Few benefits in shake-up

 Cynicism is an unattractive trait, but it is hard to avoid it when faced with the government’s proposals for overhauling incapacity benefit. Why cannot ministers just own up to the fact that they want to reduce the benefits bill and spare us all this talk about “empowerment” and “liberating talent”?

And do they really believe that there are as many as one million people languishing at home on incapacity benefit who are going to leap up from their sofas where they watch daytime TV and go and get a job?

Most who claim incapacity payments would love to work but are not in a fit state to hold down a job, even assuming there were enough vacant posts for them to move into. Suitable employment for this group is scarce and employers shy away from recruiting those with a history of illness or incapacity.

This so-called carrot and stick approach will almost inevitably end up as more stick and less carrot. Yet again the government seems to be stealing the Tories’ clothes with an exercise in benefit cuts that appears to owe more to appeasing the Daily Mail than to genuinely addressing the needs of vulnerable groups. Or is that being too cynical?

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