, those that appeal have a 40% chance of getting their appeal upheld.

As the Citizen's Advice Bureau's report states, "The ESA system is not fit for purpose"


The game is afoot
Response from CAB

Response from CAB.


Lizzie Iron, Citizens Advice Head of Welfare Policy said:

We welcome the overall vision set out today by Iain Duncan Smith and we keenly await further details. Its vital the Government gets the detail right by consulting with those working directly with claimants to ensure the proposals do end up helping the worst off in society.

We are particularly pleased to see recognition of the need for a joined up approach across the tax, tax credits and benefits systems. Too often we see separate changes to one system without recognition of the actual impact on people's lives when the combined effect is taken into account. The result is that those who should benefit can end up gaining the least.

But addressing poverty and inequality means making work pay, without freezing benefit levels, which would only serve to push people who can't work, further into poverty.


The game is afoot
CAB report on ESA

"A Wiltshire bureau reported that a client with Parkinsons disease had both physical and cognitive difficulties. He went for a WCA and was found fit for work despite being unable to stand for longer than 10 minutes, a tendency to fall, deteriorating speech and concentration - he slurred his words and could not control saliva, and had very poor short term memory, with inability to recall conversations that happened a few hours previously. His mental health had also suffered because of his difficulties."


Link to full report here.



Senior Member
The news comes as another report revealed that nine in ten people who claimed to be too sick to work are actually fit to take a job. The figure emerged in the first report of pilot medical tests for incapacity benefit applicants. Mr Duncan Smith said that the 2.6 million existing claimants would have to take tests to determine their eligibility.

Well, the easiest (but usually the worst) solution to a tricky problem is to simply re-define the problem, in this case what is meant by 'too sick to work'.

Good luck to them trying to properly & fairly re-assess 2.6 million existing recipients, in a reasonable time frame and at a reasonable cost.

This will almost certainly end very badly, for both patients and the government.

Glad I am not in the UK.


Off the fence
And where will they excise the sick too? Job Seeker's Allowance, thats where, to swell the number of the unemployed, and be at the bottom of any list of potential applicants. This is so wrong, but it's nothing new, we've been funneled into the ESA liquidiser for some time now. So we will get sicker, and further from hope, and what good will that do - oh yes, they'll save 27 a week per. But deduct from that figure the extra medications, GP time, the loss of the work that we do do (unpaid) supporting and counselling our families, all taxpayers themselves.

It's alright for me, I have reached pension age, but I really feel for the younger people. I will do all I can in my small way to point out the ludicrousness of the situation. They can't take my pension away.

The Incapacity Benefit claimant numbers were deliberately swelled to massage the unemployment statistics 20 years ago. Now they run scared in the other direction. When will our lords and masters grow up, wake up, and smell the coffee? How can they consider themselves Christian, or civilised? How can they sleep at night?

The hopeful thought I have is - this is a democracy, with a very insecure government. The Lib Dems may well revolt. I just hope they don't sign to the document that binds them to abstain in any disputed bill that has the party whip running. Some Torys may not be able to stomach the abandonment of the sick either.

What you to to him, the least of my brothers, you do to me. Jesus Christ said that.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

John Donne, c. 1624