The UK Independence Party (UKIP) in government would end “unfair Atos-style disability benefit assessments”, deputy chairman Suzanne Evans has said.
In a move which may surprise many of our readers, who rightly (in our view) consider UKIP to be more right-wing than the Tories, Suzanne said her party would take a “firm but very fair approach” to the benefits system.
Even writing about UKIP is something we at the Welfare News Service feel deeply uncomfortable about, but in the interest of balance (and non-party bias) we must.
Labour has pledged to reform ‘fit for work’ tests, but has so far stopped short of promising to scrap the controversial system entirely. It is unclear as to what UKIP would replace the disability benefit assessments with, if anything.
Writing on the parties website she said UKIP “recognises the need for Government to provide a strong safety net when circumstances prevent people being self-sufficient financially”.
However, she also made it clear that her party in government would send a “clear statement that welfare abuses would not be tolerated”, referring to an extreme minority (0.7%) of individuals who attempt to cheat the system.
Suzanne Evans writes that UKIP’s position on welfare would be set out using “two core principles”: rewarding people who have paid more in national insurance with higher benefits, and demanding that migrants contribute to the economy before they can “take from it” – through the introducing of a “five-year embargo” on new benefit claims.
UKIP would “pay more to job seekers who’ve already paid tax and national insurance for five years”, writes the deputy chairman, but clamp down “on benefits for migrants”.
The initial statement will worry sick and disabled people, who may not have been able to contribute as much in national insurance compared to fit and able-bodied individuals, who will fear that this may mean they would have to settle for less if UKIP ever gets a taste of power.
As well as pledging to put an end to disability benefit assessments and addressing (overstated) benefit fraud, Suzanne said UKIP would also tackle so-called “welfare tourism”, which some experts (on both sides of the English Channel) insist doesn’t exist.
UKIP would also stop child benefit payments from being paid for “children who don’t live here” and limit all child benefit claims to no more than two children.
The party say they would also scrap the highly controversial ‘bedroom tax’ and may consider removing sex and relationship education for primary school children.
Labour has already pledged to axe the ‘bedroom tax’ if they win a majority in the next general election. The same promise has been made by the SNP, if the event that welfare powers are devolved to Scotland.