Posts Tagged ‘Univeral Jobmatch’

Welfare to Work Hits Sickness Benefits

February 10, 2014

I’ve just reblogged Mike’s post over at Vox Political on the government’s plan to set up a service to the long term sick off benefit and back into work. Mike found the plans on the BBC’s website yesterday. They were also announced on the Andrew Marr Show that morning. Marr did not, however, provide any details except that it would help employees and employers get back into work, and gave the statistic of the number of days lost due to sickness. In fairness, Marr did actually say that we had the lowest rate of long-term sickness in Europe.

In my comment to the piece I’ve already stated my opinion that it looks like the government is introducing a similar scheme to long-term sickness as they have with disability and unemployment. The emphasis will be getting people back into work, regardless of whether they are fit or well, and the possible effects to their long term health. It’s supposed to be voluntary at the moment, but as the commenter’s on Mike’s blog have pointed out, this was also how Universal Jobmatch was introduced, and now it’s very compulsory if you sign on benefit. I also have absolutely no doubt that legislation will also be introduced to deprive the sick of benefit if they don’t follow the back-to-work regime offered by this private company.

And I also have very severe reservations about the competence of whichever company they choose to run this service. Atos’ questionnaire for assessing whether someone is well enough to return to work is, quite frankly, so unscientific that it my view it constitutes medical fraud. The doctors and other medical professionals that administer it are merely window-dressing. They are not required to use their own, personal medical knowledge or initiative to declare whether or not you are fit. The assessment could be carried out by an ordinary civil servant with exactly the same results. Moreover, Atos and its employees have repeatedly shown themselves to be mendacious. They have lied and lied again to meet the government’s targets for people thrown off benefits. What are the odds that this new crew will be any different? Any takers?

One of the best comments on the situation comes from Florence, who has posted this on Mike’s piece:

What about the existing “pilot” scheme that is compulsory for those claiming sickness benefits? SOund just like what they are supposed to be promoting on this “service” to the disabled and chronically ill.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pilot-schemes-to-help-people-on-sickness-benefits-back-to-work

The official site says:-

“People on sickness benefits will be required to have regular meetings with healthcare professionals to help them address their barriers to work – or face losing their benefits……….(they) will have regular appointments with healthcare professionals as a condition of receiving their benefit, to focus on helping them move closer to being able to get a job!

So there is a choice, – attend or starve? So no choice, then? It continues:-

“The regular discussions with healthcare professionals – which will be provided by Ingeus UK – will not replace someone’s GP, but can promote health support and help a claimant to re-engage with their GP if they are struggling to adapt to their condition. They will also signpost claimants to activities and information to help them manage their condition to improve their readiness for getting a job, and work with local services to provide a holistic approach to health interventions.”

So what will be the “help” to “adapt”?

Experience says it will be a form of crude behavioural abuse, sorry, help called CBT. We all know how the Nudge Unit has worked before in ignoring all professional standards about coercion to participate. CBT has been proven (in published MEDICAL papers) to be worse than useless for people with long-term illnesses such as arthritis, and especially fibromyalgia and other chronic immune system problems with associated fatigue, and depression. The main study showed that for the first few weeks of CBT all seemed much better in treated group but 10 months later the untreated group – who had been left to manage their own illness – were in fact much better, more able to cope with pain, and more had achieved better mental & physical functioning.

The most telling remark came from someone who had been referred for CBT for fibromyalgia (aka complex regional pain syndrome). She said that it was tantamount to physical and mental torture, and in the end she agreed to everything that she was expected to, including doing exercise programmes that were causing extreme pain & distress, just so they would sigh her off from the programme. After, she needed treatment for depression.

Crude abuse seems the right description. The government seems to have outsourced motivating the long-term unemployed back into work to various forms, which now ring them up at home to harass them, demanding to know why they have not found work. One of my friends has been subjected to this, and when he asked them what they were doing, the person at the other end of the line claimed that they were ‘motivating him’. No, it’s not motivation. It’s simple abuse. But it’s in line with a government that has no solutions except to blame and persecute the poor and the sick.

Advertisements