Posts tagged ‘politics’

The 2 yr Job Rule for Disabled on Universal Credit is not True!


 

In the last few days it has been widely reported by various bloggers that those disabled claimants claiming Universal Credit are subjected to finding a job within two years or face a 1 year sanction. This is utter fabrication and feeding many claimants fears which could potentially cause harm. So today I called Welfare Rights ,who called DWP while I remained on the phone, they denied that this information was correct and was downright alarmist and dangerous. That doesnt mean I trust DWP and have submitted a FOI too given 7 years of shenanigans. So you see folks, you can take the fear project and destroy it with Facts!

Those who will be put on Universal Credit (UC) will have to sign the claimant commitment regardless, some will be subjected to full conditionality some will have their conditionality limited depending on the circumstances, and subject to sanctions if they fail to comply with the agreed commitments they agreed with work coach via the Work Plan,My 4 steps,My Values documents.  (Document links provided at bottom of the blog.)

As promised last night, the SKWAWKBOX has been looking further into conflicting reports from DWP insiders concerning the WRAG (work-related activity group) category into which the government, more or less arbitrarily, places some disability benefit claimants and the possibility of sanctions after a fixed period of two years under the Universal Credit (UC) system if claimants have not found work.

Some activists insisted that this was part of the UC system and this was initially confirmed by long-term DWP employees. Others subsequently disputed it. The only thing all were agreed on was that the rules are ill-conceived and extremely confusing.

The SKWAWKBOX contacted a PCS union official who specialises in UC for clarification and received this response:

 

I’ve been looking at the regulations and I can’t find anything that refers specifically to a fixed time limit in which to find employment.

That is right, because no fixed time limit exists in the regulations

 

The ‘disabled’ argument, as I’m sure you are aware, is notorious because ultimately the Department through the provide contractors are essentially able to define who is fit or not for work.

For example, a claimant maybe moved from ESA to UC on the back of a WCA [Work Capability Assessment]. The claimant may disagree with the decision but they are stuck.

If they are adamant they are not fit for work, they could refuse employment in an environment they believe will affect their health.

 

If they have been found to have no Limited Capability for Work, they cannot refuse employment. The fact that claimants think they are unfit for work has been the main issue with the flawed WCA since 2008

 

This is where the sanction process comes in – a 13wk, 26wk and 156wk sanction could apply (although similar regs existed prior to UC and the 2012 Welfare Reform Act if not as harsh or severe).

 

In this case you’re looking at failure to apply, not accepting work or leaving on one’s own accord. Their argument is they aren’t fit, the department will still look at sanctions.

The circumstances described here apply to somebody who has not been found to have Limited Capability for Work.

 

The sanction regime is clearly arbitrary, deeply unfair and dangerous – but there is no rule mandating a fixed time-limit for a claimant to find work.

Again no time limit

 

However, another PCS/DWP source warned that while the rules don’t include such a limit, the way they are applied may not be as clear cut:

I can tell you that we have received complaints from WRAG claimants about having their ESA revoked after two years. And now they are treated as JSA claimants because they are ‘fit for work but not necessarily their precious occupation(s)’.

ESA cannot be revoked. It simply cannot be claimed after a claimant has been found fit for work. Previous occupations are not a consideration. That has always been the case.

 

Sanctions have been applied because the claimant has not fulfilled their requirement to find work. The purpose of the WRAG was to enable people to return to work despite being disabled, but this component has now been removed as WRAG claimants are now treated as jobseekers.

 

WRAG claimants under UC are described as having Limited Capability for Work.. They are not required to search for, be available for and start work, and cannot be sanctioned for not doing so, but they are required to accept work preparation requirements within their commitment and attend WFIs

.

 

Other WRAG claimants have been booted off ESA or the sickness element of UC after a period of two years because they failed their WCA – deliberate decision to bully them back to work.

 

Some claimants will fail their WCA after 2 years. Others after 6 months, 12 months  etc.

2 years is actually a prognosis period, meaning a number of people are reassessed at this stage. Unless there is any evidence of a pattern, this period of 2 years is meaningless

 

Thanks too to Anita Bellows who has worked with me on this 🙂

 

So you see folks, you can take the fear project and destroy it with Facts! 

https://www.scribd.com/document/353594773/4c-ESAHWC1

https://www.scribd.com/document/353595852/CC-O18-E15

https://www.scribd.com/document/352833734/CC-Work-Preparation-Activities-v1-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/353603319/1359203507-UJcompanyleafletJCP

https://www.scribd.com/document/354185048/CC-Requirement-to-Accept-a-Claimant-Commitment-v2-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/354185364/cc-commitment-not-accepted-v1-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/354185650/My-4-Steps-Template

https://www.scribd.com/document/354187257/1816-my-values-1-pdf

https://www.scribd.com/document/349517725/UC-Claimant-Committment

https://www.scribd.com/document/349520361/FTS-FTP-in-WFI-and-Failure-to-Undertake-Work-Related-Activity

https://www.scribd.com/document/349517543/Handout-08-01-Commitment-Pack-v7-7

https://www.scribd.com/document/354182466/Dealing-With-Sanctions-Facsheet-4

https://www.scribd.com/document/353627563/HWC-Exemptions

 

Read Frank Zola Blog below;

https://mrfrankzola.wordpress.com/2017/07/18/disability-rights-uk-disrightsuk-questions-why-dwp-esa-health-work-conversation-mandatory-foi/

Update…….. “The Article originally produced by SKWAWKBOX. Claiming to that Disabled Persons could only claim UC for 24 months, is a mishmash of quotes from Gen William Taggart, who was actually talking about an Early ‘Draft’ of the Welfare Reform Acts. At no time did Gen. T directly associate this with Disabled Persons, in fact it was just a heads up for activists/advocates etc, to remember not to get complacent about the Statutory Instrument placed within the Welfare Reform Acts. “

Universal Credit Report -Hidden dangerous policy decisions that will cause harm


This report from Disability Campaigner Gail Ward is a must read for all benefit claimants and those claiming  ‘in work’ benefits claimed by millions in the UK. It has plenty of references and downloads contained within the document and it will alarm many, it should, as this government is targeting the poorest in society at the expense of saving the rich. Some of those already transferred will know the horrors already highlighted recently by Citizens Advice (CAB),but the majority do not. This blog doesn’t have the capacity to embed the entire report to enable reading online ,but you can download it from the link below in the hope that this will help many prepare for the next onslaught by this barbaric government whose sole purpose is to hound claimants, and save money for the state putting profit before people. If you thought WCA (ESA) was bad this will make it look relatively tame.

 

https://www.scribd.com/document/353794654/Universal-Credit-Report

Universal Credit -The conversation nobody is talking about


This is likely to be a very long blog and I make no apologies as this is important information we all need to get to grips with to survive.

 

Universal Credit (UC) is slowly being rolled out across the UK for some claimants , mainly single claimants and to be continued for couples. The legacy benefits that people are currently getting will eventually become Universal Credit,which runs a live programme (with gateway conditions) and a full rollout programme (no gateway conditions)alongside each other. Advisors will need to determine which is operating in their area and inform clients and explain in full their rights and eligibility. The fact that some will get hit hard  is just the scratch on surface to the vile and brutal conditions of the health & work programme which is incorporated within it. ESA Claimants in WRAG (Work Related Activity Group) will lose the £30 a week inline with JSA for new claims while others migrating will get transitional protection until they have a change circumstances,or appeal, then they will lose it. If you have a change of circumstances at present on ESA  in a UC area  you will be put on UC and stay on it you wont be able to go back to your legacy benefit. For those on ESA it you will continue be assessed via WCA (Work Capability Assessment ) as you are now, but support group will be required to engage with claimant commitment to continue to receive payment according to UC documents. The specialist employment programmes are likely to be part of this commitment if the work coach feels the claimant could move closer to labour market. This will be done via Health & Work Conversation with a Work Coach.

 

Framework The claimant is supported in this regime by use of their Commitment. The claimant agrees their Commitment and is required to alert Universal Credit to any upcoming unemployment and changes of circumstance. The claimant can be sign posted to relevant support depending on their circumstances.

Claimants in this regime may still need or require some support in helping them to move closer to the labour market. If this applies, flexibility exists to sign post claimants to non-funded voluntary support. Consider existing voluntary options in the local area.

 

Support groups claimants will also be hit by losing SDP (Severe Disability Premium) which is currently £62.45 a week for single people and £124.90 for couples unless someone gets Carers Allowance to help you then the single rate will continue,providing you get middle or high rate care needs. Carers too will be affected if they care for a disabled person

 

If other benefits are received, this may impact on the Universal Credit award. Some benefits are ignored whereas other benefits have a pound for pound impact on the Universal Credit award.

Other benefits Universal Credit should not be paid to claimants with enough income available from other sources to support themselves. Exceptions are where payments are received in respect of additional costs which the claimant has, for example disability benefits.

Claimants who receive other benefits in addition to Universal Credit are subject to the relevant Universal Credit Labour Market regime based on their relevant Universal Credit legal conditionality group.
Other benefits taken fully into account The following benefits are taken fully into account when calculating Universal Credit payments:  Bereavement Allowance  Carer’s Allowance  New style Employment and Support Allowance (contribution-based)  Incapacity Benefit  Severe Disablement Allowance  Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit  New style Jobseeker’s Allowance (contribution-based)  Maternity Allowance  State Pension  Widowed Mother’s Allowance  Widowed Parent’s Allowance  Widow’s Pension

This means for each £1 received from these benefits, the Universal Credit payment is reduced by £1.

Any benefit, allowance or payment from a country outside the United Kingdom could also be taken fully into account, depending on the circumstances.

Pension Credit Universal Credit offers a signposting service for State Pension Credit (SPC).Claimants can find further information about SPC on Gov.UK. A benefit unit cannot be in receipt of both Pension Credit and Universal Credit. One of the basic conditions for getting Universal Credit is that a claimant must not be over the qualifying age for SPC.

This is called the Upper Age Limit.
Joint claim The Upper Age Limit doesn’t apply if the person over State Pension age is in a joint claim and their partner has not reached that age. Both adults are eligible for Universal Credit providing all other conditions of entitlement are met. The person over the SPC qualifying age is exempt from work conditionality and will be placed in the no work related requirements regime. Example: One adult in a couple is 57 and the other is 75. Both are able to claim Universal Credit together as a joint claim in the normal way.

Once Universal Credit Full Service is live nationally for all new claims, couples with only one person over the Pension Credit qualifying age will no longer be eligible for Pension Credit. This will ensure that the younger member of the couple has access to support to find work, if appropriate.

The person over the SPC qualifying age is exempt from work conditionality and will be placed in the no work related requirements regime.

So even some pensioners will be targeted as the above example illustrates. Also targeted are single parents .

 

This combined with the benefit cap now  and the family cap (2 child Rule) from 2018, will also face cuts to housing benefits via LHA being reduced with those in private accommodation hit by a new Bedroom Tax and Supported Mortgage Interest being turned into a loan will hit virtually impacting on everyone especially those who are in work too and off sick. The latter will now face 4 wks fit note and then a assessment to determine eligibility to top up benefits to SSP, and subjected to claimant commitment conditions. Those in exceptional circumstances such as Domestic Violence, etc will get the opportunity to ask for alternative payments arrangements so they are not left penniless by abusive partners. Nobody will be deemed exempt it seems, from the vile clutches of this ‘monster’ created by the government and these things need to be urgently addressed and with Brexit around the corner and prices rising already the poorest will most likely be affected the most. There are even two regimes to get people into labour market depending on your given  perceived status. one is Light Touch and the other is Intensive regimes. It is impossible to upload all documents which are many, but main ones are listed below as now is the time to plan ahead to help people understand how Universal Credit can affect you and your families understand the system to make sure you can understand what is expected of them.

One the many hideous things hidden in the Health and Work Programme is IAPT (CBT therapy) which will become compulsory as well as Troubled Families roll out, and targets to enforce therapy regimes on those who are obese, drink,drugs,smokers. Refusing to  take part in this mandatory requirement you will cease to be entitled to Universal Credit.Those considered in debt  and financially vulnerable will also be put forward to personal budgeting support advice where they will be judged and no doubt blamed for buying services that the nanny state deem expensive/unnecessary given the amount they have to live on. Health and Work Blog is linked below.

This Government has excelled itself in brutality towards claimants of social security,while convincing the populace of the UK that demonising the poorest is the acceptable norm and that they are fair game to be abused and they are not worthy as they are unable to contribute in same way a fit able bodied person , leading to further division. While this is not in depth Blog I have included relevant documents for download and uploaded a powerpoint to help people understand how they will be affected.

Anyone needing further advice can use the calculator link below to find out how they will be affected or seek proper advice locally and this blogger would urge people to check how you will be affected to prevent distress and income depravation.

http://www.entitledto.co.uk/benefits-calculator/startcalc.aspx

 

https://www.scribd.com/document/349604179/Housing-Costs-Private-Rented-Sector-v4-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/349604161/Housing-Mortgages-Previously-MQPs-v3-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/349517725/UC-Claimant-Committment

https://www.scribd.com/document/349526820/hwc-claimant-booklet

https://www.scribd.com/document/349520880/Customers-With-Additional-Needs

https://www.scribd.com/document/352763377/Carers-V4-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352763488/Universal-Credit-and-APAs

https://www.scribd.com/document/352764924/Personal-Budgeting-Support-Guidance

https://www.scribd.com/document/352765382/Labour-Market-Regimes-V4-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352833624/Appointees-v4-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352833674/Benefit-Cap-v3-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352833734/CC-Work-Preparation-Activities-v1-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352833773/Child-Maintenance-V1-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352833815/childcare-costs-at-a-glance-v2-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352833897/Health-Conditions-and-Disabilities-v5-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352834778/Students-v5-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/352834943/UC-Monthly-Rates-v5-0

 

 

 

https://blueannoyed.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/the-health-work-programme-is-work-really-a-health-outcome/

 

 

UPDATES : More documents have been uploaded including the powerpoint below, Please also check out my blog on Dementia Tax , Cuts that will cut Deep blog also.

 

https://www.scribd.com/presentation/352840015/Universal-Credit

 

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.”

 

STATE CRIME BY PROXY: corporate influence on state sanctioned social harm


An independent report by Mo Stewart

 

Abstract

In the UK there are three words that identify the government enforced suffering of sick and disabled people, and they are: Work Capability Assessment (WCA). This report identifies the influence of an American healthcare insurance giant with successive UK governments since 1992, the influence of a former government Chief Medical Officer and the use of the WCA, conducted by the private sector, as the government permit state crime by proxy when justified as welfare reform.

 

Introduction

Historically, the United Kingdom’s (UK) welfare state provided a guaranteed financial safety net for those in greatest need, from the Beveridge Report (Beveridge 1942) until recently. However, with people living longer and the cost of the welfare budget rising, in 2006 the New Labour government identified future welfare reforms (DWP 2006) to reduce the growing costs of out-of-work disability benefits. Identified as ‘a political choice and not a financial necessity’ when introduced ‘without any ethical approval’ (McKee 2014), the adoption of additional austerity measures by the Conservative led Coalition government in 2010, which accelerated the welfare reforms, soon created a climate of fear for chronically sick and disabled claimants dependent upon welfare income for financial survival. Subsequently, government imposed benefit sanctions, used to enforce the welfare reforms, would eventually cause death by starvation in C21st UK (Gentleman 2014). The future demolition of the welfare state was first suggested in 1982 by the Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher (Travis 2012). Using neoliberal politics, every UK government since that time has covertly worked towards that goal. It is the political thinking used as justification for the welfare reforms of the New Labour government, which introduced the use of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) for all out-of-work disability benefit claimants (Stewart 2015), and for the extensive welfare reforms and austerity measures introduced by the Coalition government since 2010, and the Conservative government since 2015.

In 2008 the out-of-work disability benefit was changed from Incapacity Benefit to the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), in an attempt by the then New Labour government to limit claimant numbers. Outsourced to the private sector, all claimants of the new ESA would be subjected to the WCA ‘fitness for work’ assessment, as exclusively conducted by Atos Healthcare, with the WCA using the critically flawed (Shakespeare et al 2016) biopsychosocial (BPS) assessment model (Waddell and Aylward 2005), adopted to limit the numbers of successful ESA claimants, as the diagnosis and prognosis of the claimants would be totally disregarded, as first advised by Aylward in 1995 (Aylward and LoCascio 1995: 755).

Using the BPS model, the WCA was identified as causing preventable harm to chronically sick and disabled claimants who were not fit to work (Stewart 2011, Jolly 2012, Hale 2014), together with the inevitable harm created by the adoption of additional austerity measures (Pring 2015; Barr et al 2015; Stewart 2016a; Garthwaite 2016; Shakespeare et al 2016; Elward 2016), with all additional research evidence disregarded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), who exclusively cite DWP commissioned research in official reports.

Background

Following in Thatcher’s footsteps, in 1992 the John Major Conservative government invited the American corporate giant UnumProvident Insurance to consult, with reference to future welfare claims management. By 1994, the company were appointed as official government advisers and the 1994 Social Security (Incapacity for Work) Act introduced Incapacity Benefit, as designed to limit access to out-ofwork disability benefit (Wikeley 1995), which had significantly increased due to increasing numbers of claims for psychological causes of illness.

By 1995, the Department for Social Security’s (DSS) then Principal Medical Adviser, Mansel Aylward, co-authored an academic paper with UnumProvident government adviser John LoCascio, the second Vice-President of UnumProvident Insurance. ‘Problems in the assessment of psychosomatic conditions in social security and related commercial schemes’ (Aylward and LoCascio 1995) was supported by evidence from America, and argued that the UK’s General Practitioners (GP) should not be expected to determine a patient’s incapacity, and so the authority and clinical opinion of GPs would be curtailed (Aylward and LoCascio 1995: 755)

Prior to joining the Civil Service, Aylward was a GP and also worked in the private sector as Chairman and Managing Director of Simbec Research, from 1974 – 1984, which was a company founded by Aylward (Wales online 2004). Shortly after being appointed as the Principal Medical Adviser for the DSS, Aylward was identified in the national press as having been involved with the creation of a private company identified as Mediprobe, when trading as the Nationwide Medical Examination and Advisory Service Limited, and used by healthcare insurance companies to medically assess insurance claims (Rowe,1998). The company was incorporated in 1994 and dissolved on 20th January, 2015. This clear conflict of interest was disregarded by the DSS, yet Aylward’s significant links with the private healthcare insurance industry questions his objectivity when writing a future government commissioned report regarding the assessment of welfare claimants for disability benefit (Waddell and Aylward, 2005).

The 1995 paper (Aylward and LoCascio 1995) expressed concern as to the increases in ‘subjective impairments’, with conditions such as chronic pain and fatigue syndrome listed as the significance of diagnosis was rejected as having ‘a high degree of subjectivity’. This had implications for the welfare budget, and it was suggested that claimants of Incapacity Benefit should have a psychiatric evaluation (Aylward and Lo Cascio 1995:760).

The introduction of the biopsychosocial (BPS) model of assessment had been successfully adopted by UnumProvident Insurance in America, to limit payment for healthcare income protection insurance claims (Rutherford 2007, Bach 2012, Stewart 2015), and LoCascio was guiding the DSS as to how to introduce the BPS model into the UK. Quite literally, by disregarding diagnosis, the main emphasis of the BPS assessment would be an excessive concentration on psychological factors. The DSS doctors were trained by LoCascio, and DSS non-medical Adjudicating Officers would make benefit decisions based on activity ‘descriptors’, not medical evidence, as the claimant’s doctors’ opinions were marginalised (Sivier 2013).

The former Department for Health and Social Security was split into the Department for Health and the Department for Social Security (DSS) in 1988 and the DSS was then renamed the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in June 2001. By November 2001 a conference was assembled at Woodstock, near Oxford, with the conference listed as ‘Malingering and Illness Deception’ (Conference 2001). Many of the conference participants had an association with UnumProvident Insurance, as represented by John LoCascio, and the goal of the Oxford conference was the future demolition of the British welfare state (Stewart 2015). There was a total of 39 participants, including the DWP Chief Medical Officer Mansel Aylward, and Malcolm Wicks, in his capacity as the then DWP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the New Labour government. To reduce the numbers eligible for benefit, illness would be redefined and many welfare claimants would be declared fit for work, and incentivised into jobs as entrepreneurs if no paid employment was available (Conference 2001: 290).

New Labour was committed to reducing the 2.7 million people claiming Incapacity Benefit and, to do that, a new assessment model would be used. From 1979 to 2005 the numbers of working age claimants of Incapacity Benefit had increased from 0.7m to 2.7m. A total of 21% were recorded as having a mental health problem in 1995 but, by 2005, a total of 39% of claimants had a mental health problem, which was just under 1 million people (Rutherford 2007: 40). Since that time, politicians of all persuasions have prioritised the reduction of Incapacity Benefit claimant numbers by 1 million people. New Labour decided to alter this situation, which had implications for the welfare budget and so ‘…claimants will become customers exercising their free rational choice, government services will be outsourced to the private sector, and the welfare system will become a new source of revenue, profitability and economic growth’ (Rutherford 2007: 41).

More DWP commissioned research was to follow to justify future government plans. Dr Mansel Aylward was the DWP Chief Medical Officer until 2005 and accepted his future appointment, as the Director of the new UnumProvident Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research (the Centre) at Cardiff University in 2004, with no-one other than Professor Malcolm Hooper objecting to this very obvious conflict of interest (Stewart 2015).

 

The Waddell-Aylward biopsychosocial model

Commissioned by the DWP, the Scientific and Conceptual Basis of Incapacity Benefits (S/C Basis) was rapidly produced in 2005 by Gordon Waddell and Mansel Aylward (Waddell and Aylward 2005), when both authors were sponsored at the Centre with £1.6 million by UnumProvident Insurance (Cover 2004), who fully expected to gain from the UK welfare reforms, and the planned future reduction of the numbers eligible for State funded welfare support for sickness and disability (Stewart 2015).

The S/C Basis DWP commissioned report (Waddell and Aylward 2005) was used as evidence for much of the 2006 Green Paper (Green Paper 2006): A New Deal for Welfare: empowering people to work 2006, which criticised the ‘perverse incentive’ of giving people more money the longer they stayed on benefit (Green Paper 2:13). The Green Paper also claimed that up to one million people could return to work, with further political claims that a million DWP claimants had expressed the wish to do so, which was dismissed as being without foundation in the S/C Basis footnote 16 (Ravetz 2006).

The S/C Basis report (Waddell and Aylward 2005) identified Incapacity Benefit which it claimed ‘traps’ people on benefits and, effectively, condemned claimants to a lifetime of dependency. The report acknowledged that: ‘Contrary to some sensational headlines, IB is not out of control… There is no “crisis”…’ (S/C Basis, 4: 75) The emphasis of the DWP commissioned S/C Basis report by Waddell and Aylward (2005) was that the model used to assess Incapacity Benefit claimants was incorrect and, instead of using the medical model, which the report claimed focused on a claimant’s incapacity rather than their ability, the Waddell and Aylward recommended model to be used was the biopsychosocial (BPS) model.

Of course, the medical model of assessment also acknowledged medical opinion, so it was time to change to using the BPS model of assessment, which disregards medical opinion in order to limit the possible number of future claimants. This was a replica of the BPS assessment model successfully introduced by UnumProvident Insurance in America to limit access to healthcare insurance claims and to guarantee future profits (Stewart 2015, Bach 2012, Rutherford 2007).

Waddell and Aylward’s 2005 report (S/C Basis), which would be used by the New Labour government to justify the introduction of the welfare reforms, was subsequently exposed by Emeritus Professor Alison Ravetz, who identified the DWP commissioned report as being ‘largely self-referential’ (Ravetz 2006). The Waddell and Aylward designed BPS model would eventually be discredited by academic excellence, which exposed the Waddell and Aylward BPS model as having ‘no coherent theory or evidence behind this model ‘and demonstrated ‘a cavalier approach to scientific evidence’ (Shakespeare et al 2016), when referencing ‘Models of Sickness and Disability applied to Common Health Problems’ (Waddell and Aylward 2010).

The former city banker, David Freud, was commissioned by the New Labour government in December 2006 to offer recommendations to reduce the welfare budget. Commonly known as ‘the Freud Report’, ‘Reducing Dependency, Increasing Opportunity’ (Freud 2007) was rapidly produced in six weeks, with claims of a potential massive reduction in Incapacity Benefit claimants. By May 2007 Professor Danny Dorling, when writing as the Guest Editor for the Journal of Public Mental Health, exposed the identified flaws in the Freud Report. It seems that Freud had ‘got his numbers wrong’ and had misinterpreted his own references, so there never was going to be the predicted massive fall in claimant numbers (Dorling 2007).

The protocol and limitations of being published in an academic journal meant that Dorling’s substantial evidence, which had exposed significant flaws in the Freud Report, would not become public knowledge and the DWP based their future welfare reforms on more totally discredited DWP commissioned research. Enobled, never elected and appointed as the DWP Shadow Minister for Welfare Reform in 2009, in 2010 Freud was appointed as the DWP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Coalition government and was reappointed as the DWP Minister of State for Welfare Reform in May 2015 for the Conservative government. A DWP press release in December 2016 announced Freud’s retirement from his ministerial position (DWP 2016a) and claimed that Freud had been ‘…the architect of welfare reform, which has revolutionised the way benefit claimants interact with the state’.

The influence of UnumProvident Insurance with the UK welfare reforms was demonstrated in the supplementary memorandums provided for Work and Pensions Select Committee (WPSC) reports, which clearly listed the transformation of Incapacity Benefit to the new ESA out-of-work disability benefit. The requirement to ‘resist diagnosis’, ‘revise the ‘sick note’, ‘encourage the Government to focus on ability and not disability’, ‘change the name of Incapacity Benefit’ and ‘benefits not to be given on the basis of a certain disability or illness but on capacity assessments’ have all come to pass, as UnumProvident Insurance have influenced UK government welfare policy since 1994 (Stewart 2015). Yet, the fact that UnumProvident Insurance was identified, in 2008, by the American Association of Justice (AAJ, 2008) as the second worst insurance company in America was totally disregarded by the DWP.

Gordon Brown succeeded Tony Blair in 2007 as the New Labour leader and Prime Minister and, in 2008, introduced the WCA for the future reassessment of all Incapacity Benefit claimants, and the assessment for all new claimants of its replacement, the ESA. The lucrative WCA contract was outsourced to Atos Origin IT Ltd, identified as an international IT corporate giant with no healthcare experience. To conduct the WCA, a branch of the company identified as Atos Healthcare was formed, and the Lima software used for the WCA computer questionnaire was designed by Atos.

Adopted by the Brown government in 2008, following the introduction of New Labour’s 2006 Welfare Reform Bill, the recommendations from the 2001 Malingering and Illness Conference (Conference 2001), the S/C Basis DWP commissioned report (Waddell and Aylward 2005) and the Freud Report (Freud 2007) would greatly reduce the authority and the clinical opinion of GPs, and offer the assessment of claimants who are too sick or profoundly disabled to work to the private sector whose doctors, according to the General Medical Council, ‘have total immunity from all medical regulation’ (Stewart 2015). Based on the BPS model, the removal of the significance of GP opinion opened the door to the introduction of the WCA ‘non-medical’ assessment. This meant that very many genuine ESA claimants were to be refused financial support, and the ‘nonmedical’ BPS assessment of chronically ill people would be conducted by the unaccountable private sector, as recommended by Waddell, Aylward and LoCascio and by former City banker David Freud, when adviser to the New Labour government (Freud 2007). Atos Origin IT Services UK Limited is a French corporate IT and software company, who were contracted by the New Labour government in 2008 to conduct the WCA, at a then cost to the public purse of £500 million per annum (Rutherford 2007).

From 2010 Atos Healthcare used the computer based WCA questionnaire to begin to reassess all long-standing Incapacity Benefit claimants being migrated to the ESA. This meant that very many genuine claimants were refused financial support and instructed to apply for the unemployment benefit, Jobseekers Allowance, with severe sanctions and the total loss of income, often for weeks, when too ill to attend an appointment with the Jobcentre (Stewart 2016a). ‘It is discussed how the state and business act in collusion, as both generally share the same neoliberal conviction on how society should function. This partnership is no more evident than within welfare, where the state have established proxy measures to outsource harm production to distance themselves from potential ramifications’ (Elward 2016). In March 2015, Atos Healthcare were replaced by Maximus to conduct the WCA.

The American healthcare insurance system of disability denial was used for the design of the WCA (Stewart 2013), and the involvement of Atos Healthcare was used to distance the government from the preventable harm created by the use of the WCA. Identified state crime by proxy was knowingly created by the DWP, as the private sector was introduced on a wide scale in many areas of welfare and social policy (Elward 2016). As of February 2014, 92,000 people have died following a WCA, including 2,380 people who died after being found ‘fit for work’ (Butler 2015), as the DWP have again refused to publish the updated ESA mortality totals (DWP 2016b).

Zemiology is the study of social harm. Eight years after the introduction of the WCA, when using the totally discredited Waddell and Aylward (2005, 2010) BPS model of assessment (Shakespeare et al 2016), the preventable social harm created by the introduction of the WCA has been identified by independent research (Stewart 2015, Barr et al 2015, Baumberg et al 2015, Shakespeare et al 2016, Garthwaite 2016, Stewart 2016b), which continues to be disregarded by DWP Ministers. Instead, Ministers prefer to reference DWP commissioned policy based reports, or publications from a right-wing think-tank, whose research exclusively references DWP commissioned policy based research and demonstrates that the claimed ‘independent’ research is ideologically motivated (Robertson, 2012).

It remains cause for concern that, in keeping with Conservative Party ideology, certain corporate funded academic think-tank research demonstrates the ongoing influence of neoliberal politics in published reports when claiming: ‘…almost three quarters of claimants who have had their assessment are in the support group and subject to no conditionality, with very little support to return to work.’ (Pickles et al 2016: 6). This one statement demonstrates the danger of right-wing think-tanks whose research demonstrates that costs, not need, are the priority of the welfare reforms when presuming that people in the Support Group, allocated because they are considered by the DWP to be too ill to work, yet ‘independent researchers’ continue to suggest that there is a problem because these often very, very ill people haven’t yet made any effort to find work. One more example of the danger of commissioned academics considering cash not care, when totally disregarding diagnosis and prognosis in any welfare setting (Stewart 2016b).

These influential reports either commissioned by the DWP (Waddell and Aylward 2005, Aylward and LoCascio 1995), or provided by right-wing think-tanks (Pickles et al 2016) when funded by the private sector (Robertson 2012), continue to demonstrate the ideological resistance to the fact that many chronic illnesses are permanent. Recovery is not possible for many very ill people, and totally disregarding diagnosis and prognosis is dangerous as is the constant psychological pressure that welfare benefit for a permanent diagnosis is no longer guaranteed (Stewart 2015), and those in greatest need are intimidated by the DWP who have ‘…guaranteed human suffering of the least able on a vast scale.’ (Stewart 2017)
What was once the psychological security of the welfare state has been totally destroyed by neoliberal politics, when enthusiastically supported by the national press (Stewart 2017). The market is the dominant force, costs are the only priority, and all evidence of care, concern and compassion has been successfully removed when using academic research that lacks credibility and totally fails scrutiny (Shakespeare et al 2016, Stewart 2016b).

Conclusion

By disregarding diagnosis, prognosis and the claimant’s past medical history, when using the Waddell and Aylward (2005) BPS model for the WCA, the constant suggestion by DWP Ministers is that claimants of out-of-work disability benefit are ‘inactive’, so disregarding the vast numbers of chronically ill and disabled people who do work in the voluntary sector whenever well enough. By definition, anyone allocated to the Support Group following a WCA are too ill to work in paid employment. But, the constant political rhetoric insists that not enough people leave the Support Group to find work (Pickles et al 2016). There seems to be no comprehension that working in paid employment is inflexible, whereas working in the voluntary sector means that chronically ill volunteers can work when having a ‘good day’, and rest when too ill to contemplate leaving the house. This is very obvious to anyone whose healthcare trained, and whose priority is the welfare and wellbeing of the chronically ill claimant and not simply the desire to reduce the costs of the welfare budget, regardless of human consequences (Stewart 2016a).

There is a strong ideological resistance within the DWP as to the reality of the lives of chronically sick and disabled people. The DWP disregard the fact that many ESA claimants are profoundly ill, and will never recover regardless of intimidation and coercion. Relentless DWP threats of benefit sanctions, using a discredited assessment model (Shakespeare et al 2016) that totally disregards failing health and can oblige claimants to seek Jobseekers Allowance when deemed ‘fit to work’ regardless of diagnosis, prognosis or consultant medical opinion (Stewart 2016b) was always guaranteed to cause preventable harm on a vast scale. When advised by Waddell and Aylward (2005), illness is dismissed by the DWP, as is diagnosis and prognosis, and this problem remains relentless and a constant threat to the wellbeing and the survival of chronically ill claimants.

Due to policies demonstrated to have created state crime by proxy when using the private sector to distance the government from the predictable inevitable harm created by the introduction of extreme right-wing policies (Elward 2016, Stewart 2016b), those who were meant to benefit from a welfare state as originally designed to protect them, now live in fear of the DWP, which is causing them guaranteed preventable harm and unnecessary loss of life (Scott-Samuel et al 2014, Gentleman 2014, Pring 2015, Butler 2015, Elward 2016, Stewart 2017).

 

Acknowledgements

Grateful thanks to Lewis Elward for access to his Masters dissertation and his kind permission to quote from it.

Funding

This research received no grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

 

References

American Association of Justice 2008: The Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America.https://www.justice.org/sites/default/files/fileuploads/AAJ_Report_TenWorstInsuranceCompanies_FINAL.pdf

Aylward M and LoCascio J 1995: Problems in the assessment of psychosomatic conditions in social security and related commercial schemes. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 39, 6, 755-765

Bach M 2012: DWP, Atos, Business and Unum Insurance. http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosbusinessunum.html

Barr B, Taylor-Robinson, Stuckler D, Loopstra R, Reeves A, Whitehead M 2015: ‘First do no Harm’ : Are Disability Assessments Associated with Adverse Trends in Mental Health? A Longitudinal Ecological Study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 70: 339-345

Beveridge 1942: Beveridge Report and post war reforms 1942: http://www.psi.org.uk/publications/archivepdfs/Victims/VV2.pdf

Butler P 2015: Thousands have died after being found fit for work. The Guardian, 27th August

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/27/thousands-died-after-fit-for-work-assessment-dwp-figure

Conference 2001: Malingering and Illness Deception. Oxford University Press 2003

Cover 2004: UnumProvident teams up with Cardiff University http://www.covermagazine.co.uk/cover/news/2151231/unumprovident-teamscardiff-university

Dorling D 2007: Guest Editorial: The Real Mental Health Bill Journal of Public Mental Health 6, 3, 6 – 13

DWP 2006: Welfare reform green paper: incapacity benefit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/welfare-reform-green-paperincapacity-benefit

DWP 2016a: Lord Freud to retire from ministerial role. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/lord-freud-to-retire-from-ministerial-role

DWP 2016b: Social Security Benefits: Written questions – 41684 https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answersstatements/written-question/Commons/2016-07-04/41684/

Elward L R 2016: Corporate Welfare Crime : two case studies in state-corporate harm. MA Dissertation, the University of Liverpool.  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311683866_Corporate_Welfare_Crime_ Two_Case_Studies_in_State-Corporate_Harm

Freud D 2007: Reducing dependency, increasing opportunity: options for the future of welfare to work. Department for Work and Pensions.

Garthwaite K 2016: Hunger pains ~ life inside foodbank Britain Bristol: Policy Press

Gentleman A 2014: Vulnerable man starved to death after benefits were cut. The Guardian 28th February.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/28/man-starved-to-death-afterbenefits-cut

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Hale C 2014: Fulfilling Potential? ESA and the fate of the Work-Related Activity Group. The Centre for Welfare Reform

Jolly D 2012: A Tale of Two Models: Disabled people vs Unum, Atos, Government and disability charities. The Centre for Disability Studies, the University of Leeds

McKee M 2014: Austerity, A Failed Experiment on the People You Tube recorded talk in New Zealand https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7Fd-uBRPqY

Pickles C, Homes E, Titley H, Dobson B 2016: Working welfare: a radically new approach to sickness and disability benefits. REFORM February 2016

Pring J 2015: Coroner’s ‘ground-breaking’ verdict: Suicide was ‘triggered’ by ‘fit for work’ test. Disability News Service, 18th September.

Ravetz A 2006: Green Paper: A New Deal for Welfare: empowering people to work. An independent assessment of the arguments for proposed Incapacity Benefit reform. The Centre for Disability Studies, the University of Leeds.

Robertson A 2012: Social Investigations: Reform think tank and their links to the Conservative Party.http://socialinvestigations.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/reform-think-tank-and-theirlinks-to.html

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Rutherford J 2007: New Labour, the welfare state, and the end of welfare Soundings Journal, Issue 36: Politics and Markets

SCOTT-SAMUEL A, BAMBRA C, COLLINS C, HUNTER D J, McCARTNEY G and SMITH K 2014: The impact of Thatcherism on health and well-being in Britain. International Journal of Health Services, 44, 1, 53-71

Shakespeare T, Watson N and Abu Alghaib O 2016: Blaming the victim all over again: Waddell and Aylward’s biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability. Critical Social Policy, 37, 1, 22-41.

Sivier M 2013: Unum, Atos, the DWP and the WCA; who gets the blame for the biopsychosocial saga? Vox Political 18th January.

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Stewart M 2011: Welfare Reform ~ Redress for the Disabled http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html#WRES

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Stewart M 2017: Welfare reform is killing people, but the Tory press don’t want you to know. http://www.welfareweekly.com/welfare-reform-is-killing-people-but-the-torypress-doesnt-want-you-to-know/

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Waddell G and Aylward M 2010: Models of Sickness and Disability applied to Common Health Problems. The Royal Society of Medicine.

Wales Online 2004: Tending a family crisis. http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/tending-a-family-crisis-2429599 Wikeley N 1995: Social Security (Incapacity for Work) Act 1994 The Modern Law Review 58, 4, 523-533

Mo Stewart February 2017

© 2017 Mo Stewart

The Human Cost Of Austerity


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What is the Human Cost of Austerity?

Well for most working people it not affected them yet, they actually have been least hit, unless you’re on low pay poverty wages .The pensioners are ‘untouchable’ as far as political ideology is concerned,but for some of the most vulnerable groups they have been affected the most and they are ones least likely to be able to take the hit of both financial and personally as they have least means for survival. the last 6yrs has seen sick & disabled people penalised the most, resulting in fatalities that should shock anyone with a ounce of humanity in their souls.

Why has this been allowed to happen I hear people cry, well I will tell you why …because you allowed it to happen by not standing up for a fair society for all!

A colleague Kitty Jones summed up this in one of her thought provoking quotes Read more here ..  https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/

Neoliberalism is based on competitive individualism. In such a competitive system it’s inevitable that there will be a few “winners” and many “losers”. That’s what “competition” means. It means no rewards for most people – inequality and poverty for the 99%. It’s not possible to “work hard” to change this. It’s built into the very system. Therefore it’s hardly fair or appropriate for a government to blame and punish people for the failings of their own imposed dominant ideology – a political and economic mode of organisation – which most ordinary people did not intentionally choose.

 

The fact is this Government blames anyone and everyone but themselves and they spout on about ‘people taking responsibility’ which is all well and good in ideal world but the one we live in now is a far more dark and frightening space. It uses behavioural conditioning to pit one section of society against the other  in a global hunger games like experiment you would see in an apocalyptic movie, but its not a movie , for many it a reality of daily struggle in some mind bending experiment of your nightmares.

Again Kitty Jones points this out well

The Tory mindset is very disciplinarian. In their view, everyone else needs “corrective treatment” to ensure that society is shaped and ruled the way they think it ought to be. The government believes that rather than addressing social problems – many of which are created and perpetuated by their own policies, such as growing inequality and absolute poverty – can be addressed by “incentivising” people to “behave” differently. In other words, they believe that people can be punished out of poverty, being ill, being out of work, and being less “competitive”, cost effective citizens, letting down the conservative’s constructed, overarching neoliberal state.

The government is conducting behavioural experiments on the public without their consent, to fulfil the needs of government, rather than the needs of the public. This turns democracy totally on its head. Citizens are being coerced to act as the government deems necessary to fulfil conservative notions of cost reduction and “efficiency” – such as their notion of a low tax, low welfare society. “Living within our means” means austerity for the poorest, tax cuts for the rich => growing inequality and poverty.

The government mindset: “Psychology as a behaviorist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is … prediction and control.” From – https://gcs.civilservice.gov.uk/…/GCSBehaviourChangeGuideJu…

And: “Behaviour change is one of the primary functions of government communications – helping change and save lives, helping the government run more effectively as well as save taxpayer’s money.

Our approach is to use a mix of awareness raising, persuasion, practical help and behavioural theory, to demonstrate why changes in behaviour are important and to make these changes easy for the public to adopt.”

Making changes “easy to adopt” sounds like choices are being offered, however, the use of “incentives” includes rigid, coercive measures such as welfare sanctions and savage cuts to public support and services.

A government that imposes policies on citizens using coercion is not “democratic.” It’s a government displaying some very worrying totalitarian tendencies.

 

 

As this governments ideology marches on towards it goal of dismantling the Welfare State,NHS social care and redefining chronic sickness & disability (as in to eradicate it ) ,and  child poverty at alarming rates, a government which stokes racial disharmony , and homelessness which will swamp streets in every part of the UK then we are heading for very troubled waters indeed . In April the two child policy comes in, further cuts to a variety of benefits that people receive and the process of getting them made almost impossible to get, and enforced treatment of some claimants to make them fit for work with a very dangerous Health & Work programme  later this year,  will cause preventable harm to many and most likely more deaths that go hand in hand with Mental Health issues, poverty,malnutrition etc that we can barely see the apocalypse coming as so many are blinded by their own survival and greed.

 

What sort of legacy are we leaving our children and future generations? One where human life is deemed worthless and disposable, christ we only need to look at what damage we do to the planet we live on and the destruction that is causing to see this a road of no return.

Unless we wake up, Mad Max will become a reality and those left behind will not have the coping strategies to cope and the knowledge of their forefathers will be lost forever.

They say history repeats itself, well yes it does, because we still haven’t learned to value what’s precious and not repeat past horrors like both wars where humans are brutalised and then become emotionally disconnected because it is too painful to see or feel. This has to change if we are to make a real difference and that change can start with ourselves and join together to unite against what is wrong.

People think they do not have power to change things so become accepting but collectively we do have power  and thats what scares governments the most. It is time to wake from your slumber and rise up like lions to defend life and create a better world for all.

It is  time to put our differences aside and work together as a collective to achieve changes we wish to happen!

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.

 

 

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