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A Hostile Environment - briefing to Labour on DWP's treatment of disabled people

Briefing to John McDonnell MP, Margaret Greenwood MP and Marsha de Cordova MP on my research into disabled people's experiences of conditionality and sanctions


With the introduction of ESA, disabled people in the “Work-Related Activity Group” (WRAG) were supposed to receive “personalised support” to move towards work. But research among 500 ESA WRAG claimants strongly indicates that there was nothing supportive about DWP and its contractors’ interaction with disabled people. 

The design and operation of so-called “back to work” programmes blamed disabled people for their exclusion from the workplace and set us up for failure and punishment. It involved disability denial and routine breaches of DWP’s duties under the Equality Act. Not only did Jobcentre Plus and Work Programme interventions fail to address the real, structural barriers to work that disabled people face, but they resulted in deterioration in all aspects of health, social inclusion and wellbeing and were a breeding ground for fear and despair. 

“This experience has been one of the most, if not the most, demoralising, dehumanising

experiences of my entire life.” (Survey respondent)




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