Jo challenges Minister on JobCentre cuts at first Scottish Questions outing


Jo has called for individualised help to get incapacity benefit claimants back into work

Labour’s job cuts in the Department for Work and Pensions will do nothing to help Scotland’s 285,000 incapacity benefit claimants back into work, according to Jo Swinson MP.

Questioning Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Darling for the first time in the House of Commons since being appointed Shadow Scottish spokesperson, Jo asked:

“There are still 285,000 people in Scotland on incapacity benefit, many of whom would like to return to work. How will the loss of 1500 staff from the DWP in Scotland over the next 2 years, on top of the 1500 jobs already axed, help these claimants get the assistance they need to find work?”

Mr Darling responded by pointing to the Government’s investment in IT projects and the New Deal.

Speaking after the debate, Jo commented:

“Thanks to the investment in IT projects that the Minister referred to, benefits claimants are beset by delays at every stage of the applications process. Meanwhile, the Work and Pensions Select Committee has concluded that job cuts were poorly planned and rushed through. We have already seen strike action from JobCentre Plus staff, with the threat of more to come.

“I support efficiency drives and the slimming of Government bureaucracy where appropriate, though not at the expense of service provision, and not regardless of the damage that cuts can cause.

“Over 40% of those people claiming incapacity benefit have been doing so for more than five years. The need dedicated, individualised help to return to work, which is not going to be delivered by the Government’s latest round of DWP job cuts.

“The current benefit system acts as a disincentive for disabled people looking to return to work, as they risk losing benefits if they do not meet minimum requirements for weekly working hours. We should be considering ways to help disabled people back into work that offer flexibility and take into account the fluctuating nature of many disabilities, as well as the fatigue from which many disabled people suffer.”

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