Sunday 2 October 2016

Don't believe it till you see it

The DWP's decision to cease re-testing chronically ill claimants is, a rare thing for the DWP in its current guise, welcome. It could be interpreted as part of Theresa May's ambition to govern for “everyone”, but it would be unwise to be too optimistic about further possible decisions and strategies. Firstly, we do not know yet who this will apply to. The criteria are yet to be drawn up, and they could easily turn out to be quite restrictive. Secondly, it is effectively a cost free exercise. The repeated assessments, with attendant reconsiderations and appeals, cost the department money, and save very little apart from those who are thrown off the benefit system because of the stress of repeated testing and because of wrong conclusions being drawn about people's fitness. Damien Green does not share Iain Duncan Smith's vindictive attitude towards claimants. Indeed hardly any Tories do, apart from Chris Grayling. Without that vindictive attitude it would be plain to any reasonable manager that the system should be stopped. Saving the government money by axing a pointless system cannot be interpreted as being one nation government. It means nothing politically. We also have to consider that other planned cuts will be going ahead, and these are a much more potent test of whether the Tories will be governing on behalf of everybody.

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