Yet again, the Government is kicking people off welfare benefits hoping that they will move into jobs (see Crackdown throws thousands off disability support pension). This pathetic repetition of oft tried and always failed approach comes from a Government that is crowing about innovation: it clearly shows Governments cannot come up with a new approach.
Governments aim to push people with disability, including autistic people, into an expensive, corrupt and dysfunctional scheme for funding deeply dodgy (usually unsuccessful) "disability employment services" (see http://a4.org.au/node/797) that rarely deliver in effective employment ... just miserable lives for people with disability.
A4 has communicated its concerns; see some of the more recent communication here:
- Minister for Employment gets bad advice ... makes for bad policy and mad government
- Disability misinformation in politics and lazy journalism
- letter to Senator Abetz
- The Hon Scott Morrison MP: Open letter on people living with autism, and request to meet
- Disability employment scheme: sudden exclusion, fish-slapped by Departments and their "systems"
The LNP's mantra for the 2016 election started with "Jobs & Growth". The number of people diagnosed with autism is experiencing substantial growth ... so we'd love to see a credible plan to deliver jobs for them.
The record indicates that Government does not want to solve these problems. The 2013-16 Abbott/Turnbull Government, through it's entire term and despite numerous requests to meet, declined/refused to meet A4 representatives (national grassroot systemic advocates for autistic people and people living with autism) to discuss the problem and possible approaches. Clearly, the Government does not want to address these issues.
There is also evidence from overseas that the Government's existing appoach can have fatal outcomes for the most vulnerable people in the community: see Ten thousand benefit claimants declared fit to work under controversial Tory tests have died. Such deaths cannot be considered an "unintended consequence".
Crackdown throws thousands off disability support pension
More than 31,000 people have been booted off the disability support pension in the past year, the biggest annual drop on record as several years worth of government crackdowns begin to bite.
New figures from the Department of Social Services reveal a 3.9 per cent reduction — 31,359 people — from the pension in the year to March, bringing the total numbers to 788,099, resulting from Labor and Coalition reforms that made it harder to get, and keep, the payment.
New impairment tables introduced by the ALP in 2012 and government-approvedmedical assessments, which began under the Coalition, have moved people off the DSP, but the government says fewer people are applying under the stricter rules.
“We want to ensure there are pathways to get people back into study or work rather than providing incentives for people to get stuck on set-and-forget welfare payments,” said Social Services Minister Christian Porter.
“There are undoubtedly a great number of people who genuinely need and deserve the disability support pension and who have a marginal capacity or no capacity for employment.
“To ensure that people with genuine need are supported by taxpayers in a sustainable way, there is a responsibility to identify DSP applicants who have a fair capacity for work and recognise that capacity in the assessment process.”
Before the Coalition took office in 2013, about one in 20 people of working age were on the DSP. Gerard Thomas from the Welfare Rights Centre NSW expected another 90,000 pensioners to be targeted for a medical review over the next three years.
“The Department of Social Services has advised that 2300 people each year will have their disability support pension cancelled and, of these, 1800 will be moved onto the lower Newstart Allowance,” he said.
“These people will join the 164,000 people with disabilities on Newstart with a ‘partial capacity’, which is over $9000 a year less than the pension.
“There is no real jobs plan for people dumped onto the lower Newstart and most will just fall deeper and deeper into poverty. ”
The Newstart Allowance is $173 weekly less than the pension.
The number of people on the disability pension who have some work and some earnings has hit a two-decade low; only 7.2 per cent receive any income from employment.
Of the more than 5000 people on the DSP who had their payments cancelled last September, only 70 had returned to work three months later, according to department data obtained by The Australian.
“The government expects to save a further $62 million from these reviews which will assess people under the more restrictive 2012 impairment tables,” Mr Thomas said.
“The department has indicated that it will select people for the reviews by developing a ‘risk profile’ to determine those most at risk of not meeting the current eligibility criteria.
“Recent earnings, for example, could trigger a review of eligibility,” said Mr Thomas.
Ten thousand benefit claimants declared fit to work under controversial Tory tests have died
BY NICK SOMMERLAD; 27 AUG 2015 UPDATED 28 AUG 2015
DWP reveals 2,380 died after failing government tests and further 7,200 died after being put in 'work related activity group'
Nearly 10,000 people have died in just over two years after being denied full sickness benefits and told to get a job, the Government admitted.
After an 18-month Freedom of Information battle with the Mirror, the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that 2,380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 after failing controversial government tests and being found “fit to work”.
A further 7,200 people claiming Employment and Support Allowance died after being put in the “work-related activity group”, which means they get reduced benefits and are told to get a job.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We urgently need an inquiry into the government’s back-to-work regime. These disturbing findings cannot be swept under the carpet.
“The fact that more than 80 people are dying each week shortly after being declared fit for work should concern us all. We need a welfare system that supports people to find decent jobs not one that causes stress and ill health.”
The Mirror first used Freedom of Information laws in 2012 to expose how every week 32 people were dying after being put into the work-related activity group following “work capability assessments”.
The DWP insisted that the death rate for people on benefits had fallen over 10 years to 2013 “in line with the general working age population”.
But the death rate of those in the “work related activity group”, who now get the same rate as the jobseekers allowance, rose in 2013 to 532 per 100,000 – more than double the general working age population.
Back to work deaths: 2,380
People died in just over two years after being declared fit to work by Government officials
Rob Holland, of Mencap, said: “These tragic figures warrant further investigation. We know the fit for work test is failing disabled people, with devastating consequences.”
A DWP spokesman said: “The Government continues to support millions of people on benefits with an £80billion working age welfare safety net in place.”
Earlier this week, Work Secretary Iain Duncan Smith announced that he planned changes to the work capability assessments.
Tougher eligibility rules force thousands off the disability pension and into financial hardship
Thursday 14 July 2016 6:50AM (view full episode)
The Federal Government's welfare-to-work reforms are pushing thousands of people off the disability pension and into financial hardship. Welfare rights organisations say their work is increasingly taken up with these cases.
Tougher eligibility rules, first introduced by the Gillard Labor Government in 2012 and extended by the Coalition, have resulted in more than 30,000 people being taken off Disability Support Payments in the past year. It's the biggest annual drop on record.
Those deemed to have a 'partial capacity' for work are moved onto the Newstart allowance, which pays $173 a week less than the pension.
It's a big hit, and the Turnbull government announced in the May budget that a further 90,000 existing Disability Support Pensioners will face medical reviews over the next three years.