Charities are missing the point – disability benefit assessments were designed to fail
By Mo Stewart: Another significant report, this time by Z2K, has just been published by yet another well-meaning charity, demonstrating once again the numbers of chronically ill and disabled people suffering, due to the policies of this dangerous neoliberal, extreme right-wing Conservative government. The difficulty is, we’ve heard it all before…
How many more reports will we see, all telling the same story, whilst totally missing the point?
I have been researching this subject for very nearly ten years, to the point where there are some academics who acknowledge me as the lead independent researcher in the UK regarding the American corporate influence with UK social policies.
But, does anyone in the disabled community or charity sector take any notice of the vast amount of evidence exposed over the years? Seemingly not, as demonstrated by the conclusions of these many reports which are invariably wrong because they are concentrating on the wrong priorities.
The political rhetoric willingly reported by the national press, and repeated by various charities writing more official reports, is that the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) were introduced by the government as ‘cost-saving measures’, with the ambition to reduce government spending on disability benefits.
That claim was a political smokescreen that most seem to have fallen for…
Clearly, the introduction of the ESA and PIP have not reduced the costs of disability benefits funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP); not least because the corporate contracts paid to the private sector to conduct these test runs into £multi-millions, money which if better spent could save the NHS, and has trebled the expenditure by the DWP in the last ten years.
The reality is that the assessment for both ESA and PIP uses the fatally flawed Waddell and Aylward biopsychosocial (BPS) model of assessment, with this 2005 DWP commissioned research funded by UnumProvident Insurance, and designed to restrict access to benefit as the BPS model disregards diagnosis, prognosis, past medical history and prescribed drugs.
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In other words, the totally bogus Waddell and Aylward BPS model of assessment, as used to assess claimants for the ESA and PIP benefits, and for the new Universal Credit too, is designed for sick and disabled people to fail the assessment, and is a replica of the assessment model used by Unum (Provident) Insurance to resist funding income protection insurance policies.
Rather than government ‘cost-saving measures’, these assessments were designed to reduce public confidence in the welfare state, which would lead to the removal of the welfare state to eventually replace it with private healthcare insurance, as a replica of the American system.
That is why the second worst insurance company in America, who were identified as an ‘outlaw company’, have been official government advisers for ‘welfare claims management’ since 1994, and distinguished academics were warning about the American influence with the UK’s welfare policies as long ago as 2004.
If nothing else, the DWP and the UK government stand back and watch as more and more protests build, and reports are written about assessments, mandatory reconsiderations, appeal tribunals, the cruelty, suffering and despair, the removal of Legal Aid, the closure of the Independent Living Fund, etc, etc, etc. This was all planned a long time ago, and this is what the DWP want to happen because, with all that effort concentrating on the many different atrocities, no-one is concentrating on the real agenda; which is the planned demolition of the UK welfare state.
In reality, all the atrocities that people are experiencing are only possible because the tyranny is securely in place, following many years of misleading political rhetoric, geared to reduce the public psychological confidence in the welfare state, to make it much easier to remove.
Chronically ill and disabled people live in fear of the DWP and the inevitable brown envelope, calling them for another meaningless assessment using the totally bogus and very dangerous Waddell and Aylward BPS assessment model.
The negative impact on public mental health of these assessments has been very well documented, and suicides linked to the ESA are at disturbing levels, with one NHS report advising that almost 50% of ESA claimants had attempted suicide.
Considering the possible combined resources of the disability support groups and the charity sector, it should be possible to pool resources and concentrate on one subject, and one subject only. The BPS assessment model used for the ESA, PIP and UC ‘assessments’ has failed all academic scrutiny and is demonstrated to have created preventable harm. It should be stopped with immediate effect.
If all effort and resources were combined to that one goal then progress could be made, not least because the DWP will not see it coming…
Mo Stewart is an independent researcher, retired healthcare professional, and TruePublica contributor. Her book “Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state” was published in 2016 by New Generation Publishing. You can find out more about Mo’s research by visiting her new website at www.mostewartresearch.co.uk.