David CameronWe are not surprised that Conservative leader David Cameron has no idea what life is like when you rely on incapacity benefit, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised in his complete fail at basic maths, either.

The Tories say they intend to reassess everyone on Incapacity Benefit to see if they are fit for work, within three years of a Conservative election victory.

Aethelread the Unread takes a look at the maths and works out what that would cost.

So, let’s review. David Cameron is proposing

a minimum £14,565,600 increase in the annual public sector wage bill;

a 148% increase in the number of publicly-funded medical examination centres;

an unknown increase in the number of civil servants in the DWP to process the additional paperwork;

an unknown increase in the number of civil servants required to process an unquantified number of appeals against the removal of benefit.

This is all based on the presumption, for which he has advanced no evidence, that a staggeringly high proportion – one fifth – of those receiving Incapacity Benefit are capable of work, and that these hundreds of thousands of fraudsters (assuming they exist) will be flushed out by this process. This is despite the fact that every single IB claimant has already been through multiple medical assessments of the kind he is proposing, and has been repeatedly found to be incapable of work.

Of course, a good politician would never let anything like the facts get in the way of a policy suggestion designed to thrill the readers of the Daily Mail.

And of course, people on incapacity benefits are a safe group to take a stab at – we are inherently unlikely to be able to gather together in large enough numbers to make any kind of publicly visible protest. Even if we were well enough, we probably couldn’t afford the travel costs, and would be too afraid of having our benefits stopped to risk putting our heads above ground. Most of us have to spend all our energy and other resources getting through life day by day. Politicians are safe to pontificate and lie about us, knowing they’re very unlikely ever to have to walk past groups of us protesting, and if they did there would be Daily Mail readers aplenty to shout out “why don’t you just go and get a job?”

And that will probably be the subject of my next post.

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