CW evidence to Harrington

Dear Professor Harrington

CarerWatch is a campaign group representing unpaid family carers. We are a web based group with many members who are sick, disabled, or carers, and we network widely. You can learn all about us –

here http://carerwatch.com/

and here – https://carerwatch.wordpress.com/

and here – http://carerwatchdotcom.myfineforum.org/

As you can see, we ran two General Election campaigns with good cross party support.

Our current campaign at –

http://carerwatch.com/emergency/

is receiving very wide support from many organizations and individuals including RADAR and CarersUK.

 Please read the testimony posted by our members at – http://carerwatch.com/testimonies/

We have been consulting fully on our site about ESA for over a year now and you are welcome to see all our discussions.

ESA is causing great distress to our members and we are very glad you are undertaking enquiry. This is our representation to your enquiry.

We have posts by members with the widest range of disabilities and no two are the same. So it is remarkable that they all say the same thing and we feel that this should be acknowledged.

They all fear stress. They all say stress makes their symptoms worse. And they all fear the coercion in the work-related activity group.  They think that if they show willing in any way to ‘have a go’ it will inevitably lead to pressure to do more hours and then to go on to JSA. So because the work-related activity group is coercive it will not keep them well and it will not motivate them. It is not a safe or productive place for them.

So we feel that because the structure of the groups is not right the test is being asked to make an unrealistic and artificial allocation and that is why it isn’t working.

 There is especially a great deal of concern about the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and we will discuss the details of this test with you at length. The second part of the representation will concern the ESA itself, and the distribution of claimants into the work-related activity group and the support group following the WCA.
 

The most worrying aspect of the WCA, and consequent distribution between the ESA groups, is that the ‘health professionals’ who conduct these assessments are not necessarily medically qualified as doctors, but could include a number of professionals with nursing qualifications. The Incapacity Benefit caseload who will all have to undergo WCA, includes a number of people who are severely ill or disabled. These disabilities may well be hidden, ranging from those diagnosed with cancer to sufferers of ME and specific mental health problems. Such people may experience different symptoms from day-to-day, and on a case-by-case basis. These people cannot be deemed fit for work by anyone except their own doctors and consultants, or another expert in their particular illness.

 This expertise is missing from the WCA, which has led to well-reported cases of seriously and terminally ill people being found fit to work. Further, 40% of appeals against WCA decisions are upheld, rising to 70% when the claimant has representation. A House of Lords debate earlier this year noted that “Between April 2009 and March 2010, the ESA appeal numbers quadrupled. Between April and June 2009, there were 10,100 appeals; between July and September 2009, the number had risen to 29,000, and by March of this year there were 46,500 appeals, which is 126,800 appeals in one year. That represents more than 37 per cent of all appeals for all benefits, and nearly double that of attendance and disability allowance appeals. Equally worrying is the fact that 40 per cent of appeals that went to hearing were successful, with many thousands more successfully dealt with without the need for a hearing.”

 That such a high proportion of appeals is successful is not only a worrying indicator that the WCA  as not fit for purpose, but also that the seriously ill, or less articulate and forthright, who are less likely to appeal, may have genuine cases that are not brought to appeal. Further, people who are not able to call on representation have their chances of success at appeal almost halved, suggesting grave problems for poorer claimants.

 Before expanding on problems with the WCA, there are issues that must be considered regarding the “approved” healthcare professionals conducting the WCA and the conditions faced by the claimant, including:

 i)                    lack of provision for audio recording of the assessment by the ESA claimant

ii)                   lack of specific public information on the medical knowledge that approved healthcare professionals will need to demonstrate. It is nearly impossible for any doctor or nurse to be au fait with all possible medical conditions, whilst good knowledge of mental health problems would require qualifications in that field, meaning that some healthcare professionals would be unsuitable to conduct a WCA for certain people with rare and complex disorders.

iii)                 lack of publication of the criteria by which healthcare professionals will be assessed other than medical knowledge (practical training, appraisal of casework).

iv)                 lack of requirement for healthcare professionals to demonstrate understanding of the effects of disability and illness when seeking approval (Chapter 42 of DMG:pages 4-6)

v)                  lack of exemptions for claimants with chronic disability and illness, or mental health problems, when supported by medical evidence.

 Specific weaknesses in the WCA include:

 a) The insistence (Chapter 42 of DMG: page 12) that “No customer will be found not to have limited capability for work without either having a medical examination or having been offered one.” One interpretation is that no persons will be declared fit for work without “proof”. However, the sentence also suggests that all cases. However serious or progressive the illness, will be assessed, regardless of documentary evidence. This suggests that expert evidence from the relevant medical professionals will be discounted during the questionnaire stage.

b)      lack of information on what the medical assessment will entail.

c)      lack of clarity regarding the consideration of written medical evidence from GPs, hospital consultants and other medical professionals during the medical assessment.

d)      the scheduling of the work-focused health-related assessment on the same day as the medical assessment, without consideration for conditions causing fatigue

e)      lack of clarity regarding the scoring system for the work-focused health –related assessment. Various activities have descriptor “marks” up to 15. To be considered to have limited work capability requires the claimant to have one 15 point disability, or a range totaling above 15 points. The DMG does not provide the justification or reasoning for the assignation of scores to specific disabilities. Thus a number of issues with no direct comparison, either medically or in terms of work, are arbitrarily awarded the same score.

f)        this scoring scheme seems weighted against claimants with various mental health problems in that the descriptors of limited  work capability focus on the physical ability to accomplish a given task. The tick-box assessment could thus overlook serious mental health problems.

g)       the further scoring scheme to prove limited capability for work-related activity is redundant as all these disabilities would be flagged up in written medical evidence.

 Another worry is the status of those waiting for the result of their appeal, as there exists a notable lack of clarity on this issue. As 70% of appeals made with representation are successful, this is especially worrying, with the possibility of people being wrongly assessed and then placed on an interim benefit whilst awaiting appeal.

The above problems with the WCA raises the issue of the fitness-for-purpose of the ESA Work-Related Activity Group (conditional) and Support Group (unconditional). Given the list of problems mentioned above, the assumption that claimants have been distributed to the right groups seems tenuous.

The ESA system itself seems confused on this point, as claimants who are distributed to the Support Group have been sent ATOS forms following this decision, beginning the process anew. There are documented cases of a Support Group claimants being automatically re-assessed, and being wrongly moved to the WRAG as a result. This would seem to be a hidden conditionality in what is ostensibly an unconditional benefit.

Reviewing claimants in the Support Group is unhelpful to the claimant due to the stress caused, but is also a waste of resources and time for the claimant and the taxpayer. Most people distributed to the Support Group will have clearly defined medical conditions that will not improve and, in many cases, are likely to progress. As such, reviews are unnecessary bureaucratic procedures.

 The work-related activity group  in particular seems spectacularly unfit for purpose, as the group is dependent on work-related activity being available for its members. Given that these claimants will have limited capability for work, it seems unlikely that potential employers will be convinced by their capability. Thus the conditionality imposed in this case is not suitable, especially for those with variable conditions. That is, the misapplication of financial penalties is a likely but very unfair outcome for those whose symptoms change markedly in severity over a period of weeks and months.

This combination of problems seems to raise objections to the very concept of conditionality in this benefit.

 The work-related activity group also covers too narrow a criteria, with many former IB claimants being found fit to work and thus denied the support that they need. Most IB claimants will have a real illness or disability, even if the WCA “proves” that they are capable of work. Shifting such people onto JSA, alongside healthy JSA claimants, is deeply unfair, given that employers will choose the healthy worker over the ill or disabled. In this case, a person deemed fit to work by the WCA will become trapped by the conditionality of the JSA, and at the same time be denied access to the employment support promised by the ESA.

The final argument is that the assessment process is stressful, and those experiencing this stress are, necessarily, in a poor state of health. Between last October and December, 22,618 people consulted Citizens Advice offices about ESA, the vast majority of them with concerns about the work capability assessment. There is also a large backlog of appeals against work capability assessment decisions. A stressful process will risk aggravating underlying health conditions, and especially so for a number of mental health conditions. The stress exacerbated by the appeal process and by the financial penalties for not complying with work-related activity requirements.

As an example of the fear and stress caused by ESA we would like to cite the case of Trickle who posts on our site about his condition as follows –
You can use as many sticks as you want but until you remove discrimination from the employer I’m not going to have any hope – and I only have a physical condition. At the moment the sticks are all aimed at the wrong people – where are the sticks for those who are expected to employ us. Until we balance this properly nothing wll happen.

I am 27 – I finished working when I was 24 – I certainly haven’t given up, I’ve tried retraining a number of times – and it has always failed as what is required is always more than my body can handle.

At present I’m stuck in bed – possibly for longer than two weeks. I can still type (though i have to be careful about how much I do this) I could do any ammount of paper work at home utilising email and voice/type software – in fact I am about to dissect information for personal budgets to be given to service users. I’m doing this for free to try to enable other people to use personal budgets with confidence. I’m in a good position to do this, I have a physical disability, I’ve suffered chronic depression, I have family with varying levels of severe mental illness and I have worked with adults with learning disabilities. I have some experience of disabled children and their parents. I also have dyslexia. All this means I am quite disability aware – and I can use this knowledge to make the information as accessible as possible. I’m quite valued (though not in monetary terms) for this – but there is no money to employ me.

I’m just never going to be as productive as an able bodied person – and I’m always going to have weeks at a time where I cannot leave my home. I’m always going to get so fatigued I can’t think and must sleep – from sitting for too long.

I’ve a horrible feeling that it is the whole system thaty would have to change to accomodate someone like me. An allowance that the money made from me as a productive unit will always be less. That is a lot to ask of an employer – to expect to get less in return than they would usually expect – I think it may be a step too far in all honesty. However if it is a step to far for our present economy – how do you justify placing any sanctions on me as a round peg cannot fit into a square hole no matter how many times you whack it.

It seems to us that Trickle is always going to need a safe place to operate from so that he can face these challenges. This means a safe place where he will not be threatened with conditionality and sanctions.

He needs to be able to access all the back to work help in a voluntary way without fear of being moved up the ladder and ending up on JSA or being asked to do more than he feels able to face.

Carer Watch do not consider that conditionality and sanctions should be applied to people with enduring illness or disability. Carer Watch believe that every one no matter how severe the disability should be able to access full back to work help when they want it.  However, people with enduring disability already face daily battles with their  illness / disability and the  difficulties of the competitive job market and that is enough pressure.  They should be able to make their own decisions, freely without sanctions, as to how they deal with these challenges.

So unless the ‘support’ group is adapted to be a safe place for all people with severe and enduring illness/disability where they are entitles to remain and receive back to work help freely without sanctions – there is no safe place for these people to go.

So sadly changing the test will not help.

We feel the test is being asked to make an unrealistic and artificial allocation and that is why it isn’t working.

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21 Responses to “CW evidence to Harrington”

  1. Carer Watch.com / ESA Campaign Says:

    […] a draft of the evidence CarerWatch are submitting to […]

  2. maddy bernard Says:

    I am increasingly concerned about the changes to sickness benefits that entail reassessments of all claimants, as this will cause untold harm and stress to the long-term sick and disabled and their carers. Just coping with a disability is a full time job, they need more help not cruel and heartless stress and pressure. I feel this is a cost-cutting device to put the most vulnerable people on a lower-benefit, in the guise of helping them back to work. Let those who want to return to work be helped, but those who cannot leave them alone, if you can’t help them more.
    I dread to think of the outcomes for many people, this will surely lead to many deaths and worsening of delicately balanced conditions, is this what the government want? Please re-think this cruel and punitive reform, before it’s too late.

  3. julia baggs Says:

    Good points made. I am the FMS sufferer whose medical assessment reported that I have a stoma, even though I don’t. I think my assessor is actually a doctor, but she comes from Eastern Europe and clearly did not fully understand me. I did for her everything that she asked, but told her I could do it only with discomfort on a first occasion and that if I were asked to do it repeatedly the discomfort would become pain and then agonising muscle spasm. None of this was mentioned in her report, neither was my fatigue or the depression which has plagued me since I was in my early 20s. I am now 47, and have worked at least part time most of my adult life. I feel deeply despondent and terribly worried for the future. I await my ESA appeal with dread.

  4. carerwatch Says:

    Come and help us campaign.
    We are discussing the evidence to Harrington on

    http://carerwatchdotcom.myfineforum.org/about1073.html

  5. rachelcreative Says:

    An excellent response.

    I have to carefully manage my condition and the most basic of tasks (including limited self care) to keep myself on what is a relatively low level of function and ability. I can only do so with a lot of help from my husband.

    For an assessment to base my ability on that hour, which is just a snapshot, and disregard specialist medical knowledge or the wider picture of how my condition effects me day to day is reckless and unfair.

    Just because I can present as seemingly “ok” for an hour to someone without indepth knowledge of my condition doesn’t mean I could work for several hours, let alone get up, get dressed and get to work – and do so several times a week. The cumulative effect of this on my condition would almost certainly send me spiralling back to being practically bedridden.

    They also won’t see the after effects that attending such an assessment will have on my condition – it really doesn’t represent ability or not. If they would recognise what my doctor has to say, who does have a broad knowledge of my condition and it’s impact this would give a far more accurate picture of ability and function.

    So yes an excellent response and thank you.

  6. Peter Austin Says:

    What an excellent report to professor Harrington.

    I suffer from ankylosing spondylitis(AS) which was diagnosed 6 years after I first began suffering the painful symptoms.I was diagnosed in 1994 after being sent to A and E with a severe eye infection which turned out to be iritis,a painful inflammtory condition of the eye which 20 per cent of A S sufferers contract.ten years ago,I was also diagnosed with crohns disease,(Inflammory disease of the bowel) which is also associated with ankylosing spondylitis sufferers.
    Add to that,Osteopena(precursor to osteoporosis),porous bone scar tissue fusing my spine from waist to base of skull causing a severe stoop.
    Plus bouts of depression.

    I helped elect this present govt,at least the con part of it.
    CONned i feel!
    I voted on the promise of “we`ll protect the weak and vulnerable during these cuts and make sure that they don`t have to live in poverty”.
    As soon as they got into govt and had an emegency budget,it changed.
    “we we cut DLA claimants by 20% when we introduce a new tougher test in 2013 for new and EXISTING claimants and we will get at least on off incapacity benefit and looking for work rather than “languishing” on benefits.

    The WCA is totally unfair,the new tougher one proposed is even more unfair.
    Sick and disabled people shouldn`t have to go through an examination and questions by people who are probably unqualified in the complexities of numerous debilitating diseases/conditions.
    Far fairer to ask their gps and specialists to write reports(which they do on appeal anyway!) for the dwp to base their decisions on.
    Retesting lifetime awarded DLA claimants is totally unfair and a lifetime away from “we`ll look after the vulnerable!”.
    Everyone on the planet is only a disease or an accident away from severe disablity,something that the “healthy rich ministers ought to remeber,especially Cameron,who had a disabled son,who sadly died.
    If the govt want a fair society,scrap these unfair tests now!

    • Andrew Brown Says:

      I agree and of course when a very wealthy person of independent means, like Mr. Cameron or Osborne, falls to disability, they dont need to be concerned about money. Their perceptions of disability are not those of someone who cannot work, or get (or cope with) employment at all.
      But these politicians cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance. They have all seen painfully difficult benefits related problems in their surgeries and postbag.
      They all know

  7. Peter Austin Says:

    that should have read that i was diagnosed in 1984 NOT 1994!

  8. Andrew Brown Says:

    very good response. I beleive that these are dangerous times for welfare proviusion. Back in 1980s I can recall the Supplementary Benefit system, that set a basic rate and had health and heating related additional payments, grants and the like. That was scrapped. In those ‘golden’ days jobseekers had to merely show that they were available for work and were not subjected to ensless harrassment from the Jobcentre. There were many community programme opportunities for the unemployed. Its all gone, and now the safety net for the most unemployable of groups (in practice) is being corrupted by the present Conservative Government. Have the Tories near welfare and you get a step nearer to Victorian England. Bit by bit they dismantle it, and prime up daily mail, Sun, express and telegraph headlines to mobilise what sometimes seems almost genetic resentment and indignation that is part of being British I thoroughly approve of welfare reform as a concept but would never agreee to anythinbg that endangers the health and solvency of those who by virtue of
    their condition are not able to obtain or sustain employment.
    I know about ATOS and we had a superb battle last year that their Customer Services will never forget. They are provinding a service to their customer (the DWP) and they are delivering the DWP’s policy objective of reducing the claimant count. They use all sorts of mechanisms in mental health cases, woe betide the mentally unwell claimant who struggles to the medical alone, or by public transport.. according to the training manuals it suggests ‘good social functioning’ and of course telling the doctor that you watch TV will provoke conclusions that you have good concentration and on and on.. These are NOT mental health professionals . They do not employ Community Psychiatric Nurses, only nurses, physios and doctors and yet a enormous part of the caseload is ewntirely mental health or combined mental and physical health related.
    The process is further corrupted by Government use of carefully selected expert evidence (i.e that research material that supports their policy) that says work is almost always good for people, which of course ignored the enormous problem of stess related workplace illness and absence, such that one sees in most industries and epidemic in some.

    Danny Alexander, now a deficit axeman at the Treasuery was on a BBC programme just before the election expressing his concern about ATOS’s medical assessments. CAB have concluded in their report that the WCA is not fit for purpose, and during the BBC programme an example was given of a jobcentre worker early retired on health grounds after an ATOS occupational health assessment, and yet claiming ESA a few weeks later was found fit for work by ATOS (no change in her condition)
    This shows ATOS can and do calibrate their clinical fact finding and functional findings, according to the objectives of the customer. Their recruitment page invites doctors and nurses to apply for benefits assessment work and have a better life, with images of smiling faces, and yet what is happening up and down assessment centres every day is that numerous people are being assessed by an unfair method, driven by policy objectives, and made poorer and stressed.

    It needs to be changed, are we a civilised society or not ??

  9. Alan Wheatley, Green Party of England & Wales Spokesperson on Disability and Social Care Services Says:

    The Green Party of England & Wales opposes ‘conditionality’ as outlined in the Welfare Reform Act 2009, even as it applies to those fit for paid work. What I write below is actually written in a personal rather than a Green Party capacity.

    I am a survivor of a Work Capability Assessment myself, and was put into the Support Group. The Atos ‘doctor’ Ratnam Ramayana seems to have had a very different view of what happened at my WCA and of what I said than I did. I would say that none of the physical testing declared in the report on me took place. Further, whereas I reported that I had been a disabled jobseeker on JSA and its predecessor ‘unemployment benefit’ for more than 25 years since leaving five years seamless but unfulfilling salaried service in 1977, the ‘Examining Medical Practitioner’ insinuated an unhindered career progression when he wrote that my last waged employment was four years previously as a social care worker to adults with learning disabilities and I had left on mental health grounds.

    (I had also told him that that 11 months as a support worker was undertaken on a part-time cover basis while completing fortnightly part-time earnings forms and claiming Jobseekers Allowance — not that JSA paid me on time. They frequently kept me waiting several months for top-up, in which period they told the council I was no longer entitled to housing benefit and housing and council tax benefit. Understandably, my physical condition at the time of that waged work was made worse by all the stress.)

    But returning to the matter of the ESA and my Work Capability Assessment, I was stunned into shock and denial and near-suicidal rage at the decision of that man who I would have thought had signed a pledge of ‘doing no harm’ to another human being. I seriously did contemplate suicide, as my efforts toward self-improvement since the days [1972-1977] would lead to worse punishment than then work colleagues verbally bullied me daily with observations that I was just like ‘Frank Spencer’ of the TV sitcom ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em’. I have been a working life long volunteer on a pittance, and bitterly resented my being sentenced to attend New Deal at A4e in 2008 with that company getting paid a milestone payment for the CV that I had produced before entering their doors. I am not an object to be commoditised in a new slave trade!

    Fortunately for me, I had built a network of friendly support through campaigning on disability matters and also my voluntary role as an ICT coach to slower learning adults. So I knew that my life had ultimately more meaning than the authors of the Welfare Reform Act and all their hangers on could ever dream of accomplishing in their own lives.

    I was also fortified by the words of the mother of a 1983-born autistic daughter: “We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

    I got much better help at the tribunal stage from the legal adviser with Disability in Camden and my own research as a subscriber to the Benefits & Work Publishing website than I did initially from a mental health charity’s vocational support adviser. At the tribunal stage, we changed the emphasis of my application so as to focus on my underlying learning difficulty situation rather than the physical symptoms that arise when I am forced into too stressful work conditions.

    So at the tribunal hearing my points rating went from 0 [Atos/DWP assessment] to 21, mainly on account of the length of time it takes me to ‘execute tasks’ and learn new things. I was even put into the Support Group on account of communication difficulties; I believe the evidence for the latter was to do with my form phobia and how the acute embarrassment over my working speed had led to confusion in the grounds for my original written application for ESA.

    Incidentally, my own doctor would not have been as helpful in my ESA application and appeal as, say, ex-employers and people I had worked or studied voluntarily alongside, or the DWP’s own Occupational Psychologist in 1999 who actually tested my functional skills for office work. My own doctor did not even have in her records the assessment for ‘mild cerebral palsy with some oedema’ that a Kidderminster paediatrician delivered in 1960, when I was six-and-a-half years old. (That had later been interpreted on my JobCentre Plus data as ‘cerebral parsley’!) Yet my own doctor had me fill in a referral form for diagnostic assessment in August 2009 — upon my own request — for a proper diagnosis of my learning difficulty that I believe to be more along the lines of dyspraxia. That referral form to Camden Learning Disability Services was signed on 7 August 2009, and they have always been reportedly too busy since to contact me for assessment!!!

    ATOS STAFF FAILED DUTY OF CARE

    I consider what happened to me in my ESA Work Capability Assessment as a crime in the corporate neglect category. Social workers are frequently ‘hauled over the coals’ for such offences, but I have never heard of, say, an Atos doctor facing a General Medical Council hearing on grounds of questions regarding their ‘fitness to practice’. My tribunal adviser told me this February that he had supported 20 people through their ESA tribunals and only lost one case. That suggests to me that some Atos ‘doctors’ should not go through life with impunity to wreck the lives of others in the ways that they surely have done. And awarding them the contract to deliver a new, more exclusive Disability Living Allowance test assessment might be okay for a Nazi government but not a democratically elected UK Government that talks of compassion and protecting the most vulnerable.

    DWP/JCP ALSO NEGLIGENT

    Yet I also regard many of the practices of the DWP to be inhuman and supportive to such abuses. I left a period of ‘vocational assessment’ at a Manpower Services Commission-run ‘Employment Rehabilitation Centre’ in 1978. The assessment report was deemed ‘too confidential’ for me to ever have unsupervised access to. That report actually said that slow working speed severely hindered my employment prospects. Yet I was never allowed unsupervised access to that report, and could only examine it at a Jobcentre in the presence of a [then] ‘Disablement Resettlement Officer’ or their assistant.

    Twenty-one years later, freedom of information legislation did not seem to have impacted upon JobCentre Plus regarding my progress on a ‘Work Preparation Programme’ at Hendon College. With a review meeting coming up, I asked my Disability Employment Adviser for a copy of the Action Plan that my review would be benchmarked against. “It’s not standard jobcentre practice for you to have a copy of that,” she told me. “It is confidential between the Jobcentre and the service provider. You can see a copy in my presence and take your own notes, but you cannot have a copy for your own records.”

    Finally, I note that for all the successive governments’ submissions about the value of ‘conditionality’ in changing claimant behaviour and ensuring that no-one is written off, they miss some fundamental points. They never acknowledge that their own failures in increasing disability access gives rise to considerable barriers against people who self-declare as disabled in terms of the Disability Discrimination Act entering waged employment. Where are the figures for numbers of JSA claimants who self-declare as disabled?

    I believe this is particularly relevant in the case of people with autistic conditions or mental health problems in the process of competitive formal applications for waged employment, that are fraught with more anxiety than in less competitive volunteering. According to Department of Health figures, 1 in 100 of the adult population has some sort of autistic spectrum condition, and the empirical implications of that figure seem to have left the DWP, Dept of Education, etc unabashed — like with the UN Declaration on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2007 that New Labour signed up to.

    Finally, I note that in the new ‘consultation document’, there is never any acknowledgement that — just as the NHS owes a huge debt to unpaid family carers, the voluntary sector is indebted to the existence of volunteers, many of whom are benefit claimants. I deeply resent the implication in the term ‘welfare dependent/welfare dependency’ that I am — as Nazis said of disabled people — a ‘useless eater’. I believe that government that trumpets ‘welfare dependent/welfare dependency’ ought to examine how culpable it has been in not supporting people to become lifelong learners and accomplishers.

    “Judge not, lest ye yourself be judged,” Jesus said. Or, as an Amerindian saying goes, “Before judging another, walk a mile in their moccasins.”

    • Alan Wheatley, Green Party of England & Wales Spokesperson on Disability and Social Care Services Says:

      One of the above paragraphs should actually read:

      I was also fortified by the words of the mother of a 1993 [not 1983]-born autistic daughter: “We have a responsibility to those who follow us.”

      I also add that if Government really wants to promote public spiritedness among benefit claimants, government should gather, record, issue and publish data on numbers of benefit claimants who volunteer in the community. I know that there are several [other] out-of-waged-work benefit claimants who also volunteer, but getting statistical data of that phenomenon seems extremely difficult.

  10. Barbara Robinson Says:

    This is a good report to Harrington.
    I too have submitted and am willing to provide a copy ofmy submission.
    I have details of analysis of pathways to Work from University of York which is interesting!
    Selected from PPT Presentation;

    Pathways to Work
    Introduction, Analysis, and (tentative) ‘Explanation’
    Jon Minton, University of York

    Sickness, Invalidity, Incapacity, Disability & Carer benefits only take up a
    small proportion of total Social Security spending
    Mostly Retirement & Widows’ Benefits: Do the tabloids complain about
    “pensioners leeching off the state”?!
    ……………………………………
    Pathways to Work, even if its claims are true, would only increase the numbers
    of people in employment by about 100th of the amount necessary to reach the
    target (around 17,000 extra employed out of about 1.7 million)
    ………………………………………………………………………
    This would be at great administrative and social cost, imposing unnecessary
    stress and burden on almost three million people.
    ………………………………………………………………….
    What’s the real aim?
    Welfare Reform Bill (2006)
    The Freud Report
    80% working age employment rate (aka “Fiscal Prize”)

    At no time, in the last thirty years, has the UK ever come close to 80%
    working age employment
    ………………………………………………………………………………………..
    “All previous evidence suggests that it is unlikely that Pathways will be as
    acceptable or effective with the existing stock, particularly those who are
    aged > 50 years and/or have been on benefits for more than 1-2 years”
    Waddell, G & Aylward, M (2005): The Scientific and Conceptual Basis of
    Incapacity Benefits London TSO

    See http://www.leeds.ac.uk/disability-
    studies/archiveuk/ravetz/GP%20critique%20summary.pdf for an interesting (and
    polemical) critique
    ……………………………………………………………………………………
    Assume a 10% increase (generous)
    1/10
    Affecting one-eighth of the IB claimants
    1/8
    Of which (maybe) half go into employment
    1/2
    Multiply the denominators:
    1 / (10 x 8 x 2) = 1 / 160
    One person in 160 now in employment thanks to Pathways to Work who would not
    have been otherwise (perhaps…)
    ………………………………………………………………………………………

    After 12 Months (according to the DWP’s own data) most of the effect
    vanishes..
    ……………………………………………………………………….
    BUT- Government Spin……………….?

    Radical new pilots out-perform the rest of the country to get people on
    Incapacity Benefit off benefits and into work

    Thousands of people have been helped off benefit and into work by radical new
    measures, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Alan Johnson announced
    today.
    Mr Johnson said we are already seeing improvements in recorded job entries for
    people on Incapacity Benefit nationally but in Pathways to Work areas, this
    success rate is double.
    More people in the pilot areas move off Incapacity Benefit to return to the
    labour market than in the rest of the country, according to these early
    indications.
    In Pathways to Work areas, new claimants attend compulsory work-focused
    interviews with Personal Advisors, can access NHS rehabilitation support and
    are eligible for a £40-a-week return to work credit.
    In the pilot areas six times as many people claiming Incapacity Benefit have
    taken up support from the New Deal or other rehabilitation programmes, which
    will give them the skills and confidence to move into work.
    Pathways to Work is proving so successful that people already on IB in the
    pilot areas who don’t automatically benefit from the new support package are
    volunteering to go through the programme.
    Welcoming the news of an encouraging start, Alan Johnson said:
    “Nine of ten people coming onto Incapacity Benefit told us they wanted to work
    and this programme provides them with the support to achieve their aims.
    “These results are extremely encouraging, and show that Pathways to Work is
    already making a real difference by breaking down barriers to work and getting
    people into jobs.”

    DWP Press release, 11 October 2004
    …………………………………………………………….

    IB Rates are not exceptional by European standards
    Most Social Security payments are on Pensions, IB spending is small (and
    affordable)

    80% working age employment is historically unprecedented (and unrealistic?)
    The DWP adopts a ‘supply-side’ explanation for IB levels
    Pathways to Work is a key component of the Welfare Reform Bill
    IB is a form of hidden unemployment (demand-side)
    Sickness rose most amongst those from a manual rather than professional
    background

    The DWP uses less accurate ecological benefit data to present a qualitatively
    different picture

    The average population age is getting older
    For many people the main incentive to work is not financial
    There is another ‘unemployment reduction strategy’
    Sickness Benefits are not ‘cushy’
    Dorsett et al ‘Humped’ graphs…
    Dorsett email response
    Observations made by qualitative researchers about different aspects of
    Pathways to Work [ask me]
    Contracted IBPAs’ financial ‘incentive structure’

    ?????????
    “In the summer we will set out in detail in a Green Paper how we will
    radically change the benefit system so it reflects all that we have learnt
    about the needs of those on IB. Together – working with employers, GPs,
    special interest groups and claimants themselves – we can replace the sicknote
    culture with one of hope and opportunity.
    “Incapacity Benefit is out of date – our radical plans will sweep aside a
    system that branded people incapable and help claimants focus on what they can
    do, not what they can’t.”
    -Alan Johnson, 15 March 2005

    ………………………………………………………..
    Are IB and Worklessness Linked?
    McVicar 2006
    From Social Security Statistics

    DWP 2006
    From DWP Longitudinal Study
    …………………………………………………….
    Sickness Benefits are not “Cushy”
    UK and Rich Nations average Sickness insurance Replacement Rates( Graph)-UK
    significantly lower.

    Source: Slide 21, “Pathways to Work: Invitation to Tender Provider Event”
    http://www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk/JCP/stellent/groups/jcp/documents/websitecontent/dev_014155.ppt

    Campbell’s Law:
    “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-
    making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt
    it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to
    monitor”
    – Donald T. Campbell, 1974, “Assessing the Impact of Planned Social Change”.

  11. hairybiker Says:

    That made up word “Worklessness” tickles me every time I hear it or see it,what it really means is “unemployability” because employers do not want to employ sick and disabled people, some of whom are a couple of years away from retirement age.

  12. Carer Watch.com / Cuts Cuts Cuts Says:

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  14. Anon Says:

    Jobcentre Plus writing to contribution-based ESA claimants

    News item from Turn2us Are you claiming contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)? Are you in the Work-related Activity Group (WRAG)? If so, you may receive a letter from Jobcentre Plus in the next four weeks. This is to advise you that from April 2012, the amount of time that you can receive contribution-based ESA may be limited to 12 months.

    This change is not yet law as it forms part of the Welfare Reform Bill currently going through Parliament. However, as soon as it is introduced, people in the WRAG who have already received contribution-based ESA for 12 months or more will have their benefit stopped.

    Some disability campaigners and health charities have criticised the decision to send out these letters before the bill is passed and changes to these proposals may still occur. Jobcentre Plus state that they have decided to write to claimants to prepare them to this possible change, given their possible effect.

    People on ESA placed in the WRAG are expected to take part in work-focused interviews and are given support to prepare them for work in the future.

    Read the Department for Work and Pensions information statement (link opens in a new window)

    Read the Guardian news article (link opens in a new window)

    Find out more about Employment and Support Allowance – this includes details of proposed changes to ESA that are included in the Welfare Reform Bill.

    http://www.turn2us.org.uk/about_us/media_centre/news_archive/are_you_on_contribution-based.aspx?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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  19. JCP are useless Says:

    There is supposed to be help for unemployed people via the Jobcentre Plus Discount Travel Card. Yet, the Jobcentre Plus (JCP) staff refuse to 1) acknowledge the existence of the scheme and 2) claim that it is “discretionary” even though the guidelines clearly states the Personal Advisor “shall issue” the application form to all eligible applicants.
    What’s really going on here is that the funding rules for JCP have changed and they now receive one lump sum of money out of which everything is to be paid, and they do not want to issue these cards because the cost of them literally comes out of their pockets.
    They have either stated that the scheme does not exist, or outright refuse to give me one, without any explanation or reason, other than “it’s discretionary” which, it is not. Discretion must be conferred by some body or by some act and there is no discretion in this case. I have tried to explain this to the people in charge, but they just don’t listen. They don’t understand the procedure and refuse to identify what guidelines they are using, nor do they identify the source and scope of their purported “discretion” (because there IS none).
    I don’t understand what else to do, as they refuse to pay for travel expenses to interviews and keep asking me to travel to workshops every day at my expense, out of £72 per week.

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