8 thoughts on “UK: scandal ridden David Blunkett resigns

  1. NEWS LINE [Britain] lead article: Thursday May 19 2005


    New Work and Pensions Secretary David Blunkett [infamously involved in scandal of illegality to please his then mistress; who also attacked his government colleagues] has said ‘as a nation, we need everyone who can work to work not just to fund services but to fund future pensions.’

    Commenting on plans to ‘reform’ incapacity benefit he said he intends to ‘facilitate a return to employment’.

    Public sector union UNISON yesterday cautioned against pressurising people into work.

    A UNISON spokesman told News Line: ‘There are people drawing incapacity benefit who want to work. The problem is getting employers to change their policies and procedures, even giving interviews.

    ‘But once you are saying to people “we are going to stop your benefit if you haven’t found work” that’s putting people in a difficult position.
    ‘It’s not a case of not trying or people just sitting around.’

    Blunkett claimed the majority of people currently claiming incapacity benefit wanted to be employed.

    Blunkett added: ‘Work is actually good for you, not just because you earn a living and you’re independent and dignified but actually it’s good for you in terms of your health.’

    Lorna Reith, Chief Executive, Disability Alliance, said of the government’s plans: ‘We are deeply concerned about the amount of power that could be given to officials in Jobcentre Plus offices.

    ‘Is the DWP seriously suggesting that junior Jobcentre Plus staff are to decide whether or not someone who’s had a mental breakdown is ready to start looking for work?

    ‘Or someone still undergoing chemotherapy [for cancer] should be ringing up employers?

    ‘We are appalled at the idea that people in this position would be penalised by having their benefit pegged at the poverty level of £55 per week.’

    Blair and Blunkett want to see 80 per cent of people of working age in a job.

    Blunkett said yesterday he didn’t ‘want a fight, with anybody, least of all the Disability Alliance’.

    But he stressed: ‘It is absolutely crucial that we distinguish between those who can and cannot work.’

    Disability Alliance’s Reith told News Line yesterday: ‘A lot of disabled people do want to work but they need help and support.

    ‘We’d like to hear what carrots and sticks the government has in mind for employers, because so far the whole concentration has been on disabled people who are not in work.

    ‘The prime minister was talking about respect. In our view, people make a contribution to society in many ways. It’s not just those in employment who deserve respect.

    ‘One thing they are not talking about is carers. If the carers were all in work, who will be doing the caring?!’

    Mental health charity MIND said legislation was welcome ‘as long as the needs of individuals are at the forefront of any reform’.

    The number of people out of work and claiming benefit rose by 8,100 to 839,400 in April, official figures show.

    Jobs continued to be lost in manufacturing, which reached a record low of 3.23 million in the quarter to March, with 82,000 fewer people employed in manufacturing than in the same period a year ago.

    These figures do not cover recent heavy job losses at MG Rover, IBM and Marconi.

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