The focus is on sickness and disability benefits today, as Channel 4 and the BBC both screen programmes on the assessment system (Channel 4 at 8.00 and Panorama on BBC at 8.30). Panorama has questioned the "government appointed adviser on testing welfare claimants", Prof Malcolm Harrington. According to a preview in the Telegraph, the professor admits that there are flaws in the system. The programme highlights a particular case, a man who suffered from heart failure and "died 39 days after being declared fit for work". However, the familiar loathing of anyone on benefits is on show in a particularly nasty way in the Express this morning. "New war on sick benefits" it shrieks. The language in this article would make a fine case study in right-wing propaganda. Note the verbs. Taxpayers "shelled out"; families are "mired" in dependency; claimants are "raking in" money. And the statistics are absurd. But they have a quote from the disgusting Taxpayers' Alliance, so that must validate it.
No doubt they would approve of the plan which is about to be rolled out across the country, according to the Guardian; to make people who have been unemployed for 3 years do "community work" for 6 months. The paper has the views of the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, which says that it could result in 1.06 million people being forced onto the scheme because the Work Programme will not work. The article also says that the decision in the Jamie Wilson case is expected before 10 August. He's the chap who took the DWP to court along with Cait Reilly.
The Guardian also has revelations about how donors to the Tory party are making millions from welfare companies. A firm called Sovereign Capital owns ESG which has £73m worth of government contracts, including for the WP in the Midlands. The article details all the donations and connections. There's a rather half-hearted quote from Labour's Liam Byrne. He's in a difficult position, of course. David Blunkett and A4e?