It's hard to know whether Chris Grayling is deliberately making it up or just doesn't understand. An article in the Telegraph yesterday showed the depths to which ministers, in collaboration with a Tory press, can sink when it comes to welfare reform. The headline is "Half of recipients of sickness benefit return to work if ruled fit". But the first sentence says that more than half "go off benefits". Hardly the same thing. The appalling quality of the journalism in this piece is shown by the sentence, "More than 2 billion people who previously claimed Incapacity Benefit are gradually being assessed ....." Okay, maybe that's a typo on the website. But don't they have proof-readers?
What the report in question actually claims to show is that 52% of those assessed as able to work don't claim another benefit straight away. 10% went back to their old jobs; 18% found new work or worked for themselves. "Others retired or were supported by their families." Which is not quite the same as the headline, is it? The comments under the article are well worth reading for the intelligent analysis of this rubbish. But it's the lies and the spin which last. Half of those on IB should be working.
And another piece has popped up on the Telegraph's website. Apparently Grayling has been "forced to tighten the rules ..... to get more people off benefits and back into work". He says that he will "redesign the scheme so that those deemed originally too ill to join it would be made to do so". It's because WP providers are "crying out" for more hard-to-help claimants, and yet only 40,000 people on ESA have been pushed onto the programme. Well, of course WP profits depend on these "hard to help" people. Incredible.
One of the least reported contracts which pays A4e and the like is the Jobcentre Plus Support contract (JCPSC). Helpfully, A4e has published a piece on their website to supposedly explain what they do, in the 33 London boroughs where they are the prime contractors. But the only description is "provides employment training for people who have signed on at Jobcentre Plus and need further support in terms of improving their job searches and getting ready for working". All right, we understand what that means. But this is work which should, and could, be done by the Jobcentres. Contracting it out was a purely ideological move, handing work for profit to the private sector. While there's no talk at the moment of privatising the Jobcentres altogether, I wonder whether this would have been done by now if the climate had been different.