The Benefit System, THINK TANK - The Ideas Zone....!!!, Welfare to Work, Work Capability Assessment

– Minister denies ‘Workshy’ Attacks

Mr Grayling was giving evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee about the government’s efforts to move more people off incapacity benefit and its successor – Employment and Support Allowance – if they are capable of work.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling has denied claims the government had helped fuel press coverage labelling benefit claimants as “workshy”.

He told MPs that tabloid stories had left him “bemused” and he had been criticised for saying people should not be judged as “scroungers”.

But MPs told him there had been a “shocking” failure by ministers to sell welfare reforms as a good news story.

Labour’s Glenda Jackson said it had been sold as “attacking the workshy”.

Mr Grayling said that many people had been effectively abandoned on benefits and the aim of the WCA was to identify those who could return to work.

 “This is not about forcing people who can’t work into work.”

The Minister was challenged about press releases from the Department for Work and Pensions – and media coverage of the reforms which suggested many of those on incapacity benefit were “workshy”.

Ms Jackson asked him: “Why has the government sold this programme, or attempted to sell this programme, as attacking the workshy?… This has had a very serious impact on people out there.”


Committee chairman Dame Anne Begg said the DWP press release had stated that 70% of claimants “could work” – without stressing that 30% were eligible for Jobseekers Allowance and would require extra help to get ready for work and 40% “might be fit for work some time in the future – if they get better”.


Mr Grayling said neither he, nor Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, had used disparaging terms such as “scroungers” .

“We as ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions go out of our way to set out what we are doing in the context of helping people… and we don’t use some of the language that has been used on some outlets.”

He said he had gone to some lengths to stress the positive aspects of the plan – writing articles for newspapers, letters to local newspapers, webchats and meetings with voluntary groups and Jobcentre teams.

“Sometimes stories run in a way that completely bemuse me,” he said.

“The challenge for us, through the assessment process, is to re-energise those people and focus them on the things they can do.”

But he also said there was a “duty on the party of representative groups” – like charities – not to use “strong language” which could exacerbate concerns.

He said that he hoped that as the welfare reforms began to take effect, there would be more positive “role models” of people who had been long-term unemployed and had got back into work, who could help ease concerns among others.


Chris Collins

Business Development


  1. “Mr Grayling said that many people had been effectively abandoned on benefits and the aim of the WCA was to identify those who could return to work.”

    Oh, so unceremoniously kicking people off ESA when they ‘fail’ the WCA meaning they immediately lose all associated benefits (and the DWP are really sharp off the mark at informing Housing and Council Tax Benefit department that a claim has terminated) is eminently more favourable than them being ‘abandoned’ on benefits. I am sure that will go a long way towards ‘easing concerns’ of sick and disabled people who find this happening to them.

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