Green Party Principal Speaker Keith Taylor has today been critical of the government's proposed welfare reforms - "A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work"
"The Green Party utterly opposes the government approach of setting targets for the reduction of Incapacity Benefit claimants. With the Department of Work and Pensions itself acknowledging that less than 0.5% of claimants are fraudulent, forcing vulnerable people back to work before they are ready could lead to disaster. People who are unable to work, whether through physical or mental illness, deserve the support of society and government, not coercion." (1)
"This Green Paper simply reinforces the government's obsession with forcing people into work - regardless of the effect on overall quality of life. Greens view the economy in relation to its effect on people's lives, not on GDP - and as a result, we oppose draconian measures aimed at the most vulnerable in our society."
"This government has already made it extraordinarily difficult to claim Incapacity Benefit. I would challenge John Hutton to speak to actual claimants - he would quickly find out that they have gone through a rigorous investigative procedure to claim Incapacity Benefit, and that many of them would sincerely like to work.
"Providing extra support and guidance for claimants is to be welcomed - but subjecting people claiming Incapacity Benefit to yet more humiliating and degrading assessment by non-medical staff will only make life worse for them. Overworked Job Centre staff cannot be expected to assess complex medical problems, nor should they be encouraged to make simple 'black and white' decisions. John Hutton is running the risk of making life even worse for those already incapable of tasks many of us take for granted."