BBC OnePanorama


Page last updated at 10:51 GMT, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 11:51 UK

Britain on the Sick

Peter and Rita
Panorama: Britain on the Sick was broadcast on BBC One at 8.30pm on Monday 19 May 2008
Thank you for sending us your comments on Panorama: Britain on the Sick.

The debate is now closed but a selection of your comments are published below.

I am 49 y/o and work full time for a low wage. I find this depressing! Can someone explain how I get this ticket to free money and benefits, especially as Mr G. Brown sees fit to burden the lower paid worker with more taxes.
Mr Bush, Bridgend Wales

The message coming out of this 'documentary' is that Britain has a combined physical and mental health epidemic to which successive governments have only come up with one successful collective contribution to date: how to create it.
Michael, Huddersfield

I am 62 male, from apprentice to Director, just taken off IB after 14 yrs. Still suffering with back pain and depression due to being unable to work. Who will employ me ? Where are the jobs? Jobcentreplus tell me there are 50 applicants for each vacancy. Maybe the government should employ those taken off IB and leave the fit to fight for the private jobs, I wonder what will happen to the unemployment figures? Will they begin to tell the true story. I would love to work! Any offers? I am sure the BBC will pass them on to me.
D N Hewlett, Wiltshire

The people showcased on the programme at least materially seem quite comfortable. My wife and I pay over 2000 in tax every month and it hurts to know that our money pays for these people. I have lived most of my life in India where life is visibly harsh and cruel with very little opportunity to arrogantly and blatantly sponge off anyone. The UK is certainly very soft on these people.
GB, London

I am a London NHS GP whom has a sub-interest in health and worklessness. Successive governments have tried to tackle this issue but fail to realise that they need to tackle the issue of HOW people fall into worklessness. I get on average in my relatively small practice at least 3-4 people going on Incapacity Benefit EVERY week. Usually I might add that this is DESPITE what I write on the forms. The majority of these new entrants into worklessness these days are due to relatively straightforward and curable common mental health problems which are not treated in a timely fashion, poor human resources management by employers and simply apathy. I have attempted to challenge successive ministers on this but find that they send me standard responses which again are fixated on trying to push those established on IB back into the workplace. The pace of people going on IB is a scandal.
Dr Shahid Dadabhoy, London, UK

Instead of targeting people on benefits, the government should target the employers as they don't like taking people on when they have been on sickness benefits due to health problems as they are not as reliable as healthy people. I myself have health problems which I will have for the rest of my life and have tried to get a job, but due to my health I may have to take time off work for hospital or doctors appointments. They didn't want to know me. .
Louise, M, Bridlington, UK

I wonder would the government not consider setting up a working group of Incapacity Benefit claimants to enlist their ideas how to reduce the benefit bill and to get more back into employment. Your programme featured a professor who, although is probably very capable and knowledgeable, would not have experienced long-term incapacity and the associated exclusion from society. A multi-agency working group made up of Incapacity Benefit claimants, employers, medical professionals etc. may be very useful. The government could actually listen to the people most effected by this situation.
David Stewart, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

As Head of Volunteering for Macmillan Cancer Support I was disappointed that options to assist people return to work did not include reference to volunteering. We have several examples of particularly young people (but not exclusively) who develop skills and confidence in the work place by volunteering for us.
Philip Rosser, London

The overall impression from the programme was that ALL people receiving benefits were scroungers. My 28 year old son Ross has a BA(Hons) degree and an ICT qualification. He desperately wants to work, he does not want to stay on benefits, he is physically fit and is highly intelligent. Unfortunately he has mild Aspersgers Syndrome and as a consequence he does not interview well and in spite of attending dozens of job interviews in the 5 years since he graduated, no one seems prepared to look beyond his disability and he is still out of work. Perhaps you could make a programme highlighting this problem. Brian Howells
Brian Howells, Upton upon Severn, Worcestershire

The programme failed to address why there has been such an increase (40%) in people going sick with mental health problems and perhaps Panorama should investigate this issue. It would most likely find it is due to people being under extreme pressure in their employment as well as suffering from workplace bullying by managers. Mr Timms MP stated that people with mental health problems are better off in employment. Does he really think that it is better for someone to suffer from depression, lack of confidence and stress which is obviously going to affect work performance? In my situation I am presently on Incapacity Benefit and have been for the past 3 years. As well as having had physical problems, I have also suffered from depression for the last 18 years. This started as a result of issues in the workplace (a government department), i.e. bullying, being accused of slowness which eroded my confidence. As a result I am unable to cope with any form of pressure in the workplace so perhaps Mr Timms can explain just how he can get me back to work.
Valerie Carolan, Belfast, N Ireland

As a person with many misunderstood disabilities. I am appalled that the government is attempting to force us into work. I have autism/dyslexia/fibromyalgia and have to wear certain glasses. I cannot cope with background noise or text written on fluorescent paper. Yes I want to work but it has to be the right environment. I live on my own and volunteer one afternoon a week in Bristol. being put in the wrong type of workplace could lead to severe mental health problems. We need more help to find work. 1/3 of employers say they would not employ someone on long term sick. The government needs to tackle that issue and enable people to legally challenge employers that refuse to interview disabled people under the Guaranteed Interview Scheme.
Alexis, nr Bristol UK

There will need to be a lot of support given to these people to get them 'job ready' including access to training and education. I don't think employers will bother with all of it, not when there are so many people waiting to fill vacancies without these issues to be addressed.
Tracey Copeland, London, England

This is not a reflection on the people. I can't believe they put these people in such a bad light. Its the government that is letting them get away with it. Some might agree that these people are smart for finding so many loopholes in the system. This government is absolutely ridiculous!
Hibi, London

The programme failed to discuss how the ruling class and governments have always blamed the poor for their own poverty right back to the enclosures and whipping and branding of 'unlicensed ' beggars (undeserving) who had been forced off the common land. The workhouses. The aim, as always , is to provide cheap labour for sweatshop capitalists. Nothing new here. Problem is that the incapacity tests do not include whether someone could hold a job down in today's high intensity workplaces. It will be useless anyway once the boom turns to slump and able bodied healthy trained and educated workers are laid off and so it goes on and on .
Dean Smith, Plymouth

Instead of giving people more money to get and keep a job, how about giving them less when they on incapacity benefits so that they actually need to get a job. If you have a bad back, desk jobs are great. If you suffer stress, then a job in a supermarket where you don't need to think should be fine. There are plenty of jobs out there for all different types of people. I think it is disgusting that people on incapacity benefits receive back to work payments and an extra 200 if they keep a job for more than 12 months. What about the rest of us who have actually worked all our lives where are our payments for staying in a job. Once again not working pays. Think by 2015 all of us will be on the sick, it pays.
Anon, Merthyr Tydfil

What Panorama didn't touch on is that you are basically forced into a life on the sick if you have ever been sectioned under the mental health act and detained in hospital more than once, even if you appear to recover.
John, Blackburn

My youngest sister has polio in one leg so she cannot walk properly. She has to wear heavy braces for support. Apart from this, she suffers from a host of allergies; this results in her having cold like symptoms every single day of the year with the accompanying problems. However, she is a qualified Chartered Accountant and till a week before her marriage last month had a high paying job with JP Morgan Chase. Now that she is married, she will work with her husband who is incidentally, also a CA, in his firm. Maybe it would be a good idea to bring her face to face with some of Britain's 'too sick to work' people and have them pitch their claim to her. And maybe the doctors who help people onto incapacity benefits at the drop of a hat would also do well to keep her example in mind.
Ratnakar Tiwari, London, UK

I'm on benefits due to a disability but understand the importance of work. I do voluntary work as it helps my community and provides me with stimulation, friends and skills. Why don't more people try that as a stepping stone back into work?
Louise, Oxford, England

I have just watched the programme regarding IB claimants and was disappointed. I currently work within the Jobcentre Plus as a Condition Management Practitioner. " A what you might ask?" Yes , we too are working alongside the IB P advisor & provide practical and therapeutic advice for a claimant to manage their condition. We are trained professionals - Occupational therapist, physiotherapists, nurses and social workers who deliver a wide range of therapies There was no mention of us and how beneficial our service is! We run 1:1 sessions and group work delivering a range of educational, confidence building and motivational sessions. Referrals are received from the IBP advisor and sessions run over a 14 week period. So far results are promising.
Karen Tate, Newcastle-upon-Tyne England

I am a burnt out teacher. I did my job until it psychologically wrecked me, don't tell me going back to work would be good for me!
Paul Wilkinson, Southwold

I work as a Police Officer on a busy city estate and see the total apathy of benefit claimants every day. Though not all are on incapacity benefits, there is clearly a generational influence where three or four generations of extended families will remain on benefits because this is the easiest option for them. The only way forward is to be absolutely cut-throat in the way that long term benefit claimants are dealt with; namely by taking away the incentive-money. I often feel like I'm being laughed at for bothering to have a job and working for a living and for this I blame the Government and its 'easy-ride' policies.
J Wood, Bristol, UK

Your programme Britain on the Sick was just another attack on the majority of people that are too sick to work and are being targeted by a government that is seeking for groups to blame, It use to be immigrants then they moved on to single mothers and now its the sick.
Adam, Gloucester

People who don't work and don't want to work should be kept on the bread line. Benefits are for genuine sicknesses of people who want to work. I am SICK of paying for these people to be lazy.
Neil Draper, Kirkby in Ashfield, Notts,

The Government will meet their target for the following reason. Within the next 10 years 1 million Incapacity Benefit claimants will reach the pensionable age of 65 for men and graduated from 60 to 65 for women and move off IB onto their OAP. The target will be reached by the Government doing absolutely nothing other than restricting new claimants. This didn't even get a mention on your programme!
John Stevens, London

Although I was aware of the fact that many people were on benefits I was shocked to here the real facts. I spent 21 years in the armed forces leaving in 1993, I have continued to work since. Why should these 'lazy' people be allowed to do absolutely nothing - there are many jobs out there that people with some health problems could still do. Instead of paying benefits our taxes could be used you assist education and health. I'm not a moaner - just do a fair days work for a fair days pay - don't rely on the rest of us to support you for the whole of your life! It's no wonder we are known too well abroad for our laziness !!
Rob Edge, Birmingham. United Kingdom

The real scandal revealed in this programme was not so much the Incapacity Benefit bill of 2.6B, but the fact that the London Olympics is costing almost as much. Also very little was said about the government's privatisation of Jobcentreplus, with the majority of employment programmes being taken over by profit-making companies who answer to their shareholders - not the people they're supposed to be helping back to work.
David Bain, Edinburgh

I have been back at work for five years after going off incapacity benefit, since when I have had to go bankrupt and lost my home. The help is not there when you return to work, and the housing benefit system in particular is failing people who are working.
Margaret Garbutt, Alloa Scotland

For many on incapacity benefit the perks are too good. It appear, the "perk" outweigh government work incentives.
Glenda Ward, St. Andrews, Fife Scotland

I would not employ long term sick. A small business cannot afford to pay 26 weeks ssp when they go off on the sick. The government need to change the way unemployed and sick are paid benefits as they are paid more for sitting at home than if they work. The attitude of some young people in work is awful even in work and think that all they see is the lazy louts are sitting at home being paid more than them. Unless this changes I see a bitter Britain not a great Britain!!
Sharon Forrester, Bathgate Scotland

I'm an occupational therapist working in NHS mental health services. I would estimate that 99% of the people I work with actually want to work. What stops them? Well known barriers such as the benefit trap, often it's the time they've been away from work and thus the thought of returning may exacerbates anxiety/depression. It can be loss/lack of skill or simply just the wrong kind of heavy handed PRESSURE - the more pressured people feel the more likely they are to retreat or maybe end up in a job which doesn't suit them - which in turn may end up with higher stress level and consequently may lead to mental health problems. ...I could go on, but rehabilitation is, in my opinion the missing link and encouragement to do / recognition of voluntary work to build on skills / gain qualifications etc. We need to encourage people to work in a job they feel proud of.
Liz Dry, Chesterfield, England

After watching this programme I am of the opinion the Government should concentrate its efforts on the long term unemployed as 90% have never paid income tax or national insurance whereas and receive money for nothing whilst a large majority of Incapacity Benefit recipients have worked, paid into the system and do not receive the same benefits as the unemployed. Those in IB have to pay contributions to rent, council tax, pay for prescriptions (unless pre-exemption form) and not qualify to have fuel payments taken from benefits. Therefore it is my view that the long term unemployed cost the government more money than the sick. We are being discriminated and bullied into employment.
Dawn Nelson, Dunfermline, Fife

O yet again the BBC is embroiled in propaganda showing a biased, unfair and unjust view of Merthyr Tydfil! When making this programme did it not cross the producers narrow mind that a large proportion of young people in Merthyr are working damn hard to get an education and gain a foot on the career ladder - i suggest not! Sweeping statements that infer that the aim of those who work is to placed on benefits do great harm for those alike myself that have fought against prejudices and preconceptions. May I suggest that instead of showing the predictable neglected and deprived areas of Merthyr Tydfil you show the regenerated areas that that the people of Merthyr have worked damn hard to get - of coarse we all know this side of Merthyr isn't newsworthy enough for Panorama but lets be fair this sub standard programme is hardly going to gain any prizes for creativity!
Louise Pritchard, Merthyr Tydfil

I watched with disgust at the program about the long term sick in Wales, I have a 40% disability and a whole boat load of other medical problems and still hold down a full time job of 48 Hrs a week even though I am taking pain killers like morphine so I can work. Yes I do want to retire early but I have worked with this disability for some 35 years and have worked nearly all my life since leaving school, I think that the Government should make those who can earn their sick pay along with those on the dole by pushing a broom to earn their monies and NOT hand outs!! No names please, many thanks.
Mr K. O'Rourke, Tamworth

After observing carefully Monday 19th May programme on Merthyr Tydfil I felt disgusted! As a proud resident Of Merthyr Tydfil. I feel I have been classed like a benefit scrounger! However it is unbelievable to think that being on the sick will bring in 20,000 pounds a year which is the equivalent wage I am earning as a full time class teacher!!
Miss Catherine Berrington, Merthyr Tydfil

Appalled at this documentary Yes the town has it problems, but the way this documentary has been filmed e.g. only showing bad parts of town, run down buildings and areas of neglect is shocking. Not one mention of the nearby opencast tip , just 35 meters from the nearest homes. Clearly sickness and any potential sickness related to this does not matter. The documentary was nothing more than sensationalism. As a life long and working resident I thank the BBC for the one sided and wrong impression given of the town.
Neil Hancock, Merthyr Tydfil , Wales

The Government should quit hounding and harassing Benefit Claimants and leave them alone, successive Governments have used Terrorist tactics against Benefit Claimants. On your Programme the Government committed Benefit Fraud and Human Rights abuse by stopping the Basic Benefit of a Claimant, as indeed they have done with me many times before now. The first duty of any Government is to keep people Alive, not to constantly threaten the minimum amount of money that the Law says a person needs to Live on. It is also not the first duty of a Government to find cheap labour for Businesses, nor to pander to the hatred of Benefits Claimants as espoused so often by the Middle Classes and the Elderly, and encouraged by the Media. You said that the Bill for IB is 16 billion pounds, why not add another 5 billion for those on JSA making 21 billion in total. The Government spends over 600 billion, so the Bill is less than 3.5 percent of expenditure. What would we rather spend the money on? Jobcentre and other bureaucrats who tick boxes for a Living? Illegal Wars? Nuclear Weapons? The Government has no Money, it's our Money, and we should prefer it to be spent according to an Enlightened and Compassionate agenda, not creating suffering and social injustice.
Brian, Huddersfield, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Congratulations to Panorama for their in-depth programme about the reasons why so many people are 'on the sick'. This complex and emotive issue was sensitively handled, but it is a pity that the programme did not include the voice of employers. Their perspective is crucial in understanding how people who have the kinds of disabilities we saw in the programme can and do work. Negative assumptions about disability and work are common, and Employers' Forum on Disability works to address these by providing practical advice, support and training to employers. Our 400 members represent organisations that employ around 20 per cent of the UK workforce. With one in eight employees in the UK having a disability such as a mental health problem, our members know that being 'disability confident' is not just good for unemployment figures, but also makes business sense.
Liz , London, England

Some of the responses here highlight the sort of problems that this subject creates. That is those who think that all, or most, IB claimants are frauds. Claims like there are "far too many people scamming", etc. Where are the figures to support this? How many claims are fraudulent? IB claimants are an easy target. There is a lot more money lost to the state by income tax evasion/avoidance. Yet a blind eye is frequently turned to this activity, and often actively encouraged. Yes, of course there are those getting IB who should not. On the other hand there are those who are entitled to it who don't get it, due in part to pressure to reduce the figures.
Steven Kefford, Buckingham

It's time the work shy in this country are made to pay I reckon if they paid me back for what I've put into the pot I could retire now at 57 I've been married had 2 children who are now grown up and in full time employment I'm self employed and only JUST making a living, if I'm sick tomorrow I'm on my own, no benefits - mmm think I'll register with my G.P. as depressed
Agnes pope, Lossiemouth Scotland

Nice to see everyone on the sick with nice houses and nice cars wish i could afford a nice new car like those people. I unfortunately have worked all my life more fool me i feel quite ill all of a sudden.
Tony Humpleby, Newcastle, England

I have suffered from bipolar or manic depression since 1984. I am a skilled design draughtsman and managed to stay employed until 2001, when I eventually lost my contract after taking an overdose and ending up in intensive care. I haven't worked since. I lost a number of jobs throughout my career. I had to had to hide the truth about my condition from employers sometimes lie about the real reasons for being off work to keep my job. As long as the government focus remains one of taking people of sickness benefit to cut the social benefits budget rather than supporting the special needs and requirements of people like myself with mental health issues into work, whilst in work and when things go wrong. Then there's little Incentive to attempt to return. Particularly when the expectation is that once in work you will continue to be in work for the foreseeable future. work.
Richard Bassil, Southampton England

As a pathways to work adviser I can honestly say that this system works when implemented correctly. Every day I help the long term unemployed realise the benefits to employment and make the transition into work. There will always be those who are unable to work, but who are we to make the assumption that because someone has a health condition, that they are unable to work. The view is changing and most people just need educating that help and support is there if they wish to make that change.
Pamela Baines, Fleetwood

My husband and i both work in Merthyr Tydfil we struggle to pay rising bills like all your families in the programme. We have no help what so ever if we cannot pay something. Since watching your programme i feel depressed because if i was on the sick i could be better off because my days would be my own to do what i wanted, and i wouldn't have to worry about poll tax, rent or other bills i would get them all paid. Then when i decided to go back to work i would have all the extra help to help me train which i am currently struggling to fund myself at the moment and i could have a clothing allowance for clothes to go to interview. Why bother trying to work for a living I personally think the government don't want to worry about the million it needs to get off the sick but the million that will want to join it have seeing your programme. Why work????
Sian Nicholls, Merthyr Tydfil Mid Glam

The government should change the benefit system so that people are better off working than being on the sick or on the dole. At the moment the government wastes millions of pound trying to get people to get back to work when all they need to do is cut all benefits to no more than 90 a week the same that a pensioner is expected to live on. They should stop all family tax credits and allowances but increase the threshold at which people pay tax. Therefore people that work would be better off and would not need to depend on the government for handouts.
P. Johnson, Leeds, England

A poor and bias representation was shown in the so-called documentary this evening. There are many people that are too sick to work and programmes such as this only apply more pressure on these people. Shame on you Panorama for not giving a more balanced representation of the reality for people that are too sick to work!
Bella, Winchester, Hampshire

This programme summed up a lot I've seen working in South Wales and the south-west. I'm from Newcastle and have epilepsy but it hasn't allowed me to become apathetic. These people are leaching our country dry, whilst probably undermining those who try and improve those around them. What chance for their younger generations? What an arrogant short term outlook they have. This needs to be stopped for their own good and ours.
Eddies Smithe, London

I am astonished that 'Panorama' did not state that repeated government investigations into recipients of Incapacity Benefit have found that fraudulent claims represent less than 3% of the total number of Incapacity Benefit claims. Yet again, it seems that Incapacity Benefit claimants are being singled out as scapegoats. This seems to happen regularly. It is a pity that the same degree of government 'concern' is not directed toward those who evade or avoid paying their due taxes.
Christopher Williams, Bristol - UK

Stephen Timms and the rest of the government need to start at the root of the problem. In my case I have been on incapacity benefit for three years now and since I injured my back at work the doctors have prescribed me thousands of painkillers, an appointment with a consultant every six months or so etc instead of fast tracking me for the right surgical procedure. Therefore part of the problem lies with the NHS meeting their targets and expenditure. One final point, there are a lot of people on disability fitter than me!
Gary, Manchester

It is morally wrong that a situation has been allowed to develop where people can earn more on benefits than those who are working for low wages. There should be a clear difference of, say 10% to 20%, between those in work and those on benefit to encourage people to improve their lot by working for a living.
George Cranston, Lincoln UK

Moving people from 'Incapacity' to other forms of benefits will be of most benefit to the private sector rather than claimants. Removing an individual from Incapacity to unemployment benefit means they automatically receive free prescriptions, dental and eye treatments. What is lost in benefit is made up by an increase in Council Tax and Housing Benefit. The Private sector will benefit to the tune of millions of pounds of government money as they are given the lucrative though impractical task of training and finding employment for those forced onto the job market in areas where there is little employment.
Gareth Lane, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

I think that it's good that this country is sorting out the people on the sick, fair play to the family that got them jobs, good on u. There are too many people scamming the system and have got away with it, me and my partner work full time and can only afford to go on holidays once a year and there are people on the sick that go 2 or 3 times a year, they should be thrown off and made to find work, if they are unable to work then fair enough. I work in a very stressful job but am I on the sick with stress or depression? No i got to earn my money the hard and honest way
Craig, Merthyr

I have no objection to anyone being on Incapacity Benefit if they really cannot work for whatever reason, but fail to see why it is paid at a higher rate than Job Seekers/Income Support. It is currently paid at 63.75 for the 1st 28 wks, 75.40 for wks 29-52 rising to 84.50 from wk 53. You can receive additions for a spouse and dependant children + the highest Long Term rate also awards a disability premium for Housing + Council Tax Benefit. Although it is based on N.I contributions which have to have been made during a qualifying period, once awarded it can be paid indefinitely. It is a complete farce.. Income Support + JSA Income Based are both passported benefits which give free prescriptions/eye tests/dental care/school dinners and full Housing and Council Tax Benefit. In addition to this, those with genuine disabilities are entitled to Disability Living Allowance. Incapacity Benefit should be scrapped completely.
Laura Burnell, Saffron Walden uk

I would be classed as one of Brown's millions. Not worked and been on Income Support, Incapacity Benefit and DLA since the onset of Epilepsy two years ago which is uncontrolled. I have daily seizures which leave me tired, unable to concentrate, lose balance or just come out with total garbage. I walk with a walking stick due to the side effects of the medication, and I have been on several forms. I would love a job but know that I would be unable to keep a job whether it be full time, part time or any time as I can only just about cope with my day to day life.
EppyAndy, Rochdale

What I find difficult to understand is why benefits are so generous. I would not like to see people without a roof over their heads or hungry etc, but living comfortably and driving new cars? Surely you should be struggling a little? I'm a manager working approx 50 hours a week and take home around 400 per week. The sick in the programme say it's not worth working unless they get at least 300 to take home for doing nothing at all - reduce the over generous benefit system and perhaps they will be more likely to actively seek work. If I were to be out of work, I would do any job rather than sponge off the state. No wonder taxes are so high in the UK.
Ron, Mansfield, Notts, England.

Last night's programme missed a very important point. Being 'on the sick' as you clumsily called it never mentioned that if you are not working - you quickly lose touch with society, you don't have any part of it, you don't have a role and to return to work makes you part of society again.
Peter Watts, Dorchester, UK

You missed all the dirty tricks used to prevent genuine cases receiving entitlement. In December 2007, I had a medical for Incapacity benefit and was given it until 2012 when I will be 63. I have diabetes and serious complications because of obesity and depression. I have just been denied at a tribunal for DLA using the same medical. The defence used was based on several lies - the main one that I had walked 400 metres to and from the car park. My wife dropped my father and myself outside the door. The medical lasted two minutes, the rest of the time the doctor seemed to put any answer he pleased into the computer. Most of the physical examination did not happen. I am appalled you did not check out these facts which are common the CAB site.
Al Bryce, Selby, North Yorkshire, UK

The programme didn't feature people with chronic and often life threatening illnesses who are also on Incapacity Benefit & DLA who are having their benefits reduced or even withdrawn and then having to appeal to get the benefits restored. The media always seem to feature people who appear to be "playing the system" yet so far haven't mentioned the private companies who are now in charge of the benefit system using bully boy tactics to target vulnerable people to get them off benefits. I have Multiple Sclerosis and would love to go back to work but I doubt whether I'd be able to cope with a full time job, and as the programme pointed out where are these jobs the government wants the sick & disabled to do. The new tougher rules for benefits will mean that many genuine existent claimants will not qualify for the new ESA benefit.
Stephen Frost, Manchester UK

The programme focussed too much on individual cases of those on Incapacity Benefit without information on the real issues. The fact of the matter is that the Employment Service and Social Security Departments have been merged and offices closed with a reduction in staff and the standard of service. In introducing the concept of "well notes" it would seem that GPs are expected to act as careers advisors. This system is doomed to failure as GPs already have too much paperwork.
John Newcombe, Paignton, United Kingdom

I do think there is a real danger with this move, especially forcing certain people with mental health problems back to work. I am absolutely certain there will be an increase of work related suicides due to bullying in the workplace. I also think that Panorama misled the viewer in regards to how much money people on Incapacity actually get. They get more than Income Support yes, but the difference is immediately taken back off them in rent, council tax & many pay for their own prescriptions. They actually end up far worse off than people on Income Support. Whatever their incapacity is therefore, isn't being catered for at all. Those particularly with extreme mental health problems & social outcast issues, that should actually be on Disability Living Allowance, are deprived of this. They get no support from Social Services or a CPNs either, because there aren't enough of them & the waiting lists are long. The government are playing a dangerous game here. On the one hand there are people on Incapacity that could easily work, but there are also a lot of neglected people with severe mental health problems in our society who have basically been left to rot. They will become far more dangerously ill if they're forced back to work in a society where they just do not fit in & will be a target of ridicule. They are just numbers to this government & I fear subjectivity won't come into it. It's potentially a very dangerous situation.
Louise, Manchester, England

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