by Arran James
Tens of thousands of sick and disabled people in Scotland face being forced on to unpaid work programmes under threat of losing their benefits from tomorrow.
That is when disability claimants will become eligible for controversial mandatory “workfare” placements, according to new plans which have been quietly drawn up by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
People with a range of physical or mental health conditions could find themselves stacking shelves in high-street stores such as Tesco and Poundland, or cleaning private homes, under the new proposals.
Since the Government’s Work Programme began in June, tens of thousands of job seekers have been put on unpaid placements. Now some ill or disabled people are to be told that they must take unpaid positions or risk losing up to 70% of their employment support allowance (ESA).
Ironically, the new measures are coming into effect on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. A series of national protests against the Government’s workfare programmes will take place this week.
Leading Scottish charities have expressed serious concerns about people with disabilities being forced on to compulsory work placements.
Across the UK, some 340,000 disabled people have been placed in the work related activity group (WRAG), which means they must undertake a range of activities to help them get back to work, including training, job-hunting – and now mandatory work placements.
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