DRUK got it wrong

Liz Sayce has suggested that recent campaigns have emphasised the ‘right not to work’ and uses our ‘impairment impairs’ comment as an example. But on this occasion, DRUK have got this wrong.

We have never said that we want people to have the right not to work. We want the opposite: we want everyone to have the right to work.

The evidence of the terrible eight year DWP ESA experiment, in real time with real people, is startlingly clear. The statistics show that most sick and disabled people couldn’t get work.

Iain Duncan Smith thought if people were on welfare it was their own fault and that they needed to change their attitudes. He extended this to sick and disabled people, and cut, and cut, and cut again to drive them in to work. His analysis was wrong. His solutions were wrong. His policies were magical thinking and failed. (See Bernadette Meaden’s article).

But he has now jumped ship. It is time to start again with a new analysis and policies that can actually work

We have put forward our analysis as to why people can’t get work in the Dead Parrot Campaign. Our analysis is that if someone has a condition that reduces their performance by 20% then they will have enormous difficulty in competing in the open labour market. Call it what it is. Call it reduced productivity. That’s how the labour market sees it. Don’t hide behind euphemisms like ‘barriers to work’ and ‘being further from the job market’. These mean nothing to employers. Acknowledge reduced productivity as a realistic concern of employers, and then confront it and deal with it.

There is absolutely no reason for sick and disabled people to be ashamed of impairment and they should be able to be out and proud about reduced productivity and still get a job.

The way to deal with reduced productivity is through government interventions in the labour market – possibly subsidies or quotas or publishing inclusion statistics. The same sort of imaginative interventions that government has made time and time again to include women in the labour market. Women would never have been included without government support such as maternity leave and childcare support. Government interventions are needed to encourage inclusion. But it won’t happen while we refuse to name and talk about reduced productivity.

In the meantime we ask for safe benefits until the option to work is really there. This is probably where the misunderstanding with DRUK arose. While reduced productivity isn’t confronted and people still can’t get work, we do campaign for safe financial support.

People with reduced productivity are likely to be out of work for many years. We agree with Matthew Oakley that the greatest extra cost of disability is long term unemployment and that needs a higher level of support than current ESA levels. Or alternatively open the labour market up to them.

We agree with the rest of the DRUK article. We hope Liz will now reply to us and tell us her views about reduced productivity.

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4 thoughts on “DRUK got it wrong

  1. Pat and everyone – good to be discussing this. It’s great that we are united in wanting a right to work. We didn’t mean to imply that you wanted a right not to work – and are happy to make that clear (there were two separate sentences, though I see it was unclear). We think as you do that we need more from government to make that happen. For instance, we think government should offer financial support through Access to Work where people need periodic time off sick, so the employer can put in temporary cover – and not incur extra expense. But we are not sure about the emphasis on disabled people having reduced productivity – in our experience, some non-disabled people also have low productivity – so why single out disabled people? And once good adjustments and support are in place, disabled people’s productivity is often at least as good as that of non-disabled people. Productivity can also be helped by having a culture at work where people feel confident to be open about experiences of health condition or impairment. We are glad you liked the rest of our article, which focused on objecting vigorously to co-ercion, but not to employment per se. And we are glad to be having the debate.

    Liz Sayce OBE

  2. There will always be at least some disabled people who cannot work, and there should be no attempt to force them into work, either by Government legislation or social stigmatisation. The biblical (and Leninist!) ‘those who do not work shall not eat’ morality seems to be coming through here, and it gives off a nasty Puritanical smell. It’s not simply a matter of ‘reduced productivity’ – it’s also a matter of active hostility and discrimination, both in the jobs market and in the workplace, phenomena that I’ve experienced first-hand as someone on the autism spectrum, and I know others who have, too. So I’m with Liz Sayce here – we DO have a right NOT to work, some of us always, and the rest until work is a very different thing. A national minimum income, of course, would make this debate academic.

  3. Pingback: Reply to Liz Sayce: People with reduced productivity need representation too | Pat's Petition

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