Posts tagged ‘flawed’

TOXIC ATOS REBRANDS AGAIN


 

Toxic Atos are again having to rebrand claiming

Following an independent review of the PIP assessment journey claimants experience in December 2014, Paul Gray recommended a number of changes to claimant communications to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Assessment Providers.
After consultation with DWP and reviewing our communications, we have introduced a new business name that better represents the work we do independently assessing PIP cases.
We believe Independent Assessment Services does this because: • It makes it clear that we are ‘independent’ providers, distinct from DWP • ‘Assessment’ explains the service we deliver assessing PIP cases more clearly than ‘healthcare’ does

It can rebrand as much as it likes, it  doesn’t stop the DWP destroying disabled people’s lives when being assessed and losing their money,  vehicles, jobs when they fail to be assessed correctly and leaving some so distraught their health actually deteriorates or they lose what income from working they had , and the worst case scenario is they are left housebound  when they lose their mobility vehicles.

The stories are now coming thick and fast towards those contractors, which Atos is one, of lies and malpractice of assessors. Capita is the other contractor whose reputation has also been tarnished badly .

65% of decisions are now being overturned on appeal, some just give up because they genuinely cannot cope with their health conditions and the long protracted process that it entails and the loss of vital income which helps with the extra costs they face as disabled people. Recently those with mental health were asked ‘why they had not killed themselves yet’ ! Reports given to DWP in a lot of cases are filled with fabrication, claim claimants.

One the eve of election night many are scared witless by these assessments praying to god that Labour are installed into Number 10 who have promised to scrap these assessments along with the notorious WCA assessments which Atos used to carry out until they left their contract early leaving Maximus to pick up the pieces.

Either way these assessments are going the same way,  should Labour get power this will need to be tackled head on to prevent serious preventable harm to those whom are struggling under the last 7yrs of horrific reforms to survive. Many thousands have died along the way, with Atos and the DWP blaming each other, but the blame lays fairly and squarely at the governments door for a badly thought out policy decision that has affected the disabled community on a grand scale, while blaming disabled people for being workshy,lazy , and faking disability which the general public have latched onto and left the disabled community easy targets of Hate Crime. Disabled people do not mind having a fair assessment given the public purse is helping them live independently, what they object to is being hounded to their graves and every waking moment being made scapegoats for a failed government policy that was only ever going to cause harm and they did not even have the decency to step in and stop this happening. The enquiry into PIP (Personal Independence Payments) was conveniently called off due to the fact Mrs May called a snap election in the hope of continuing these awful policies to cut the welfare bill of those they promised to protect.

The disabled community has been hit 9 times harder than any other section of society, for the failure of a society who no longer care, a department who is determined to put saving money over human life of a community that takes the least of the welfare budget.

 

Read here the Stakeholder Document to Advisors

https://www.scribd.com/document/350681967/DRG-Toolkit-for-Stakeholder-Mailing-010617

 

Read more here

https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/election-forces-mps-to-abandon-pip-inquiry-but-evidence-backs-up-dishonesty-claims/

https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/pip-assessment-lies-and-distortions-exposed-by-double-apology-to-claimant/

https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/pip-suicide-womans-sister-blames-barbaric-system-for-her-death/

https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/

 

Labour Returns to It’s Roots


Corby with mos book

 

Without a right-leaning New Labour leader, there is now an opportunity for the Labour Party to represent the people it was originally created to serve, writes MO STEWART.

There is an entire generation in Great Britain who have no knowledge of the original Labour Party, who confuse Tony Blair as its former leader and who have no comprehension of the damage the New Labour Party created.

 

Three consecutive general election wins for Tony Blair when leader of the New Labour Party was, by anyone’s standard, a significant achievement.  Blair was the Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007, was the youngest British Prime Minister since 1812 and was to became the longest serving (New) Labour Prime Minister which is an achievement not easily surpassed.

 

However, there was a reason why the party was called ‘New Labour’ as it broke away from its traditional roots, and engaged with right-leaning policies not dissimilar to those of the previous Conservative government. Efforts to impress the middle class voters were at the expense of the Labour heartlands and the workers the original Labour Party was created to protect.

 

Blair claimed to want to move the Party to what he called the ‘centre ground’ which, in reality, created right-leaning policies, which were in opposition to traditional Labour Party values. Under his leadership New Labour reduced what had been historic links with trade unions, abandoned what had been the Labour Party’s commitment to nationalisation and supported Britain’s entry into the European Union.

 

His landslide victory over the Conservatives in the 1997 general election was impressive following eighteen years of Tory rule and, for a while, all was well.  However, the longer Blair served as Prime Minister the more right-leaning policies were produced. He made every effort to attract the middle class vote, whilst distancing the party from the working class and the trade unions, whose members stopped voting at general elections in their hundreds of thousands as no political party represented them.

Blair’s embarrassing devotion to all things American meant that the regularly claimed “special relationship” between America and Great Britain was reflected in foreign policy, as Blair took this nation into a war in Afghanistan in 2001 we had no business fighting, which was used to give the Republican President Bush the moral justification for American hostilities.

 

On the domestic front, it was the Blair government who commissioned David Freud to investigate welfare funding.  As a consequence of a totally discredited 2008 report by Freud, Blair’s successor Gordon Brown was the New Labour Prime Minister who introduced welfare reforms.  The reforms permitted an unaccountable foreign corporate giant to reassess welfare claimants using the entirely bogus American influenced Work Capability Assessment (WCA), and was no longer in charge by the time it became obvious that the use of the WCA would kill people.

 

Time has moved on and Jeremy Corbyn was elected as the leader of the Labour Party, for the second time, in September 2016.  Never in the history of the party has there been such relentless personal abuse by Labour MPs still loyal to Blair , but opposition to Corbyn from some Blairite Labour MPs couldn’t muster the support he attracted from the grassroots membership of the Labour Party, who elected him to office.

 

Corbyn has rejected the austerity measures employed by the Tories, which were always guaranteed to cause preventable harm to the most vulnerable people in society.  He has also rejected the neoliberal politics employed by the Conservative, the Coalition and the New Labour governments, which created a free-for-all in the world markets, which eventually led to a world banking crisis in 2008.

 

Whilst grotesque salaries were offered to the few, Cameron used the banking crisis to justify the introduction of austerity measures in 2010.  The sick, the disabled and the poor have all suffered the most as a direct consequence of the austerity measures, as tax breaks were given to the wealthiest people in the country and corporate giants were permitted to fail to fund corporate taxes.

 

Devotion to neoliberal politics, together with austerity measures and a vast reduction in funding for essential public services by the Conservative government has created preventable harm and vast inequalities. There has been a return of Rickets to Britain for the first time since the Second World War, together with increases in Tuberculosis, which are linked to the savage Conservative/Coalition government austerity measures which meant that the poorest and the most vulnerable would be often left without food.

 

The answer to that is the desperate need for food banks generously supported by the British public, school breakfasts begrudgingly introduced by the Tories to reduce adverse commentary, to be replaced by nourishing hot school lunches if Labour are returned to power in the 2017 general election.

 

As leader of the Labour Party Corbyn would never agree to commit British military forces to another war zone at the behest of the Americans. He will return rights to British workers, stop the university students being plunged into debt when attending university and has promised to stop the dangerous WCA which has been linked to the deaths of almost 100,000 people since 2011.  This, together with a guaranteed increase in funding for vital public services, including the NHS, the Police Service and the Fire Service would secure a much better and safer future for the British people.

 

It’s now twenty years ago since Blaire enjoyed a landslide victory against the Tories in 1997 and introduced New Labour to the unsuspecting British people. Twenty years later, it is possible that Corbyn could enjoy another significant victory over the Tories, and this time he would introduce a traditional Labour government to the British public.

 

All that is need is for a majority of adults to vote Labour in the general election on June 8th.

 

Mo Stewart is an independent researcher and retired healthcare professional. Her acclaimed book ‘Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state’ was published in September 2016 by New Generation Publishing.

Tory MP Dismisses Disabled Activist Live on TV


Watch The  Video Here…..

//players.brightcove.net/624246174001/82f79524-152c-485f-bcb0-09197a216c87_default/index.html?videoId=5452010632001

 

Reblogged Article  Courtesy of  May Bulman -Independant Newspaper 29/5/2017

 

A Tory MP has dismissed a disabled woman on live television after she told him tens of thousands of disabled and sick people were dying every year due to cuts in health and social care.

Conservative MP Dominic Raab responded to an emotional address from Fiona, a disability activist from Aberdeen, in which she said she had known disabled people who and committed suicide, by saying it was “just a childish wish list” if there was not a “strong economy creating the revenue”.

During the open debate on the Victoria Derbyshire show, Fiona said disabled people were “fleeing” from England to Scotland where she said the devolved parliament was doing more to protect them.

“You’re all talking about numbers and money, and there is an ocean of suffering under that. Oxford University just released research showing that in 2015 in England and Wales alone there were 30,000 excess deaths caused by cuts to health and social care,” she said.

“Tens of thousands of disabled and sick people are dying every year. We are dying. There have been hundreds of suicides. I spent hours after the last general election trying to talk people out of killing themselves, and I didn’t always succeed.

“People are dying here and nobody cares. I have friends who have been helping resettle disabled people in Scotland because at the very least we have a Scottish parliament which is trying its best with limited funds to protect people against the worst of these cuts. People have been fleeing England for their lives.”

Fiona cited a study by Napier University that found the work capability assessment causes deterioration in people’s mental health and can lead to thoughts of suicide, adding: “It kills people. It is an act of violence and we are dying.

“This election is life or death for us. Anybody who votes for the Conservative Party, who are going to further these cuts, they are complicit in those deaths.”

In response to Fiona’s comments, Mr Raab said: “There are plenty of heart-rending stories here, and no one could be anything other than moved by it. We have put in 11,000 more doctors into the NHS, 12,000 more nurses. We have got a renewed focus on mental health and also making sure we’re trying to take the pressure off big hospitals in the manifesto.

“But the real truth is the money’s got to come from somewhere, and I can think of lots of things that I would like to avoid making difficult decisions on and lots of areas like the health service or schools that I want to put even more money in, but unless you’ve got a strong economy creating the revenue, it’s just a childish wish list.

“We’re trying to do our best to get the balance right between responsible public finances and investing in some of those crucial areas you discussed.”

Fiona responded by saying: “So you choose to sacrifice tens of thousands of disabled people, for the sake of that? This is the sixth richest country in the world. It is a choice that people make.

“In Scotland, we have a limited block grant, and they still manage to create a health service which functions, they still manage to create a care service which functions. And you are choosing to sacrifice us.”

It comes after Theresa May refused to rule out making further cuts to disability benefits in the next Parliament if the Conservatives are returned to government.

Asked by The Independent at a campaign event in Mansfield earlier this month whether she would rule out any further cuts to support, the Prime Minister responded: “If you look at what we’ve been doing on disability benefits, what we have done is look at focusing disability benefit payments on those who are most in need.

“In fact, we are spending more on disability benefit payments than has been done by any government in the past.”

 

Nobody is Unfit For Work Anymore


Reblogged from Black Triangle & DPAC

 

More background from Black Triangle Campaign’s sister organisation Disabled People Against Cuts: ‘Claiming ESA under Universal Credit: Nobody is unfit for work anymore’ Wednesday May 25 2017
What you will read may be very distressing for you, but we are looking at the worst-case scenario and identifying measures to help you and other claimants. It would be good to have some feedback on the Health and Work Conversations from people who have made an ESA claim. More we know about it, and more we can fight this.
What you should not do, is to decide not to claim ESA. That is what DWP wants you to do.
Some documents released by the DWP have shown the direction of travel in terms of claiming ESA under UC.
Under the old regime, a person wishing to claim ESA was placed in the ESA assessment phase, attracting the lowest ESA rate (JSA rate), and also no conditionality, and this until a Work Capability Assessment could decide whether the claimant was fit or unfit for work.
The Work and Health Conversation
Under Universal Credit, a person wishing to claim ESA will be first called for a Health and Work Conversation (HWC). This conversation is basically a Work Focus Interview, and is mandatory, which means that a claimant can be sanctioned for not attending. Attending does not only mean being physically present at the interview but also fulfilling all the requirements set by DWP for a WFI:
Regulation 57 of the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008:
57.—(1) A claimant is regarded as having taken part in a work-focused interview if the claimant—
(a) attends for the interview at the place and at the date and time notified in accordance with regulation 56;
(b) provides information, if requested by the Secretary of State, about any or all of the matters set out in paragraph (2);
(c) participates in discussions to the extent the Secretary of State considers necessary, about any or all of the matters set out in paragraph (3);
(d) assists the Secretary of State in the completion of an action plan.
 (2) The matters referred to in paragraph (1)(b) are—
(a) the claimant’s educational qualifications and vocational training;
(b) the claimant’s work history;
(c) the claimant’s aspirations for future work;
(d) the claimant’s skills that are relevant to work;
(e) the claimant’s work-related abilities;
(f) the claimant’s caring or childcare responsibilities; and
(g) any paid or unpaid work that the claimant is undertaking.
(3) The matters referred to in paragraph (1)(c) are—
(a) any activity the claimant is willing to undertake which may make obtaining or remaining in work more likely;
(b) any such activity that the claimant may have previously undertaken;
(c) any progress the claimant may have made towards remaining in or obtaining work;
(d) any work-focused health-related assessment the claimant may have taken part in; and
(e) the claimant’s opinion as to the extent to which the ability to remain in or obtain work is restricted by the claimant’s physical or mental condition.
So the main difference with the previous regime is that people with a fit note from their GP saying they are not fit for work, will be (are being) called for a mandatory WFI.
They also will be asked to fill a questionnaire which is also mandatory and to undertake an optional exercise called My values. There will be another article specifically about the questionnaire
According to the DWP, some ‘vulnerable’ people will be exempted from this conversation. [1]
The DWP defines vulnerability as “an individual who is identified as having complex needs and/or requires additional support to enable them to access DWP benefits and use our services.” but has not yet released the guidance given to Work Coaches on who will be exempted from the HWC. As these conversations have already started, this guidance exists and should be released immediately by the DWP.
Unfortunately, based on the DWP ghastly track record, it is likely that pressure to attend will be placed on people unable to attend because of their health conditions. DPAC has already encountered a case of a person with mental capacity issues and a life threatening health condition being requested to attend a HWC.
After the Health and Work Conversation
Unlike under the previous regime, when ESA claimants with a GP fit note saying they were unfit to work were not expected to fulfil any work related requirements until a WCA said otherwise, ESA claimants under UC will be by default assumed to be fit for work and expected to fulfil all Work Related Requirements until their WCA . [2]
Claimants to whom the All Work Related Requirements apply:
claimants who have a fit note and are awaiting a WCA claimants who have been found not to have limited capability for work at the WCA and are appealing against this outcome
claimants who have some paid work but are earning below conditionality earnings threshold claimants who do not fall into any other group
What All Work Related Requirement means:
Claimants in this group must be available for full-time work of any type and look for this within 90 minute travelling time from their home. Restrictions can be applied to looking for work, the type of work and hours of work where it is appropriate due to the claimant’s capability and circumstances.
Claimants must be engaged in work search and work preparation activities for at least the number of hours they are available for work. Claimants must take all reasonable action to obtain paid work.
Work Coaches must set work search activities for the claimant to search for work for their expected hours (This is the number of hours that the claimant is available for work or 35 hours, whichever is the lower figure) less deductions from this for the allowable time spent undertaking agreed work-preparation activities , voluntary work and paid work.
Only one restriction for people with health conditions is mentioned in the document: claimants who have a fit note will not be required to take up work that they are not capable of doing until their fit note ends
Any other derogation to the All Work Related Requirements will be at the discretion of work coaches. For most claimants, work coaches will not have more medical information than the fit note (the diagnosis) or in some cases, the WCA outcome when they have not be found to have Limited Capability for Work and Work-Related Activity, and they should not be able to ask claimants for this kind of information without breaching the Data Protection Act. These work coaches are also not medically trained. Any Work Related Requirement will be based on the diagnosis, and on what the claimant would have told them during the HWC conversation and in the questionnaire. Also based on that, claimants would have to complete an action plan and sign a claimant commitment. Failure to do so could result in a sanction.
This is deeply worrying because:
1) an extra step is introduced before the WCA which is already stressful enough
2) all claimants assessed by their GP as unfit for work, will be considered by default fit for work by the DWP.
3) work coaches are medically untrained and unable to comprehend whether a work related requirement can have a detrimental effect on the health of a claimant
4) GPs medical judgement is undermined by medically untrained staff.
5) DWP definition of ‘vulnerable’ may be so restrictive that some claimants with very serious health conditions could be requested to attend a HWC and sanctioned for failing to do so
Additional Things I have since found:

Psychological Wellbeing and Work-Mo Stewart


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Guest Blog by Mo Stewart

Dear Christian van Stolk

Re: Psychological Wellbeing and Work

Please excuse this unsolicited contact by an independent researcher in Cambridge.

I have read with interest the Psychological Wellbeing and Work report, as conducted by RAND Europe and funded by the Contestable Policy Fund and, FYI, please be advised that I am a former healthcare professional in my previous career.

I shall copy in the Secretary of State for Health, who now leads on mental health, and his Shadow together with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and his Shadow.

Now in my 8th year of independent research into the ongoing welfare reforms in the UK, as guided by neoliberal politics and strongly influenced by American social security policies which have had a detrimental impact on claimants, may I please draw your attention to the book ‘Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state’, which has achieved critical acclaim since its publication in September 2016.

To that end, may I suggest you invite access to the research by contacting my publisher and inviting a review copy of the book.

 This recent book review may be helpful: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/disabled-researchers-book-exposes-corporate-demolition-of-welfare-state/

It is cause for continued concern that major DWP policies, often negatively impacting on the wellbeing of some very ill and vulnerable people, are invariably introduced using research commissioned by the DWP, whilst disregarding the vast catalogue of distinguished research evidence as provided by a variety of academic experts when not commissioned by the DWP and whose funding is not linked to political ideology.  Please see attached examples of academic excellence.

It is noted that your report refers to ‘work’, which exclusively identifies with paid employment and disregards the beneficial nature enjoyed by an army of volunteers in the UK, many of whom are chronically ill or profoundly disabled and for whom a return to paid employment is neither practical nor inducive to their wellbeing. As a volunteer, it is possible to benefit from a working environment with colleagues and a purpose when well enough and enjoying a ‘good day’.  There is no-one to make accusations when too ill to leave the house, with a diagnosed condition that will never improve regardless of DWP intimidation and threats.

In keeping with reported comments by David Freud, all DWP commissioned research seems to presume that anyone in receipt of out-of-work disability benefits should have access to the benefits for the short-term, with no acknowledgement at all that many, many health conditions are permanent, cannot improve  especially with endless intimidation and coercion by the DWP, and that there is no evidence whatsoever other than totally discredited DWP commissioned research of the claimed one million people on out-of-work disability benefit who should or could return to work.

It is also noted that a report identified as ‘Psychological Wellbeing and Work’ disregards the ongoing identified preventable harm created by the DWP, the relentless political manipulation of the public with claims for which there is no foundation, suggesting that 75% of claimants of out-of-work disability benefits are ‘inactive’,  ‘bogus’, ‘idle’, ‘skiving’, ‘workshy’ and ‘scrounging’.  This has created a situation where chronically ill people, who are not capable of paid employment, now live in fear of the DWP following relentless coercion and intimidation, aided by the national press, which led to a 213% increase in disability hate crimes in the UK during the Coalition government’s term in office, and genuine claimants now living in fear of applying for welfare funding to which they are entitled, to this nation’s everlasting shame.

There are now claimants who have starved to death in the UK, quite literally, as the unreserved and savage use of sanctions has been imposed by the DWP in an effort to force compliance of the unprecedented DWP welfare ‘reforms’ on those least able to protest.

The most vulnerable in society are paying a high price for the political ideology of neoliberalism, some with their lives.

Suicides and deaths are the tip of the iceberg of misery and suffering on an unimaginable scale experienced by those who

are physically or mentally unfit to work, as the government implements an increasingly punitive and authoritarian regime

against benefit claimants. Vulnerable people are left destitute by sanctions that suspend or end their benefits if they fail

to comply with orders to attend ‘assessments’, ‘training courses’, or submit the required number of job applications.

Psycho politics, neoliberal governmentality and austerity

Philip Thomas

Self & Society Journal

Volume 44, 2016 – Issue 4

Perhaps, when considering future interventions for mental health, Consultant Psychologists and Psychiatrists who are not politically motivated could be consulted as they actually have clinical experience of working with ‘common mental health’ problems, which should not imply that they are not serious problems, and they are less inclined to have the welfare budget as their top priority as opposed to the wellbeing of often very ill patients.

It seems unlikely that more coercion by Jobcentre Plus and the DWP, when masquerading as psychological support, is likely to benefit sufferers of mental ill health, who are not known to respond well to relentless intimidation with endless threats of sanctions and the possibility of starvation close to their lived experience.

The travesty of this ongoing government imposed human suffering, where chronically ill people in receipt of welfare benefits are presumed to be bogus, was adopted due to the introduction of neoliberal politics, the outsourcing to private companies very lucrative DWP contracts and the failure to audit the contracts.  Chronically ill people have suffered and died due to political ideology that is unrelated to the health or the welfare of the claimants, and was motivated by the desire to reduce welfare costs regardless of human consequences. The fact that the DWP have refused to publish updated mortality totals of those who have died following the totally discredited Work Capability Assessment may alert you to the ongoing problems, as faced by those least able to defend themselves against this ideological assault.

See: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/green-party-calls-on-government-to-launch-benefit-deaths-inquiry/

I would alert you to the fact that a great deal of the identified increased mental health problems are due entirely to the DWP policies of recent years, where all chronically ill and disabled people in need of welfare benefits are presumed to be bogus unless proven otherwise, the constant savage rhetoric in the national press, the increases in disability hate crimes and the fact that the British public have been successfully misdirected on route to the UK eventually adopting private healthcare insurance to replace the welfare state.

Your research will no doubt benefit administrators in the DWP and the DoH, but will not benefit anyone suffering from a common mental health problem as enforced ‘therapy’ may well now be added to their many burdens for the enormous crime of being too ill to work. The fact that what was once guaranteed and vital financial support has been removed actually guaranteed an increase in the onset of mental health problems, for those who are physically disabled as well as for those with a mental health diagnosis as their primary health problem.

I trust this information may be helpful.

Best

Mo Stewart

Disabled veteran (WRAF)

Disability studies researcher

Retired healthcare professional

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mo_Stewart/publications

http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/library/author/stewart.mo

www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html#documents

Academic confirmation we have all been waiting 7 years for- AYLWARD’S REPUTATION DESTROYED BY ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE


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 Courtesy of Mo Stewart July29th 2016

Re: Blaming the victim, all over again: Waddell and Aylward’s biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability.

by Tom Shakespeare, Nicholas Watson and Ola Abu Alghaib

 

Critical Social Policy, May 25,2016: 0261018316649120

http://csp.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/05/25/0261018316649120.abstract

AS you all know, I have been exposing the dangerous WCA in my research since 2009.  Eventually, I was able to expose the use of the totally discredited biopsychosocial (BPS) model of assessment, used for the WCA and adopting a ‘non-medical’ assessment model to resist funding benefit.  Waddell and Aylward’s ‘research’ was based on the modified version of Engel’s BPS model as identified in the 1970s. They are responsible for the BPS model used for the WCA, which has destroyed countless lives.

 

Finally, the very long awaited academic support has arrived in the form of a blistering attack against Mansel Aylward and Gordon Waddell’s research ‘evidence’ who, historically, have written DWP ‘commissioned’ research that has influenced government policy, which led to the introduction of the WCA.

 

Originally published in Critical Social Policy Journal, Tom’s scathing attack against the BPS duo is now attached and is available via Tom’s website at UEA: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/58235/1/1351_Shakespeare.pdf

 

The Waddell-Aylward BPS has remained largely unexamined within academic literature, although it has not escaped critique by disability activists (e.g. Jolly 2012, Berger n.d., Lostheskold 2012, Stewart 2013). In this paper we build on these political challenges with an academic analysis of the model and the evidence used to justify it. We outline the chief features of the Waddell-Aylward BPS and argue that, contrary to Lord Freud’s comments above, there is no coherent theory or evidence behind this model. We have carefully reviewed claims in Waddell and Aylward’s publications; compared these with the accepted scientific literature; and checked their original sources, revealing a cavalier approach to scientific evidence. In conclusion, we will briefly outline the influence of the Waddell-Aylward BPS on contemporary British social policy, and the consequent effects on disabled people.” (p4) (My emphasis MS)

 

Waddell and Aylward slide between general statements that are scientifically valid, and specific statements that are matters of opinion or political prejudice. They also tend to cite their own, non-peer reviewed papers extensively. For example they claim ‘We have the knowledge to reduce sickness absence and long-term incapacity associated with common health problems by 30–50%, and in principle by even more’ (2010, 45). They underpin this claim by reference to one of their earlier publications, Concepts of Rehabilitation for the Management of Common Health Problems (Waddell & Burton 2004). However, there is no evidence cited in this 2004 work to support such a claim, in fact this publication even acknowledges the paucity of evidence in this area (Waddell and Burton 2004; 50).” (p20)

 

“In conclusion, the relationship of the advocates of the Waddell Aylward BPS to the UK government’s ‘welfare reform’ does not represent evidence-based policy. Rather, it offers a chilling example of policy-based evidence.” (p24)

 

The research ‘evidence’ used by the DWP to justify the dangerous WCA, using the discredited BPS model, is finally exposed as having ‘no coherent theory or evidence behind this model’, which is academic speak for being totally bogus.

 

 

Is DRUK Trying To Silence Disability Researcher?


disabilityrightsuk

 

 

 

 

 

Disability Rights UK (DRUK) have been around a long time, helping disabled people navigate the benefits system with their informative fact sheets available to download from their website.

Like many other charities, gradually, DRUK have been sitting at the table with government officials in the designing of the WCA since 2010, offering both critique and praise alike.

Many will know that DRUK have recently been afforded Government contracts to supply Disability Equality Training to the new contractor, Maximus, for the WCA assessments to ensure disabled people get better treated  within the process. I am sure that DRUK think they are trying to ease the stress these flawed assessments cause many disabled claimants. However, how can you offer help to disabled people then, with the same breath, support the oppressive regime the WCA has become?  This smacks of conflict of interest.

As many disability campaigners know one of their own, Sue Marsh (Spartacus Network), was co-opted by IDS to work for Maximus. This caused much outrage amongst the disability movement dividing many campaigners into two camps, with some calling Marsh a traitor who they deemed was bought to silence her, and others, as Spartacus members gave personal stories etc to the network. Members felt betrayed and concerned as to where their data was, and how it could be used against them come reassessment, with Marsh now working for the government contracted oppressor of disabled people who are dying in their thousands.

 

Benefits and Work  website reported in January 2015

Following its signing of disability campaigner Sue Marsh earlier this month, Maximus – the company taking over the work capability assessment contract from Atos in March – have now signed up a leading disability charity as well.

Disability Rights UK (DRUK) have announced that they have agreed a contract to deliver training in disability equality to Maximus health professionals.

DRUK has over 300 member organisations, including many national charities, and aims to ‘Break the link between disability and poverty’. Maximus, which is being paid more than double the amount that Atos was being paid to carry out WCA’s seems keen to prevent potential opponents from slipping into poverty by sharing some of its taxpayer funded profits with them.

DRUK are also advertising for people to take part in what looks very much like a promotional campaign for income protection insurance – the sort of thing that Unum provide as an alternative to state support – though there is no suggestion that Unum are involved on this occasion.

Members of the public who have had a serious illness and are trying to return to work are offered the amounts of money and support they would have had if they had been wealthy enough to afford to take out income protection insurance cover. They are filmed as they make the return to work and these films can then be used to encourage people to take out income protection insurance.

Of course, the worse the level of state benefits and state support, the more easily people can be persuaded to take out such insurance, giving insurance companies a vested interest in maintaining the link between disability and poverty.

 

The Black Triangle Campaign and Disabled People Against the Cuts  have also  highlighted on their respective websites many of the shortcomings of this government’s failure to ‘Help the most vulnerable in society and protect them,’ with DPAC going to the UN which recently found that disabled people’s human rights were breached under the convention. (Links below)

Make no bones about it, private disability insurance is on its way under Tory rule as we follow the examples of USA, Canada, Australia etc of welfare provision, which is soon to be highlighted in a new book by independent disability studies researcher, Mo Stewart, called Cash Not Care- the planned demolition of the UK welfare state, due to be published later this year. Former healthcare professional and disabled veteran Mo Stewart has spent 6 long years gathering information, which has assisted many disabled campaigners in their fight against these ideological reforms, which caused preventable harm to disabled people and saved very little money for the government; a pledge they used to sell this lie to the public who bought it hook, line and sinker. Mo’s very detailed research reports are available online.

 

You may wonder that I have wandered off topic but you need to understand the background before I lay the cards on the table.

It seems that DRUK would like to now garner the services of researcher Mo Stewart on the new APPG Inquiry regarding ‘Welfare to Work’ which they administer, and which is the next step of this government’s ongoing psycho- coercion to force claimants into work, regardless of the harm it will cause. They fail miserably to understand that many chronically sick and disabled people cannot work, and that their health problems are permanent, as they built the welfare reform policies based on so called ‘academic research’ which has been subsequently demonstrated to be fatally flawed, in the case of the Freud Report, and based on totally bogus research in the case of the DWP evidence used to justify the WCA. http://csp.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/05/25/0261018316649120.abstract

The aim is to go beyond a critique to a template or blueprint for co-ordinated Government action to halve the ‘disability employment gap’.  Even those who want to work (and many disabled people do work), due to the barriers they face regarding access, together with employers who are unwilling to take disabled people on in the workplace, or to make the necessary adjustments needed, they can’t.  For example, most buildings, transport etc are not disability friendly.

Many disabled people are now being put through the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments and are actually losing both their Motability cars, and their jobs, as many disabled people are unable to use public transport.  So, the removal of access to a Motability car also means the loss of paid work. Yet another consequence of welfare reforms the government failed to consider.

What bit of this do the DWP fail to grasp is mind boggling, and clearly lacks any common sense.  Without addressing the barriers, and accepting that many cannot work, is the sole reason the government has failed to halve the disability employment gap as they claimed they wanted to do.  That claim always was little more than propaganda and Tory party rhetoric used in the ongoing psycho-coercion of the British people via the right-wing press.

Thankfully, Mo Stewart declined the offer to join the APPG government inquiry. She challenges the theory behind the planned report, does not wish to be the ‘token’ disabled person on the research team, and there would be a risk that any negative reaction to the eventual report by the disability support groups could be justified by the DWP when highlighting Mo’s contribution. She totally refuses to become another government ‘patsy.’

So, Mo declined the invitation to join the APPG Inquiry research team and is waiting for her book to be published, which is a strong indictment of all those involved in the WCA process. This is the research the government attempted to stop, and the book the government do not want people to read.

She’s also writing further research to support disabled people, and the DWP have discovered that Mo is not easily silenced in her condemnation of these American influenced welfare reforms that she has spent over 6 years of her life researching and reporting.

 

Lynne Friedli’s powerful talk regarding the psycho-coercion used by the state is well worth 45 minutes of your time, demonstrating the realities of the state using psychosocial rhetoric to enforce work that may be unpaid and certainly, for many, will be harmful.(You Tube link)

 

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mo_Stewart/publications

http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html

http://guerillawire.org/welfare/disability-charity-signs-maximus-contract/

Leading WCA campaigner swaps sides to join Maximus

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/20/un-inquiry-uk-disability-rights-violations-cprd-welfare-cuts

http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/news/uk-in-breachhuman-rights/00287.html

http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/scottish-police-assessing-possible-investigation-into-ids-and-grayling/

 

 

 

 

Telling It Straight-Disabled People Lives at Risk from Further Ideology on Welfare Reform


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Yesterday The Reform Think Tank published its second report with a further one to come before the white paper is published later this year, recommendations in this report will fuel the fear project inflicted by the Tories on those who are considered the most vulnerable whom they promised to protect. Its proposals call for a Single Working Age Benefit (SWAB) while claiming it is not a cost cutting exercise. These folks are so detached from the real lives of those  suffering disability or chronic sickness  it is an indictment of the discourse between policy and real life experience written by non other than IDS lackey Charlotte Pickles. She spent two years as Expert Adviser to Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, helping to design and deliver the Government’s welfare agenda. Before that she was Policy Director at the Centre for Social Justice . So this is hardly impartial and often a pre-curser for Tory policies in the pipeline.

What does this mean for you as a person with a disability or a chronically sick person, ‘hell in a cart’ where they slash benefits and support  needed to live independently. I apologise if this blog is long but you need to know the implications this will have, I cannot sugar coat it or contain my disgust at the disdain shown to those on the receiving end of this frankly disgusting ideology which smacks of 1930 nazism reinforcing the Deserving /Undeserving Poor Rhetoric . We saw recently the Lords reject the cut to ESA of £30 week which will punish cancer patients and others while they need financial support which will go back to the Commons to be further debated,while Cameron stated those with cancer should be in Support Group we know in reality  many are misplaced in Wrag Group and subjected to conditionality of either looking for a job or bullied until they return to work before they are fully recovered if that is indeed a reality for them.The employment rate for disabled people in
the UK is just 48 per cent.

So lets look at just a few of the proposals by this report ;

Shortly after becoming Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in 2010, Iain Duncan
Smith announced his ambition to create “[a] welfare system that is fit for the 21st
Century.”9 In 2015 he argued that Universal Credit (UC) “opens the way for us to re-think
the relationship between sickness benefits and work.”10 This paper outlines the structural
reforms that would maximise UC’s impact for people with health conditions. The package
of reforms cover the benefit rate, gateway and conditionality. They are not about costsaving,
but building a more coherent, effective and personalised benefit system.
The difference in the benefit level for unemployed people compared to that for people with
significant health conditions is sizeable – and under UC the gap will widen.The Government should
therefore set a single rate for out-of-work benefit.

The savings from this rate reduction should be reinvested into Personal Independence Payment which contributes to the
additional costs incurred by someone with a long-term condition and into support
services.

1A single out-of-work allowance should be established, removing all out-of-work
disability-related premiums.
>> Time-limited transitional protection should be provided for current Employment
and Support Allowance support group claimants.
>> The single out-of-work allowance should be uprated by a more generous
mechanism that better reflects the inflation experience of beneficiaries.
2. The savings from moving to a single out-of-work allowance should be reinvested
into increased rates for Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence
Payment and increased provision of support programmes to help claimants move
back into work.

The current requirement to provide a ‘fit note’ from a GP should be scrapped

6. As part of the Occupational Health Assessment, where appropriate claimants should
co-produce an occupational health plan with their health adviser. This should be
accompanied by a personal budget that is unlocked by a ‘dual key’ of claimant and
specialist employment adviser. This should facilitate implementation of the plan to
assist the claimant in moving closer to the labour market by treating or managing
their condition.

The latter will most likely be be through IAPT/CBT  and work choice programmes currently planned pilot in Islington GP practices and Work Coaches.

Link ;  http://www.islington.gov.uk/advice/employment/employment-commission/Pages/default.aspx

Although the introduction of a WRAG was intended to tackle this by recognising an
individual’s remaining work capacity, in the quarter up to May 2015, only around one per
cent of WRAG claimants left the benefit. In addition, the majority (almost 75 per cent) of
post-assessment ESA claimants are assigned to the support group where the absence of
any work expectation reinforces the negative messaging that they cannot work.

The report looks at both the New Zealand ,Sweden,Danish Models and ways they think UK can follow suit. The Chancellor George Osbourne  said in his summer budget;

In the 2015 Summer Budget, the Chancellor acknowledged the unintended
consequences of the system:
The Employment and Support Allowance was supposed to end some of the perverse
incentives in the old Incapacity Benefit. Instead it has introduced new ones. One of
these is that those who are placed in the work-related activity group receive more
money a week than those on Job Seekers [sic] Allowance, but get nothing like the help
to find suitable employment.
He announced that, from April 2017 and for new claimants, the ESA WRAG component
and the UC equivalent Limited Capability for Work (LCW) element would be aligned to that
of JSA. This contrasts with the support group which retains the relevant ESA component,
and in UC the LCWRA element. Once UC is rolled out, this means that those on the UC
standard allowance (around £73 a week) will receive half the payment that those on the
standard allowance plus the LCWRA element will get (around £146 a week). As well as
this, from April 2016, a four-year freeze is being applied to all out-of-work benefits
excluding ESA support group, which continues to be uprated by the Consumer Price
Index, further expanding the differential.

This represents a growing incentive for people to be assigned to the support group. Dr
Paul Litchfield raised concerns about making the support group more attractive in relation
to time-limiting contributory ESA WRAG. In his year five independent review of the WCA
he argued:
Time limiting applies only to those placed in the WRAG and therefore increases the
existing financial incentive for individuals to be placed in the support group, if they need
to remain on the benefit beyond 12 months.
With limited access to employment support and no work-related conditionality, people in
the support group are completely detached from the labour market. This is particularly
concerning given that, according to one survey of ESA recipients, 52 per cent of support
group claimants said they “currently want to work.”

All out-of-work disability-related premiums should be removed from the current system,
along with the LCWRA component in UC. This would leave a single out-of-work
allowance. The level at which this allowance is set must balance multiple and often
competing objectives. These include poverty alleviation, fairness, sustainability and
incentivising work. Ultimately, the precise rate will be a political judgement, but
maintaining work incentives will likely mean a rate that is not that dissimilar to the current
JSA/UC standard allowance rate.

1.2.1 The vision:

Absent any transitional protection or reinvestment in other benefits, this would mean
sizeable loses for those currently in receipt of the premiums, and ‘notional losses’ for
future claimants. The average weekly payment for those in the ESA support group, which
includes the ESA component and disability-related premiums, is around £131.105 Under
UC, anyone in the support group will receive the LCWRA element in addition to standard
allowance, taking their weekly payment to around £146. This means a loss, on average,
of around £58 per week under the current system and a loss of around £73 under UC. For
those receiving the maximum possible amount of disability-related premiums under the
current system, the loss will be higher.
1.2.1.2 Transitional protection
Implementing a single out-of-work rate would require some form of transitional protection
to avoid a ‘cliff-edge’ effect. One option would be to create a time-limited support group
cash payment – replacing the existing component and disability premiums – to be
withdrawn over that set time period. For example, over three years a £60 a week payment
(roughly the average loss) could be reduced by £20 each year. . £131 is the average
weekly amount paid to single people in the ESA support group.

1 Working welfare / The rate therefore less attractive option would be to replicate, in part, the approach taken in UC:
the actual amount lost by each individual claimant as a result of the reform could be
frozen in cash terms (as per UC losers), but unlike UC also reduced over time (i.e. not just
left to erode naturally with inflation). That time period could vary according to the size of
the loss, for example by a set amount, say £20 a week, each year until it was fully
removed. This would not only add complication, but also take longer to reach the new
system, and thus longer to release the savings for reinvestment. The former is therefore
the preferred option.1.2.1.3 Maintaining benefit value
Successive uprating decisions that have applied below inflation increases to many
working-age benefits have eroded their value. Without the caps of the last Parliament and
the freeze which will be applied in April 2016 for four years, JSA and the UC standard
allowance would have been almost £80 a week in 2019-20 – 8.5 per cent a week higher
than they will actually be.106 In Updating uprating: towards a fairer system, Reform argued
that the Government should scrap the benefits freeze and look to implement a fairer
uprating mechanism for income-replacement benefits that better reflects their inflation
experience.107 This, in short, would mean a more generous uprating policy: one that would
track more closely rises in beneficiary living costs.
Recommendation 1
A single out-of-work allowance should be established, removing all out-of-work
disability-related premiums.
>> Time-limited transitional protection should be provided for current Employment
and Support Allowance support group claimants.
>> The single out-of-work allowance should be uprated by a more generous
mechanism that better reflects the inflation experience of beneficiaries.
1.2.2 Reinvesting the savings
The move to a single out-of-work benefit is not about saving money but about creating a
simpler, more coherent system. As such, the savings resulting from removing the
disability-related additions to the standard allowance should be reinvested into extra
costs benefits (PIP) and support services. Determining how best to split the savings
between these areas is also a political decision.
1.2.2.1 Investing in extra cost benefits
DLA and its working-age replacement benefit, PIP, are designed to contribute to extra
costs incurred by someone with a long-term health condition. Eligibility is not based on a
specific condition or disability, but the impact it has on the individual. It is paid both in and
out of work and is not means-tested or taxed. PIP has two components, daily living and
mobility, and each has two rates, standard and enhanced. In replacing DLA, the then
Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller, argued that PIP would “create a new, more
active and enabling benefit.”The Coalition Government argued that PIP would be
“easier to understand, more efficient and will support disabled people who face the
greatest challenges to remaining independent and leading full and active lives.” By
introducing an objective assessment, and removing the lower rates of DLA, the Coalition
expected to reduce the caseload – focusing the new benefit on those with the greatest
need.Existing policy will see this spend reduced further. From April 2017, the Work Programme,
along with Work Choice, a voluntary employment programme for disabled people costing
around £80 million a year,125 will be merged into a new Health and Work Programme. This
will cater for claimants with health conditions or disabilities and those who have been
unemployed for over two years, with estimated funding of just £130 million a year.126 This
represents a cut in the main components of employment support spend of around 80 per
cent.

So is this the death knell for those placed in Support Group,  given many are being invited into a work focused interview to see if they would like to work, under a guise yet again by this slimy bastard Government.are they planning to make everyone a Jobseeker you bet your arse they are!

Along with PIP being sucked into the factoring of this report proposing higher PIP premiums to compensate for  any losses  under SWAB ,does this mean PIP will  become means tested in the future?

Many on PIP are losing their vehicles which allow those who can to work. It seems to me a bit of an own goal to remove their means to get to work when Public transport is an issue for disabled people and not fit for purpose.

Best get some Work Clothes/Boots while you still have little money left before they come snatch it all away and drag you out your sick bed  and into your wheelchair at 6am to force you onto public transport which is unusable for the majority, let alone those with Mental Health conditions who never leave their homes and the damage this will cause,  in cost to the human beings within this bloody experiment this government is dogmatically pushing forward even if the reality of evidence  does not support this position.

Now is the time to make a stand  otherwise they will cause untold harm to thousands, don’t leave it to someone else there are many ways you can stand up and be counted,Get involved !

 

 

Link to Reform report ;   http://www.reform.uk/publication/working-welfare-a-radically-new-approach-to-sickness-and-disability-benefits/

Bernadette Meaden viewpoint ;   http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/22694

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/politics/disability-benefits-incapacity-benefit-iain-duncan-smith-welfare-perverse-incentives?utm_content=buffercdcb9&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disabled Man attacked by G4S Security at Newcastle Jobcentre


g4s guard newcastle

The culprit!

 

 

A sick & disabled man attends Newcastle JCP to use the phones to make an enquiry when he was attacked by G4S guard for using his mobile when they refused his request. How is that acceptable?  The JCP’s are now removing telephones which is another obstruction claimants now face, not every person has a mobile or a landline. It is now policy that you are intimidated BY G4S security to turn off your mobiles after many used them to film maladministration of JCP staff. So how are they supposed to get the information they require, when JCP staff are too busy to deal with a basic inquiry?  They are supposed to be there to assist claimants with their enquiries and help them seek work. This should outrage most people and this man should apologise to the complainant and the claimant should be compensated. At the time of writing this blog a complaint has gone in to the manager of this JCP and the police have been informed and we will update you of the outcome. We cannot allow claimants to be continually bullied just because they happen to have fallen onto hard times in life. His story of being made homeless due to a error in bedroom tax has already hit press and now he is no longer homeless thanks to generosity of other claimants donating to a fund managed to find a flat to ensure his health is stabilised. The stress this man has endured in recent weeks with two hospital admissions for what they think is a heart condition due to him being homeless, on top of all the stress of being on the streets since last October, only to be subjected to this also is totally wrong on a humanitarian basis alone. Britain should hang its head in shame !

 

His story in the press : http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/06/life-limbo-what-it-s-be-one-britain-s-hidden-homeless

 

Here is the claimants  video https://vimeo.com/103182251

The ‘Condition’ of Britain-We are Screwed100% by the Elite


I have been reading the IPPR  Condition of Britain report (see link at bottom) which was plastered all over the press with Ed Miliband’s speech saying what Britain  needed. Well I can tell you Ed a fair system for all , which is no easy task for anyone and no one would disagree this country is a mess, but who bloody caused it yes your Bankers, who dropped the ball, those in power while the rest of the peasants worked their fingers to bone.

I wont pull no punches as there will be upset and hardship for most of the peasants while those at the top drink the cream.Its not all bad news to be honest there are some good points  in it and that means you only need one hand to add them up. I will focus on welfare provision as this is what my blogs are generally about and this one is long but relevant.

We come to our the  future of our young;

For 18–21-year-olds, existing out-of-work benefits should be replaced by a youth allowance that provides financial support conditional on looking for work or completing education, targeted at those from low-income families.

8. A youth guarantee for 18–21-year-olds should be established that offers access to education or training plus intensive support to find work or an apprenticeship, with compulsory paid work experience for those not earning or learning within six months.

9. The National Citizen Service programme should be expanded so that half of young people aged 16 and 17 are taking part by 2020, using money saved from holding down cash benefits to families with older children.

10 The remit of youth offending teams should be extended to those aged up to 20, in order to provide locally-led, integrated support to help keep young adult offenders out of prison, cut reoffending and prevent them from entering a life of crime.

 

Again our young people who have been ignored for a very long time will have a chance of gaining some experience via the youth allowance, however I would prefer that the government promised to pay our young people a wage with real hands on experience via old fashioned apprenticeships with a job  guarantee at the end of it with the employer. It is not only beneficial to our young people but to the company too, by allowing growth of both company and market ,while allowing those coming to end of work life retiring as before, so these trained young people can take their place in job market.

Next we come to working life which relates to benefit clamiants ;

  • The National Insurance Fund should be given institutional and financial independence from government, with a responsibility for ensuring that national insurance contributions are sufficient to finance contributory benefit entitlements over the long term.
  • As a step towards reviving the contributory principle, the rate of contributory JSA should be increased by £30 a week, and those entitled to it should also gain access to help with mortgage interest payments if they become unemployed.
  • The next phase of the Work Programme should focus on supporting long-term jobseekers and those recovering from temporary health conditions, with contracts based on meaningful economic geographies and a job guarantee to prevent long-term unemployment.
  • Those with a long-term health condition or disability that reduces their capacity to work should participate in ‘New Start’, a new, locally-led supported employment programme for ESA claimants, with integrated budgets and incentives for success.
  • Small firms should be able to recover sick pay costs for employees hired from ESA. In addition, there should be greater back-to-work engagement between individuals and employers during sickness absence, matched by a longer period of employment protection.
  • An independent, non-state Affordable Credit Trust should be established to capitalise and mobilise local, non-profit lenders capable of providing low-cost loans, while also supporting low-income households to build up savings of their own.

The vast majority of people in Britain want to work, for their own self-esteem, to support their families, and to make a contribution to society.

One of the biggest tasks for the next government will be to enable as many people as possible to contribute to society through paid employment, including those who need to balance work with vital caring responsibilities. A further priority should be to improve the financial protections available to those who have made a contribution through work and care.These moves will be essential to help families secure rising standards of living, finance public services and social protections, and rebuild public trust in the social security system.Our priorities are a more focused Work Programme; a separate, qualitatively different ‘New Start’ programme for people with long-term health conditions or disabilities; a job guarantee to prevent long-term unemployment; and steps to increase the retention of sick and disabled people in the workplace and improve the incentives for employers to hire them in the first place.As well as supporting people to find employment, the contributions that people make through working or caring also need to be better recognised and rewarded.Our goal should be a social security system that offers more generous temporary benefits for people who have contributed, alongside better employment support so that fewer people claim out-of-work benefits for long periods.Our priority is an act of institutional reform that would directly connect contributions and entitlements, through a reconstituted National Insurance Fund.Finally, among the most pernicious and damaging trends of recent years has been the rise of personal debt (Lawrence and Cooke 2014). Many families, faced with falls in income and rises in the costs of basic essentials, have been forced into the arms of payday lenders who often charge extremely high fees and interest rates. Rather than helping to protect families from such dependency, the welfare system has often contributed to the problem.By the establishment of a new non-state, non-market institution – an Affordable Credit Trust – to mobilise and capitalise alternative providers of affordable credit. These local providers should also support low-income households to build up savings of their own. Such an institution would give many more people a realistic chance of building greater financial resilience and independence, and reduce their reliance on the social security system.

This institutional reform would also tap into the national insurance ‘brand’, and start to restore the sense that citizens have a stake in a social security system that offers ‘something for something’

Now where have we heard those buzz words before..oh yes the ‘something for nothing’ culture spouted by Coalition! It gets better though get this they are going to reinvent the wheel

To achieve this goal, we argue that the National Insurance Fund (NIF) should be rebuilt as an independent institution for financing the national insurance system.The government introduce a National Insurance Act that would reconstitute the NIF as an independent, ringfenced account, separate from government receipts and expenditures

In the first instance this would include: the single-tier state pension; contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA); contribution-based employment and support allowance (ESA);statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay;maternity allowance; and bereavement benefits.This would make explicit the fact that NICs finance contributory benefits and determine eligibility for them, and that they are not just an additional income tax in disguise.

A reconstituted NIF should be governed by a board of trustees representing the interests of those who have a stake in the national insurance system: employees, employers, the self-employed, pensioners and carers. The trustees should be responsible for ensuring that the fund operates in the interests of all members and maintains financial sustainability over time. The NIF should have the capacity to conduct and publish analysis and projections of its revenues and expenditure, and be required to provide regular updates on its financial position in order to improve transparency and public engagement.The board of trustees should also be responsible for making annual recommendations to parliament about future contribution rates and entitlements, setting out the implications for the NIF’s balance sheet. These recommendations should include any reforms needed to respond to economic or demographic shifts, such as further increases to the state pension age. Recommendations should represent the consensus view among the trustees, following widespread consultation and engagement.

Final decisions about contribution rates and entitlements should remain with parliament, but the government should not be able to ignore the trustees’ recommendations. If it disagreed with them, the government should have to make alternative proposals that are consistent with hitting the same target balance for the NIF as the board had sought to achieve (as well as explaining why they chose not to implement the consensus recommendations of the trustees).

Now forgive me if I misread this but trustees should make decisions  but the final decision is in parliament? Isn’t that  a contradiction in terms or are they just fobbing us off with another Quango without any teeth, where they get final say anyway?

Second, the structure of SMIcould be changed to reduce its cost. For instance, after a two-year period, further SMI payments could be recouped through a charge on the property, redeemed when the claimant is back in work or when the property is sold.This would give people time to get back to work, adjust their finances, or move to a more affordable property. Support would not be cut off after this point, but it should be reclaimed at a later date. It is not appropriate for the state to permanently subsidise families or individuals to live in a home they cannot afford – especially when they, rather than the state, benefit from any uplift in its capital value.

The Work Programme currently provides back-to-work support for those who have been claiming JSA for a year and those in the ‘work related activity group’ of ESA. It is delivered by ‘prime providers’, largely from the private sector, operating across 18 large contract areas across England, Scotland and Wales. After a rocky start, the performance of the Work Programme is now broadly in line with expectations and previous, similar employment programmes for JSA claimants. However, it is not proving effective at boosting employment among ESA claimants.

The core activity of Work Programme providers consists of tried and tested back-to-work strategies like supported jobsearch, help with maintaining a CV, and interview preparation, plus some extra help with skills or confidence-building. Participants are also required to demonstrate that they are taking steps to get back into work. This combination of support and obligation tends to be sufficient for the majority of jobseekers, but it is rarely effective for people with long-term or chronic health conditions that reduce their capacity to work, or for those with little or no record of employment.Often, the biggest challenge for such groups is finding an employer willing to take them on.

As such, the next phase of the Work Programme should continue to cater for JSA claimants who have not found work during a year with Jobcentre Plus. However, only ESA claimants close to recovering from a temporary health condition should continue to participate in it.The Work Programme’s activation strategies are likely to be appropriate for this group. This segmentation should be determined by a reformed work capability assessment (WCA), which should aim to better distinguish between temporary and chronic limitations to work capacity ESA claimants with a chronic health condition or disability that is likely to reduce their capacity to work for a long time should instead participate in a qualitatively different ‘New Start’ supported employment programme.

Contracts for the next Work Programme should be let on the basis of local enterprise partnership (LEP) geographies, matching the boundaries of combined authorities wherever possible.The next Work Programme should continue to reward providers when participants secure a job and then stay in work for a certain period. This would retain the current strong focus on employment outcomes and minimise the need for central prescription. However, providers should also receive an amount of funding for every participant (the ‘attachment fee’) throughout the whole contract period; this should not be progressively withdrawn, as it is now.

To prevent long-term unemployment, if someone has not found work after a year on the Work Programme they should be guaranteed paid work experience and be required to take it up. This would mean that no one could spend more than two years unemployed (one year on the Work Programme rather than two, plus an initial year with Jobcentre Plus). This ‘job guarantee’ should involve 25 hours a week of meaningful work for up to six months, paid at least the minimum wage, with another 10 hours a week of training and help with looking for work on the open labour market. People should not be able to continue receiving JSA if they refuse this offer. In time, a similar offer and obligation could be extended to ESA claimants on the Work Programme, consistent with their capacity to work.

Like the Work Programme, this job guarantee for the long-term unemployed should be organised on the basis of LEP geographies, with its delivery led by either a combined authority, a consortia of local authorities within an LEP, a contracted provider, or the local Jobcentre Plus. Public, private and voluntary sector organisations should be able to bid for funding to offer paid work placements that are of value to both the individual and the community.To pay for this policy, we propose scrapping the government’s Help to Work scheme for those who leave the Work Programme without a job.However, it is not certain how much this would raise – and the aim would be as little as possible, due to effective provider performance.Therefore, to complete the funding of a job guarantee, we propose raising the higher rate of capital gains tax (CGT) from 28 to 35 per cent, and devoting £220 million of the £400 million a year it would raise (based on estimates in HMRC 2014) to prevent long-term unemployment.

Despite an improving labour market, disabled people continue to face a substantial employment penalty.This suggests that worklessness among disabled people is largely structural, and not strongly linked to the economic cycle.

However, there are a significant number of people who have a long-term health condition that will affect their capacity to work for a long time, possibly permanently (in terms of the hours or the type of paid employment they can undertake), but which need not prevent them from working altogether.The notion of ‘distance from the labour market’ sets up a binary distinction between whether someone can or cannot work, rather than asking what kind of employment might be possible and what it would take for that to be enabled.Despite contrary intentions, the WCA remains a gateway to benefits, rather than to support with securing work.

We suggest that such a supported employment programme for ESA claimants with a long-term health condition should be named ‘New Start’, to indicate a fresh, positive approach that is rooted in disabled people’s own potential and capacities. New Start should also replace the specialist disability employment programme, Work Choice, when its contracts expire. To be effective, the introduction of New Start would need to be combined with reforms to the WCA that orientate it towards identifying the kinds of work that an individual could undertake, and the support they are likely to need to be able to do so, rather than simply operating as a gateway to benefits.Unlike traditional back-to-work programmes, this approach seeks to directly confront the so-called ‘demand-side’ problem, by working with specific employers to make a successful job match possible.Moreover, it would treat employment as often being an essential part of treatment or condition-management, rather than this being something that must precede entry into work.

By charting a course between traditional ‘activation’ strategies and ‘no support, no conditionality’ tracks, the aim would be for more ESA claimants to engage in back-to-work activity, and for fewer to enter the support group.

The fundamental principle of New Start should be that anyone who wants to work can do so. It should have a positive and empowering culture designed to nurture and unlock individuals’ talents and capacities. For this reason, participants should not be mandated to participate in particular activities. However, there should be an obligation on ESA claimants to engage with New Start, and to take responsibility for their own situation. This should involve regular meetings with an employment adviser, and the agreement of a personal employment plan. If a claimant persistently fails to engage with their adviser, there should be a backstop of benefit sanctions. However, this should only be triggered after a face-to-face meeting with a personal adviser to review activity, assess personal circumstances and better understand any underlying problems that are getting in the way of employment.

We therefore recommend that the New Start programme be led by local areas, tapping into local leadership and relationships. It should form part of wider strategies to integrate local services, rather than attempting to drive this process from Whitehall, which has rarely proved effective. Local councils often have far more established relationships with ESA claimants, such as through social housing or social services, than Jobcentre Plus, which has limited contact with this group.

The connection between health and employment services would be particularly important – and has been made more possible by the recent devolution of public health funding to local government, alongside the local clinical commissioning group (CCG) structure. Better employment outcomes would in turn help to improve local health outcomes and potentially reduce local health spending. The role of housing, adult social services, further education and, in some cases, probation or drug and alcohol treatment services in New Start could also be crucial.In addition, local councils should aim to draw in further capacity and resources from primary and secondary health services in their area. This could involve mobilising the active involvement of GPs, and securing agreement for the local CCG to commission occupational health and mental health services consistent with the local New Start plan. Making employment a more prominent focus within the NHS Mandate would further boost such efforts.

If this funding could be further matched by CCGs and LEPs across the country, New Start would have an annual budget of £800 million. With funding at this level, the programme could work with 400,000 ESA claimants – more than three times the number participating in the Work Programme each year.

At this scale, New Start would have the potential to make a substantial impact on the employment rate of people with long-term health conditions or disabilities, while significantly reducing expenditure on ESA and related benefits. Local areas should be free to give participants the right to take New Start support as a personal budget, and to provide a version of a job guarantee backstop to limit the amount of time for which local ESA participants were without work.Therefore, to support the New Start programme, we recommend that small firms are allowed to recover virtually all of the SSP costs they incur for individuals hired directly from ESA. This would reduce the risk of taking on someone who is more likely to take periods of sick leave.

Requiring employers to bear a small portion of the cost would retain an incentive for them to help people on sick leave return to work quickly.This change should be accompanied by ongoing efforts to confront disability discrimination, improve employers’ understanding of disability in the workplace, and increase opportunities for flexible working.Therefore, keeping more people healthy and in work could make a big difference to the number of people who enter the benefit system.With this in mind, the government is currently in the process of introducing a ‘health and work service’ to provide voluntary advice and support to employers and employees, available from the fourth week of sickness absence.

To overcome these challenges, we propose that it be made mandatory for an occupational health plan to be agreed between an employer and employee after 13 weeks of sickness absence, with the input of an occupational health expert. Employees should be obliged to engage with this plan, consistent with their health, and employers should also have obligations to consider reasonable changes that would facilitate a return to work. These could include the offer of an alternative position with the same employer, though with no obligation for the employee to accept a reduction in their terms or conditions at this stage. The aim of these plans should be to promote more active engagement between employer and employee. However, in some cases it might become necessary for an employment tribunal to test whether both parties have done enough to fulfil their obligations.At present, employees are entitled to statutory sick leave for up to 28 weeks if they fall ill or acquire a health condition or disability while in work. If people exhaust their SSP entitlement, they may then have their employment contract terminated.

Therefore, as part of the implementation of universal credit, we recommend that the ESA assessment phase be scrapped, as it automatically delays the point at which people switch their focus from claiming benefit to returning to work. For those who have exhausted employer-funded sick pay, there should instead be an equivalent period of conditional, state-funded sick pay. In such circumstances, the employment contract should be protected during this period, in order to give employees a little longer to recover and return to work, matched by obligations on them to take steps to do so. The employee should have to agree an updated back-to-work plan with their employer, an occupational health expert and a Jobcentre Plus adviser. The goal would be to exhaust absolutely every opportunity for rehabilitation and a return to work, including a requirement to accept alternative job offers from their employer.

For those making a claim for ESA that does not follow a period of sickness-related absence from work, the consequence of scrapping the ESA assessment phase would be to remove the inbuilt three-month wait before a WCA is carried out. This wait is actively damaging for those without a recent job, as it delays the point at which a person’s focus switches from benefit entitlement to a return to work.

 

I know this is long winded but  it is important to those who need to understand the thinking behind the neoliberal fuckup they face in a future government. It isn’t about you the individual its about them getting as many into work as possible (not that is bad thing if you can) and reducing the welfare bill, while handing out more contracts for others to make a mint ,in my opinion they are no better than people traffickers to make a fast buck in this case for for the 1%.

 

http://www.ippr.org/publications/the-condition-of-britain-strategies-for-social-renewal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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