Painting disabled people as ‘workshy’: that’s what benefits cuts are all about : THE GUARDIAN


The latest government changes equate illness with a lack of motivation, as welfare becomes a tool to modify behaviour.

What’s worse: kicking someone because you’ve convinced yourself it will help them, or knowing it won’t and doing it anyway? This isn’t some abstract moral dilemma: with a new wave of “welfare” cuts set to come into force next week, a perverse ideology seems to be driving government policy.

Take the grim cut to Employment and Support Allowance, the out-of-work sickness benefit relied on by hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities, mental health problems and chronic illnesses. From April, anyone newly classed by the Department for Work and Pensions as “Wrag”, or Work-Related Activity Group – people judged as so ill they can only take steps to prepare for future work rather than actually apply for jobs – will see their benefit shrink by £30 a week. That translates…

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9 days, over 14 phone calls, and a lot of Vivaldi later…

scottish unemployed workers' network

skeleton on phone

When I finally got a phone call to tell me that the DWP was lifting John’s sanction we had almost given up on the idea that this was ever going to happen. John is in the ESA Work Related Activity Group – he should really be in the Support Group, but that is another story. He suffers from a whole range of problems including nerve damage in his leg, and some days can’t get out of the house at all.

John has to attend the Work Programme run by Triage in Dundee, but several times he has not been well enough to take part. When that happens he is careful to get a sick-line from his doctor, and he has then been given another appointment for when the sick-line has expired. Sometimes this has resulted in a letter from the DWP asking for ‘good cause’ for the missed appointment, but…

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696. The Bearpit (52)

Natural adventures

It is always great to see a new Tom Miller piece, and this is a wall he has favoured in the past. I can’t keep up with this particular wall, and have some pieces that have never made it to the blog. Maybe if I was retired…

Tom Miller, The Bearpit, Bristol, March 2017 Tom Miller, The Bearpit, Bristol, March 2017

This work has all the hallmarks of a Miller piece; body parts bursting with a suffusion of colour and ‘imaginite’ – the way thoughts might look if they could be painted. There is a little story going on here, chasing after love perhaps. I would like to think it is a happy picture and not a morose or sad one. I really am a big fan of Tom Miller’s work.

Tom Miller, The Bearpit, Bristol, March 2017 Tom Miller, The Bearpit, Bristol, March 2017

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Fit For Work Tests Cause Permanent Damage To Claimants Mental Health Finds Study

Same Difference

The Government’s fit-to-work tests for access to disability benefits are causing permanent damage to some claimants’ mental health, from which they are not recovering, a new study has warned.

The research, conducted by academics at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt and Napier universities, found that the Work Capability Assessment experience “for many, caused a deterioration in people’s mental health which individuals did not recover from”.

It also established, through dozens of in-depth interviews of people who had been through the tests, that “in the worst cases, the WCA experience led to thoughts of suicide”. Mental health charities said the interviews’ contents “reflect what we hear from people every day”.

The study interviewed 30 people with existing mental health conditions who had taken the tests throughout 2016. Most suffered from depression or anxiety, while a smaller number had more complex issues like bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder. In addition, researchers also interviewed a number of…

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