Financial Times, May 27th 2008, p. 4
Research by the Department for Work & Pensions shows that around 64,000 long-term sick and disabled people in England have found work under the government's Pathways to Work employment programme.
The Times, May 14th 2008, p.1
Alistair Darling has borrowed £2.7 billion which should provide those on middle and low incomes an extra £120 this year in an attempt to end rows over the 10p tax rate. It is the first time in living memory that income tax has been changed within a financial year. The money will be received by tax-payers through a £60 lump-sum in September followed by an extra £10 a month until the end of the financial year. This has been achieved by raising the starting point for paying tax by £600.00. Frank Field who led the 10p rebellion gave an unreserved apology for his recent attack on Gordon Brown.
(See also The Times, May 14th 2008, p. 4; Daily Telegraph, May 14th 2008, p.1+2; The Guardian, May 13th 2008, p. 10 and May 14th 2008, p. 1 & 8)
Daily Telegraph, May 7th 2008, p. 4
The government has decided to spend £1.5m on lie detectors to identify people making fraudulent benefits claims. The technology monitors telephone calls by claimants and detects changes in voice frequency. It then performs mathematical calculations to identify different categories of emotional content and pinpoint suspicious callers.
Labour Research, May 2008, p. 12-15
The government is introducing tests that will make it tougher for sick and disabled people to claim benefits. The new testing regime, known as the Work Capability Assessment, is being introduced in Autumn 2008 for new claimants alongside a new Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) that will replace Incapacity Benefit. Those assessed as unable to work will receive the ESA at an enhanced rate, but those judged able to work will be expected to attend a programme of work focused interviews and then to seek employment. People who refuse to co-operate may have their benefits cut. However, the reforms do not tackle the issue of the discrimination that disabled people face in the labour market.
Mental Health Today, May 2008, p. 8-9
The Black report on the health of the working age population, Working for a Healthier To-morrow, recommends the creation of a new Fit for Work Service. This would offer a multi-disciplinary case management service to which GPs could refer patients coming to them to be signed off work long-term. The service would provide a wide range of health interventions and support to keep people in employment. This article reports on a number of existing initiatives offering such services.