DWP, Atos, Fraud, Job Seeking, and Chronically Sick and Disabled People

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There  are many who believe that people are choosing to live on benefits as an alternative to work. The vast majority of people want to work, some are desperate for a job, when there just aren’t enough jobs to go round. Then there are people who can’t work because of their chronic illness or disability. How must it feel to be called scroungers or shirkers on top of living with chronic illness and pain? People deserve to be treated with dignity. This excellent blog by Madd Suspicions entitled DWP, ATOS, Fraud, Job Seeking, and Chronically Sick and Disabled People makes this point. Think Left’s article Reframing the Welfare Debate  by Darrell Goodliffe shows how important it is to counteract the Coalition’s argument for benefit cuts before people are thrust into poverty.

DWP, ATOS, FRAUD JOB-SEEKING,

and CHRONICALLY SICK AND DISABLED PEOPLE

Reblogged from MADD Suspicions:

“I know, that is rather a long title, but I couldn’t think of any better for now.  Anyway, this is important, I believe. I know, that is rather a long title, but I couldn’t think of any better for now.  Anyway, this is important, I believe.”

There is still so much that the more priveleged among us need to understand, there is so much ignorance around, and misinformation and blatant lies to be honest around stemming from politicians and certain sections of the media , relating to benefits, job seeking, the chronically sick and disabled people, that I felt I had to write this post.I saw this posted earlier on Twitter by one of the “Dragons” from a programme here in Britain, called “Dragon’s Den.  I never watch it, because I’m not money orientated, I don’t have an obsession for it and never have believed that being happy and successful equals having lots of money.  However lots of entrepreneurs seem to be like that, i’m sure not all are, and some may do some good.  However lots are.  Anyway, this was the Tweet from one of the “dragons”, Deborah Meaden, which was retwittered by someone I followed (that’s how I saw it) :”

More people working means less spent on benefits. Stimulate economy and make sure it pays to work. 

When I first saw it, I didn’t know how to interpret it.  I don’t know anything of her politics, I don’t have anything whatsoever against her personally.  I do think however, that sometimes this sort of statement can feed into the “scrounger” rhetoric, prevalent in our “civilised society”.

On seeing something like that my first thoughts when knowing nothing about the person is that I want them to understand things, and try to speak about things from my own experiences.  Obviously I can’t speak from anyone elses experiences.  And I hope I came across when I twittered back as wishing to be matter of fact and polite.

I posted a link to this round-up about ATOS and the DWP, which I attempt to update as often as possible.  I also posted a link to this post I have also made, relating to how I pushed myself, as an entrepreneur on that programme may do without mental illness, only with mental illness attached.  And how that made my mental health worse.

I hope that she will take a look at those posts, at least.  And maybe she can understand, depending on her background of course, which again, I know nothing of.

I don’t know why I did it, as I know that posts like that will often draw out undesirable conservative ideologists with the “arbeit macht frei” financially conservative ideology, but I had to take a look at the responses.  They weren’t actually as bad as I thought they may be after I prepared myself, then dove in and took a look.

First I saw this:

More people working means less spent on benefits. Stimulate economy and make sure it pays to work. 

And a response to that:

@DeborahMeaden@nickgibbens It hasn’t just got to pay to work, it’s got to STOP paying to NOT work.

@Roberto_Rausa@DeborahMeaden Could not agree more Robbie…

I thought a response to both of them at once would be a good idea, so I did so.  Which, so far, hasn’t turned out to be too bad a decision.  And brought about quite an interesting Twitter chat.

Of course, not something I would be comfortable with in the real world.

I wanted them to know, and to understand a few important points.

  1. Many people do NOT choose not to work.
  2. The chronically ill and disabled certainly do not.  And do not deserve beatings at the hands of the Lib Con regime in power.
  3. The DWP’s own figures show that levels of fraud on Disability Living Allowance are at 0.5% and Incapacity at 0.3% (Click here for the DWP official report in PDF format)
  4. The levels of DWPs own errors are twice as high as the levels of fraud.  (£160 million, compared to £80 million – See the above link)
  5. That isn’t even counting the importance of the human costs in lives due to deaths and suicides due to the stresses and strains of being forced through the process, which i’ve posted about previously.
  6. People go in for part-time jobs rather than/as well as full-time jobs for a variety of reasons.  a) Childcare.  b) You have to go in for those jobs available, if you don’t you could have JSA removed c) It is physically impossible for every person seeking work to fit into every single job available.  d) Not every job is suitable for every individual, as I posted about myself previously here.
  7. The focus seems to take away from those who do need real support, which is not only financial in nature, but often healthcare wise.  In fact, sometimes better healthcare and shorter waiting lists may mean that some of us are available to get back to work quicker.  Yet those privileged people do not seem to understand, the NHS and welfare are joined together.  You can’t have one without the other, and if you cut costs in both it’s bad, very bad!

And that is what’s happening right now.  Costs are being cut everywhere.  You can’t seriously expect to cut services in welfare and the NHS without there being consequences of that conservative ideology.  You force people through this process with your twisted ideology, you are driving mentally ill people closer to the edge, yes, some even towards suicidal tendencies.  You cannot take away people’s support networks tell them to swim and expect them/us all to.  Because we are not all going to be able to do that.

With costs being cut also in the NHS, as well as in welfare it’s the perfect storm.  And it is perfect for the conservative ideology.  With so many thousands of deaths already in less than 1 year alone so far, how many more?  It’s time to end the ignorance.  We need a joined up welfare, healthcare and employment system.  Because this system is dying, and as it dies, so are human beings.  Those in power cannot seriously be clueless about this end result.  Hitler certainly wasn’t with his “arbeit macht frei ideology”.

Be careful what you wish for.  You could become mentally ill tomorrow.  Then you’d see!  First they came for…… And where were you then? “

‘Positive thinking’ is a convenient tool for controlling the minds of the masses.

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Barbara Ehrenreich’s book ‘Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World’ was inspired by her anger at being told that she needed to have ‘positive thinking’ to rid herself of her tumour. As an immunologist, she knew only too well the scientific realities about her cancer… and she was rightly disgusted by the punitive assumption that failure to be cured would implicitly be her own fault for failing to be sufficiently ‘positive’.

This led her to consider the ramifications of ‘positive thinking’ and ultimately the use of the “American Dream’ as a tool for controlling the minds of the masses.

Tumours are a source of happiness. Accepting the laws of physics – or not – is a matter of personal choice. And getting the things you want is primarily a question of imagining what it will be like when they are yours (and perhaps berating God for not having provided them yet). This sort of patent idiocy would be disturbing enough if it lurked only on the wilder fringes of life in America, but, as Barbara Ehrenreich explains in her affronted, surprisingly cheering attack on positive thinking, mainstream culture is also riddled with its destructive tenets. Everything from health care to the global financial system has been infested.
http://www.newstatesman.com/books/2010/01/positive-thinking-ehrenreich

‘Positive thinking’ conveniently shifts the burden of responsibility onto the individual, and it is a tool that has been employed skilfully by the Tory/LD coalition, with help from the media.  The most obvious case, is in the denial of there being 5 times as many unemployed as there are job vacancies… and that is without taking into consideration the uneven geographical distribution of jobs.  In some areas, the ratio is 25+ unemployed people for every vacancy.  Yet the government spins persistently about benefit scroungers, shoddy state education, the ‘wrong’ attitude… and variously punishes the ‘workshy’ for not ‘thinking positively’ enough to find a non-existent job.

Essentially, the focus is placed on the inherent characteristics, or capabilities, of the individual, and is deflected away from any external conditions.  In psychology, this comes under the heading of attribution theory.  It is suggested that the observer is more ‘comfortable’ believing that the subject slipped on a banana skin because they are inately clumsy, rather than to face the potential risk that they too might inadvertently slip on an unseen banana skin.  Hence ‘benefit scrounger’ is a powerful piece of spin which taps into a feature of the human psyche.  It is preferable to believe that others are unemployed because they are workshy, rather than face personal fears about the impact of the double-dip recession and economic meltdown.

Another highly pernicious example of the misuse of attribution theory, is in the redefinition of illness which underpins the Welfare Reform bill.  The Biopyschosocial model proposes:

… disease is the only objective, medically diagnosable pathology. Sickness is a temporary phenomenon. Illness is a behaviour – ‘all the things people say and do that express and communicate their feelings of being unwell’ (p39). The degree of illness behaviour is dependent not upon an underlying pathology but on ‘individual attitudes and beliefs’, as well as ‘the social context and culture in which it occurs’. Halligan and Wade are more explicit: ‘Personal choice plays an important part in the genesis or maintenance of illness’.

In other words, disease has concrete, physical aspects that can be demonstrated by medical tests.  Sickness is something like a cold which is self-limiting and from which you recover.  But ‘illness’ is a sort of psychological delusion mediated by the individual’s worldview and a ‘wanting to believe themselves to be ill’. Hence, the problem of being ‘ill’ is firmly located in the individual, and their beliefs and behaviour become the focus of moral judgment and action ie. scroungers, benefit cheats, malingerers, lacking in moral fibre, ‘learned helplessness’ and other such punitive terms.(1)

Thus, many of those with disability and long-term chronic illness are considered to be simply lacking ‘positive thinking’… and, therefore, the horrors of a Work Capability Assessment is justified by government. (2)  However, the reality is that this is a cynical means to reduce the benefits bill and put the UK on route to a two-tier US style of insurance-based welfare provision.

Barbara Ehrenreich suggests that the ‘American dream’ is the reason that ordinary Americans have not challenged the ‘upward redistribution of wealth by cutting taxes for the wealthiest, and in subtle ways, raising them for the poorest and for the middle class…  It’s a grab. It’s—I’m waiting for people to get really, really angry about it. I think one thing that has held back Americans is the idea that you’re going to get rich, too, you know? That magically, “Hey, I might be one of those multimillionaires next,” so that I don’t want to tax rich people.’  Barbara Ehrenreich: America’s Tragic Decline — Resistance Bursts Out All Over the World, While We Do Nothing to Fight Corporate Takeover August 8, 2011

To paraphrase Gramsci … in order to resist the mind control, we need to try and see the world as it really is – not as we want or fear it, to be.  Barbara Ehrenreich concurs by reiterating that we need ‘Realism’ not the magic of ‘Positive Thinking’.

RSA Animate – Smile or Die

Uploaded by theRSAorg on Mar 17, 2010
Acclaimed journalist, author and political activist Barbara Ehrenreich explores the darker side of positive thinking.

(1) https://think-left.org/2011/08/04/welfare-reform-and-mecfs/

(2) https://think-left.org/2011/11/22/welfare-reform-and-the-us-insurance-giant-unum/