Aspergers, Severe Depression and in the Support Group; But Still DWP Apply the Pressure

Kate Belgrave over on her blog describes the case of ‘Sean’, a man whose mental health problems – aspergers and severe depression – are so severe that even ATOS has recognised he cannot work and placed him in the support group. Nevertheless, this gentleman, who finds it extremely difficult making telephone calls, let alone going out and meeting strangers, has received a letter from the DWP inviting him to attend meetings about getting him into work. ‘Invitation’ here isn’t quite the right work. As Kate herself notes, behind the reassuring words that it’s all voluntary, there’s a real threat. She writes:

Here is a letter received very recently from a DWP “work coach” by Sean* (name changed), a Northamptonshire man who I’ve known and written about for several years. He has Asperger’s and severe depression.

Sean finds day-to-day life very difficult to handle (he struggles to leave his house a lot of the time). He actually finds day-to-day life so challenging that even Atos agreed that he shouldn’t have to work. After a face-to-face assessment for his WCA about two years ago (I attended that assessment with him), Atos placed him in the support group for Employment and Support Allowance. As many of you will know, people in the ESA support group are neither required to work, nor to look for work. That’s the whole point of the support group. It’s an acknowledgement (a grudging one, I suspect) by the system as we have it that some people simply aren’t in a position take a job. From Benefits and Work: “the ESA support group is for claimants who the DWP consider to have such severe health problems that there is no current prospect of their being able to undertake work or work-related activities.” Once you’re in the support group, that should be the end of that, at least until your next assessment.

But here is this letter all the same. Disturbing reports of other people in the ESA support group getting letters like this, or calls to attend work-focused interviews, now abound. Sean received this letter out of nowhere and it scared the hell out of him. I imagine that scaring the hell out of him was at least in part the point of the exercise. The DWP doesn’t like people with mental health conditions to feel too secure.

She considers this new strategy to harass the disabled as Cameron tries to divert attention away from the embarrassing revelations of massive tax avoidance by the rich and members of the Conservative party. She sees this as part of the wider desire of the Tories to end disability benefit completely due to the utterly fallacious attitude that considers that absolutely anyone and everyone, no matter how ill, should be out working.

I have been thinking about all of this as Cameron has tried to divert us from stories about his tax-dodging mates with stories about people with drug problems who are on benefits. It’s all very interesting, you know. I have long believed that this government and others like it want to eliminate all disability benefits. They want people to believe that everyone can work and always work if they’re given enough of a shove. I think this government particularly wants everyone to believe that people with mental health problems are dragging the chain on purpose – that all anyone with a condition like severe depression needs is a nice cup of tea and a gentle (and then less gentle) kick in the pants to get going. The fact that someone with a severe mental health condition receives the sort of letter you see above tells you everything you need to know about the direction we’re travelling in. Atos was hired to ram home the entirely baseless theory that a lot of sick and disabled people on benefits were fit for work. The next stage will be about ramming home the entirely baseless theory that all sick and disabled people on benefits are fit for work.

This view of the aims of the Tories, and the true aims of the welfare-to-work industry, is confirmed by the fact that massive amounts of government funding have been paid to them to get people back to work, and not to support real needs the sick and disabled.

The article’s entitled Severe mental health condition in SG? Tough. We think you might be fit for work even if Atos didn’t. It’s at

And she’s absolutely right. Clearly, Sean and his wife, Maggie, are severely ill people, who should not be placed under this additional stress when even coping with what other people simply accept as part of normal, everyday life is extremely difficult for them. It shows how punitive and persecutory the Tory mentality truly is. Worse, it also shows how informed medical opinion, and even the decisions of ATOS, based as they are on pseudoscience and mummery, are casually dismissed when it interferes with a policy based on nothing but class prejudice and spite.

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One Response to “Aspergers, Severe Depression and in the Support Group; But Still DWP Apply the Pressure”

  1. A6er Says:

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

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