Glossary of DWP speak

What ministers say… and what they mean.


What they say

What they mean

Fit to work

Somebody suffering from an incapacitating condition, whose heart still beats



Tough but fair

Punitive and arbitrary

Unconditional support

Conditional support



Hardworking people

High-income earner


Somebody who works for a low salary and doesn’t object to a pay cut. Alternatively, somebody who works for a high salary and doesn’t object to a pay rise


Somebody who is temporarily too ill to work, and therefore in receipt of statutory sick pay


Somebody who prefers to work in return for a salary, rather than in return for no salary


(i) To terminate something. (ii) To sell something. (iii) To pay a private company to do something.

Independent review

Pamphlet written by a partisan hireling to reaffirm policies and whitewash potential problems


Inconvenient expert testimony

Abusing the system

Exercising rights

Welfare savings

Social security cuts

Successful court outcome

A lost court case

Something for nothing culture

A social security system in which support is based on need, and receipt is subject to strict conditions

Ending the something for nothing culture

Exploiting public miscomprehension and encouraging envy, in order to diminish aspects of the social security system, so that it no longer protects anybody from being left impoverished

Off benefits


Off benefits and into work


Trapped on benefits

Provided with a limited degree of financial support, on the basis of circumstantial need

Making work pay

Leaving pay rates unaffected, and reducing the level of unemployment support

Simplifying the system of support

Undermining the range of support available

Targeting support to those who need it most

Taking support away from people with complex, fluctuating disabilities

Improving work incentives

Pushing people who are unemployed into such a depth of poverty that even in-work poverty is a step-up