05/10/2014 - Terminally ill will be forced to work

atoskillsTerminally ill people face being forced to work to keep their benefits.

Cancer patients who have more than six months to live could have to do work experience or see their payments slashed under the heartless scheme by ConDem Work and Pensions Minister Iain Duncan Smith.

And unlike fit and healthy job seekers, there will be no limit on how long those claiming Employment and Support Allowance are expected to work for free.

The Department for Work and Pensions initially said rumours of the plan, which could affect 300,000 disabled people, were “absolute nonsense”.

A spokeswoman said: “No-one on ESA will be forced to do work experience.”

But she later admitted private firms paid by the Government to push people back into work will be able to compel disabled people to take placements or lose money.

Mental health and disability groups warn making the vulnerable work risks making their conditions worse.

Neil Coyle, of pressure group Disability Rights UK, said:

He added: “When Conservative backbench MP Philip Davies suggested disabled people should work for less than the national minimum wage he was castigated. But it now appears to be Government policy.”

Department for Work and Pensions officials held discussions on subjecting people on ESA to “work-related activity” with disabled groups late last year.

The groups were told: “There are no plans to introduce a maximum time limit.”

The advisers also defended the idea of docking cash from those who refuse to take up work placements.

French firm Atos currently interviews the sick and disabled to decide if they must join a “work-related activity group” in order to keep getting paid.

They have to have meetings with advisers and take courses.

More than 8,000 claimants had their payments docked or were hit with other sanctions in the 12 months to August for offences such as missing interviews “without good cause”.

Pat Harrington, general secretary of the Solidarity Union said:

"When I think the ConDem government cannot get crueler they find another way to destroy the lives of those who are most in need of help and compassion."