Employment and Support Allowance uses conditionality and sanctions to try and get sick and disabled people into work. Through the Work Programme, the strategy fails in 95% of cases. At the same time the government is cutting Disability Living Allowance, the very support system that helps many people to gain or retain employment.
Under the replacement benefit, Personal Independence Payments, people like Sandra are set to lose the support that keeps them in jobs they love:
"I have Poland's Syndrome, arthritis, mild scoliosis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I've always needed help with stuff. Eight years ago I also developed ME. I can't walk far. I'm in constant pain despite taking a range of pain killers, anti inflamatories and anti spasmodics. I become exhausted quickly and unable to move; I have brain fog when I'm overtired. I forget words, and don't make sense. Some days I'm too tired to shower. Some days I can't think. Some days I'm OK, just very slow.
I get Disability Living Allowance. The DLA pays to run my car so I can go out of the house. Without it, I'd be trapped unless someone took me out. With it, I can work part time as I can drive to my job. I pay more in tax than I receive in benefit. I love having my job, I feel useful.
My life has changed drastically and without the support of my husband, children and friends it would be much worse. My husband and my children enable me to have a life."