Some long-term sick and disabled people face being forced to work unpaid for an unlimited amount of time or have their benefits cut under plans being drawn up by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Mental health professionals and charities have said they fear those deemed fit to undertake limited amounts of work under a controversial assessment processcould suffer further harm to their health if the plans go ahead. The new policy, outlined by DWP officials in meetings with disabilities groups, is due to be announced after legal changes contained in clause 54 of the Welfare reform bill have made their way through parliament.
The policy could mean that those on employment and support allowance who have been placed in the work-related activity group (Wrag) could be compelled to undertake work experience for charities, public bodies and high-street retailers. The Wrag group includes those who have been diagnosed with terminal cancer but have more than six months to live; accident and stroke victims; and some of those with mental health issues.
In official notes from a meeting on 1 December last year, DWP advisers revealed they were not intending to put a time limit on the work experience placements.
16th February 2012