Why has there been a rise in the number of people claiming disability related benefits over the last few decades? Some consider it a dramatic rise that they wrongly assume is caused by ‘abuse of the system’, but they’re wrong, there has been a rise simply because there are genuinely more people with disabilities, with every right to apply for and receive support.
There are several possible reasons behind this rise and here are just a few of them –
(If anyone knows of other reasons then please add a comment or contact on Twitter PoliticalSift so I can add them to this list, thanks. Please also sign and share this petition to make parliament assess the impact of welfare cuts)
People are living longer and generally the older people are, the more likely it is that they will have health conditions/difficulties and therefore need assistance.
Advances in health care
Advances in medicine
People that are born with disabilities, people that suffer strokes, heart attacks, people that have an accident, people with cancer, people that develop conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimers, Dementia, people that are HIV positive, people with certain diseases, are all either surviving or are living longer due to advances in medicine compared to decades ago and this has therefore added significantly to the amount of people with disabilities and therefore the amount of disability claimants.
Advances in medical technology
Similar to the above point regarding advances in medicine, advances in medical technology has helped people to either survive certain circumstances and/or has enabled people to live longer.
Returning military service personnel
That return with physical and mental health disabilities/illnesses.
Acknowledgement, understanding and raised awareness of disabilities/health conditions/diseases
Over the last few decades there has been advances in our understanding of conditions which has meant that people that would have been previously misdiagnosed and/or dismissed are now receiving diagnoses that has allowed people to claim the support that they are rightfully entitled too and should have previously received. Such as with people with learning difficulties, as one example.
Cuts to the NHS/Cuts to preventative care
Acute conditions/disabilities that should be short term are developing into chronic, long-term difficulties that has caused a rise in the number of people requiring disability related benefits. It is also causing an increase in the amount of conditions that develop alongside existing conditions, such as with mental health.
Changes in attitudes
There is still a huge way to go in this, but there has been a change in the attitude of the individuals themselves with physical/mental health conditions/illnesses/disabilities. People are more likely these days to seek help, although still no where near enough do, and accept support rather than for example, working themselves into the ground despite for example, having a heart condition, or for conditions such as depression that would, and unfortunately still does, escalate to the point of suicide. Plus, the attitudes of loved ones and those around the individual and society in general to certain disabilities/health conditions has changed over the last few decades that has meant more people are not having to try and hide or not admit to their condition, although again there is still a very long way to go for attitudes of individuals, those around them and society in general to change and for stigma to be removed.
Rise in obesity
The associated health problems related to obesity, such as diabetes (both types of diabetes causes 7,000 amputations every year), strokes, heart conditions, cancer, physical limitations and so on has caused more people to have disabilities and health conditions that has resulted in more people needing to claim disability related support.
The rise in inequality and disparity between pay and cost of living has meant that people with disabilities in work now need the additional financial support, as well as people that are now needing support to help with their disabled child/partner when before their pay would have covered costs and they wouldn’t have needed to claim disability related benefits. This disparity and rise in poverty has also affected those in old age, pensioners previously would have had savings or would have received a pension that covered their additional needs due to their health whereas now people don’t have savings and/or their pension doesn’t cover costs so they are having to claim benefits for support that they wouldn’t have previously needed to claim for.
Poverty, Consumerism and Mental Health
The impact of advertising and engineered consumerism plus the poverty/destitution that people find themselves in due to the lack of *decent* jobs has had an impact on the wellbeing of society. People are bombarded with adverts in every aspect of their lives that has led people to ‘need’ rather than merely ‘want’ items/products, but because of the disparity between pay and cost of living it has meant people are not able to meet these engineered consumerist needs and this then has a knock on effect on their overall wellbeing and can lead to people developing mental health conditions and the added stress of debt can have physiological ramifications that can lead to physical disabilities. Alongside this, certain cultural changes such as our obsession with our weight and as a result of inventions such as the internet and social media, has led to conditions such as eating disorders, and the associated health problems, and to low self-esteem and the knock on psychological effects from this.
Those with drug, alcohol, medication and so on, addictions aren’t being given the appropriate support and this is therefore leading to additional health difficulties.
Rise in population
Finally, there has been a rise in the population and we have therefore naturally alongside this seen a rise in the number of claimants of disability related benefits compared to the amount of claimants previously, decades ago within a smaller population.
Thanks to ‘Spoonydoc’ for this additional point sent via a comment – “Another important factor is the mass closing down of institutions. This thankfully moved disabled people who once would have been locked away out of sight in such places their entire lives back into the community. Such people are now supported through disability benefits, which they would not have claimed in the past.
Ironically we may start to see a reversal of this for disabled people who require a lot of personal care unless we reverse the current trend of capping community social care costs, and, just recently, continuing NHS care costs, to that of care homes.” This is a good point about how we have to reverse this trend, as I’m sure the government will then claim they have ‘moved’ people with disabilities into/back into work because they’re no longer claiming benefits, similar to what they do with employment figures when they sanction claimants to then say that because they’re no longer claiming JSA, that automatically means they’re in employment, which isn’t true.
Regardless of whether you agree with some or all of the causes to the rise in the number of people claiming disability related benefits, you will see that there are genuine reasons as to why there has been a rise in people with disabilities and therefore a rise in the number of people claiming disability related benefits. In-fact when you consider all of the reasons you will see that there should have been a much steeper rise and that there are a huge amount of people with disabilities and health conditions that aren’t receiving the support/benefits that they need, that they should be receiving and are entitled too.
What we can safely say is that there hasn’t been a rise in disability related benefit claimants because of the system being ‘abused’ or that people are fraudulently claiming, this is nonsense propaganda and spin by the ruling elite to manipulate society into thinking there is a huge amount of fraud to direct anger at people that simply don’t exist to deflect attention and anger away from where it rightfully belongs, at the ruling elite.
It’s infuriating how some people purposefully ignore the fact of how much of welfare spending is lost to fraud. That amount is 0.7%, which it could be argued is actually a higher amount than is actually true. Given the rigid disability ‘assessments’ for both Employment and Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance/Personal Independent Payments, and as the latest revelations around benefit related deaths and around the suicide training given to DWP staff shows, these ‘assessments’ are not fit for purpose, they’re so draconian and unjust that the UN is to investigate human rights violations against people with disabilities.
These tests were brought in under New Labour and as this article shows, the government has known for over 5 years that these tests are failing people and causing severe hardship, suffering, stress, anxiety and even death. There will be some within the 0.7% of ‘fraud’ that aren’t frauds at all, but rather victims of a system that is failing the very people it purports to help.
A portion of the 0.7% of fraud could be because of the effects of Conservative policies regarding things such as austerity, the bedroom tax, benefit sanctions and so on, some may have turned to ‘fraud’ either out of destitution or desperation, they may have been driven to ‘fraud’ just to feed their children, to keep a roof over their heads, to stop them from going into a debt spiral or to try and keep up with existing exorbitant debts to legal loan sharks – payday lenders. Some may be genuinely unfit-to-work but because of the rigid and dysfunctional way the tests are carried out, meaning they could be wrongly found fit-to-work, it could be leading to some that are either ‘fraud-ing’ Job Seekers Allowance because they’re not actually able to work so shouldn’t be receiving a benefit intended for those seeking work, or have had to exaggerate certain parts of their health/disability to meet the criteria of the Work Capability Assessments so would be viewed as ‘frauds’ according to the tests but aren’t genuine frauds as they are genuinely unfit-to-work, they’ve had to commit ‘fraud’ so that they actually receive the correct outcome that the flawed test wouldn’t have come to.
The constant ‘scrounger’ and ‘welfare dependent’ rhetoric spouted by the government and mainstream media might have driven those once considered ‘hard working tax payers making the right choices’ to ‘fraud’ because of the lack of jobs, the lack of genuine, secure, full-time, well paid jobs. These people that are down on their luck through no fault of their own but because of economically inept ideological austerity and other government policies and actions, such as no longer providing legal aid at workplace tribunals, in-work benefit freezes, employers being able to sack people without just cause, the benefit cap, and many many more that mean people are either fed-up of being accused all the time despite looking for work that isn’t there so have been driven to commit some kind of benefit ‘fraud’ or are being forced to commit some kind of benefit ‘fraud’ such as half heartedly applying for jobs they don’t want just to satisfy their ‘work coach’ while they wait for a decent job that they want to apply for.
Plus, what people always forget is that to receive JSA contributions then someone has to have first paid into the system, they’re not getting ‘something-for-nothing’, they are getting the money that they paid in to cover for when they find themselves without work. Plus, someone in employment can’t just leave that employment to then receive JSA.
These are just a few examples of how the level of fraud is probably a significant amount lower than the already low 0.7%, not to mention those with difficulties that need help filling in the forms but aren’t given the support when applying, again due to government cuts, that apply incorrectly and unknowingly commit ‘fraud’.
It is also important to note that the 0.7% figure is the amount of welfare spending lost to ‘fraud’, it isn’t a percentage of claimants like some mistakenly presume and neither is it a percentage of all people in society, it is just of welfare spending ‘lost’ to ‘fraud’. I don’t have the raw data to hand but given the amount of people in society, given that the percentage of spending lost to ‘fraud’ is probably a lot lower than 0.7% and it would be fairly safe to argue the percentage of genuine fraud would be closer to 0.2 or 0.3% then the percentage of people that genuinely commit fraud, would probably be less than 0.05% of society.
Not to mention that the 0.7% figure is of all welfare, not just disability related welfare, so when we consider this then the number of people that commit disability related welfare fraud it will probably be even less than 0.05% of society. The number of people that genuinely fraud disability related welfare is absolutely minuscule, the number of people that should rightfully receive disability related welfare that don’t will by far out weigh the number that commit fraud. The current system is failing the very people it is supposed to help, the government is purposefully causing hardship to tens of thousands of people that they should be helping, to justify their economically inept ideological austerity to shrink the state and shift even more wealth from those that have the least to those that have the most.
Given these figures then it is highly likely that more is lost to Tax avoidance/evasion in a single day than is lost to benefit fraud in an entire year.
More will be lost to Tax avoidance/evasion in a single day than is lost to disability related benefit fraud over several years!
Would someone really blame someone down on their luck that has lost their job through no fault of their own, either due to their health or being laid off that is struggling with bills and having debts pile up that then claims, for example, that they aren’t living with their partner to receive a tiny amount of support (that they should be receiving anyway if they are in need) to stop their debt spiral causing them to lose their home or from causing them to have no quality of life while they look for work or try to adjust to life with a disability?!
What have we come to as a society where we’d rather kick someone while they’re down than give them what is just a tiny amount of support? Support that they need, support that isn’t actually enough that rarely even covers the basics let alone allowing people in this one chance at life that we get to have some quality of life.
What have we come to where we can get so angry at someone being given just a tiny amount of support while we have those with the most exploiting the vast majority in society to gain even more? Huge amounts of money, hundreds of billions, that could be used to invest in society and have multiplying effects that instead is either hidden in tax havens or hoarded by just a few thousand people that would otherwise be used to give everyone, tens of millions of people, in society a decent standard of living.
What have we come to when anger is so misplaced and unwarranted yet those where anger really belongs are untouched and allowed to continuously and monstrously exploit the very people that are angry at those with so little?
How can these people not see the absurdity of their attitudes and actions?
How can people not be ashamed of how they view and how they treat their fellow human beings?
How can people not see that they’re being manipulated into hating people that don’t even exist?
How can people not see the devastating effects that their attitudes are having on those already suffering?
How does it not bother some people that their fellow citizens are needlessly dying?
How does it not bother some people that they have some responsibility in the suffering of and even deaths of tens of thousands of their fellow citizens?
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