Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Unemployment a Mental Health Problem to Solve by “Psycho-Compulsion”?

with 51 comments


Panopticon:  Model for DWP ‘Mental Health’ Surveillance of Unemployed.

Hat-tip to Benefit Tales.

The BBC reports,

Unemployment is being “rebranded” by the government as a psychological disorder, a new study claims.

Those that do not exhibit a “positive” outlook must undergo “reprogramming” or face having their benefits cut, says the Wellcome Trust-backed report.

This can be “humiliating” for job seekers and does not help them find suitable work, the researchers say.

Positive affect as coercive strategy: conditionality, activation and the role of psychology in UK government workfare programmes. Lynne Friedli1, Robert Stearn2

From Medical Humanities.


The paper, ” focuses on the coercive uses of psychology in UK government workfare programmes: as an explanation for unemployment (people are unemployed because they have the wrong attitude or outlook) and as a means to achieve employability or ‘job readiness’ (possessing work-appropriate attitudes and beliefs). The discourse of psychological deficit has become an established feature of the UK policy literature on unemployment and social security and informs the growth of ‘psychological conditionality’—the requirement to demonstrate certain attitudes or attributes in order to receive benefits or other support, notably food.i In addition, positive affect is routinely imposed in workfare programmes via the content of mandatory training courses and through job centre or contractor ‘messaging’, for example, motivational tweets or daily positive emails to claimants”

This is interesting as well:


Psycho-compulsion, defined as the imposition of psychological explanations for unemployment, together with mandatory activities intended to modify beliefs, attitude, disposition or personality, has become a more and more central feature of activating the unemployed and hence of people’s experience of unemployment. There has been little debate about the recruitment of psychology—and, by implication, psychologists—into monitoring, modifying and punishing people who claim social security benefits47 ,48 or research into the impact of mandatory positive affect on an expanding range of ‘unproductive’ or failing citizens:16 those who are out of work, not working enough, not earning enough and/or failing to seek work with sufficient application.

This is of even  greater interest!

Boycott workfare: history of a campaign

While there is considerable evidence of this hardening of public attitudes towards benefit claimants, the value of mandatory unpaid work activity and enforced ‘volunteering’ is strongly contested. There are numerous campaigning and claimant solidarity groups in the UK and the rest of Europe whose activities are concentrated in this area. One is Boycott Workfare, which evolved through the work of people who have experienced workfare in the UK. Formed in 2010, it is a movement that campaigns against the imposition of forced, unpaid work on several levels: by taking action to expose the involvement of companies and other entities in taking or arranging placements or providing mandatory training, and by acting as a point of information for claimants and other claimants’ organisations:We expose and take action against companies and organisations profiting from workfare; encourage organisations to pledge to boycott it; and actively inform people of their rights.67

Informing people of their rights means proposing a model of activity opposed to and subversive of the ‘activated’ welfare subject.

Undoing the legitimacy conferred on workfare, in part by its association with psychology, is a central concern of the campaign, as is counteracting the variously inflected negative stereotype of unemployed people. The ‘naming and shaming’ of organisations participating in workfare has led large numbers to withdraw and is a central factor in DWP efforts not to publish names of those involved. For example, the DWP argued (in appealing the Information Commissioner’s decision that they must publish the names of companies involved in Mandatory Work Activity) that making this information public “would have been likely to have led to the collapse of the […] scheme”.68,69 Concerns that mandatory placements undermine the meaning of volunteering have also led many voluntary agencies to sign a ‘keep volunteering voluntary’ agreement, undertaking not to take part in workfare schemes.70

As is the conclusion:

The participation of psychology and psychologists in the delivery of coercive goals in welfare reform clearly raises ethical questions.

Now comes the inevitable response (via the BBC):

The DWP said Friedli and Stearns’ report had no basis in fact and was just relying on anecdotal evidence from blogs and social media.

“We know that being unemployed can be a difficult time, which is why our Jobcentre staff put so much time and effort into supporting people back into work as quickly as possible,” said a DWP spokesman.

“We offer support through a range of schemes so that jobseekers have the skills and experience that today’s employers need.”

The government plans to place 350 psychologists in job centres by the end of the summer to help benefit claimants beat depression and get back into the jobs market.

Claimants will also be offered online cognitive behavioural therapy to boost their “employability”.

The DWP should get out of its comfort zone, end this unhealthy spiral of denial, and face up to its own cognitive and behavioural problems.



51 Responses

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  1. Remember awhile back I mentioned and gave a link to an article stating dissent as psychological disorder ?



    June 10, 2015 at 6:52 pm

  2. A while ago it was said by IFS that half of those on ESA were mentally ill, now it’s said every unemployed person is, next it will be every PT worker, – not working FT.

    “undergo “reprogramming” a new personality, then a psychological test. to make sure we are all obedient.


    June 10, 2015 at 6:59 pm

  3. Back in the day women were put in insane asylums for getting pregnant out of wedlock.
    Not the man, the woman.

    This is old hat as far as psychiatry is concerned, as bedlam was used for any defiance from the social restrictions of the day in the past.

    We see the Tories still have the mindset of the workhouse, that thinks the poor are mad. They are insane because they are poor. They are mentally ill feckless and that is why they are not 100 per cent employed.

    The Tories are trapped in a feudal aristocratic mindset that cannot even comprehend capitalism, let alone the people about them.

    But the super rich know what is about to happen. They’re having nightmares about it.

    The pitchforks are coming.

    The only hope so far is if Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Islington North, the sole anti austerity Labour leadership contender gets 35 plus, wise Labour MPs to back him.

    Mr Corbyn is the sole chance Labour has to ever be in government again.

    New Labour of all the current Labour leadership hopefuls, lost the 2010 election and lost thise one worst than ever.

    You’d think Labour would finally chuck out all New Labour and Progress entirely from the party, and bring back into the party all those councillors the Labour party sacked for voting against council austerity cuts budgets.

    Labour that fights against the cut of the state pension and the aboliton of penson credit next year, that is the flat rate pension (where everybody gets different amounts, lowest forecast seen so far is £8.39 after 45 years in work) will get a landslide victory in any coming elections.



    June 10, 2015 at 7:18 pm

  4. We are all as mad as a hatter 😀 😀 We just don’t know it 😀 😀

    The Unemployed Mad Hatter

    June 11, 2015 at 1:40 am

    • Who is mad unless told by another ?

      So mental illness is a matter of perception but heres the BUT.

      To earn as much as possible without max outlay is called capitalism so claimants are like tax avoiders (all companies and sole traders do this), shrewd capitalistic money makers. Who introduced capitalism to the UK, one Margret Thatcher.

      So effectively a claimant would be punished for a practice the conservatives introduced themselves back in the 70s.

      This aside the only group that its documented as stating not looking for work are the inactive and not the unemployed group so again demonstrates assumption rather than proof. To further stamp this as firm, In what world would a claimant ever say to DWP that there not looking for work whether its true or not, especially when they agree at the get go to be available and actively seeking work as a condition to being eligible for benefits in the first place.

      Is not wanting to work any less different or significant to not wanting someone to work for you ?

      Think about it.


      June 11, 2015 at 8:13 am

      • Not wanting to work – does this mean all those who don’t sign paperwork “while at a provider” or even those who don’t use those electronic sign pads – everyone who refuses to do what the DWP want us to do. – jobcentres will become dangerous places to go to.


        June 11, 2015 at 10:09 am

      • I did one of those psychometric tests when I was on a scheme with SEETEC.

        One of the amazing discoveries it made (apart from the very odd claim that I was an extremely trusting person) was that I had unconventional opinions.

        Andrew Coates

        June 11, 2015 at 11:12 am

      • This this the first (trick) question the ‘work programme’ ask you: “You can be honest with me, gaia 😉 Are you really looking for work or are you happy to stay on benefits?”


        June 11, 2015 at 11:16 am

      • Sorry trap, cant oblige you as apparently a member of the public is no longer eligible for benefits if you refuse to make there application online.

        And anyway im far to busy being in denial to be dissident.


        June 11, 2015 at 11:59 am

      • If any get asked that question that trap posted, simply say “yes” as it will confuse the crap out of the provider as you’ve both denied and agreed but to which part and parts.

        The twats cant even say you didn’t answer the question correctly as this would suggest cohesive behaviour (leading is its legal definition) and thus makes the question a statement and not a question of choice and that my friends is how you taunt DWP or provider alike.


        June 11, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      • This is a variation of how the coppers phrase their questions: “I want you to think very carefully before answering”.


        June 11, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      • I’ve never had a psychometric test, yet, If I’m ever sat in front of a psychologist I will tell them exactly what I think, which will be the brute honest truth, – reality.


        June 11, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      • It’s just a long questionnaire.

        I’d say it’s worthless at least on the basis of what I’ve seen, and that’s being exceptionally kind.

        Andrew Coates

        June 11, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      • Well get use to them enigma as its a growing market not to mention pipped to replace all other methods used in job interviews and agency recruitment.


        June 11, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      • Sorry but I won’t.


        June 12, 2015 at 12:43 pm

  5. Should people take advice from a person or department that’s in denial and should such a person or department be in the business of supporting people when apathy is all they deal in ?


    I particularly liked how they mentioned some thing no other media source did,

    the disability minister, Justin Tomlinson triumphantly pointed out that the government did not have to pay damages to the two claimants who took it to court (not mentioning the government had to pay all the legal costs), as if it had somehow “won” the case.

    Translated that means they’ve done precisely what the banks have done when in court, except that court costs are cheaper than there profits.

    So while the public hate claimants they should hate the tories more as they’ve and are behaving exactly as the banks did that lead to a global crash, meaning any tory would be hard pressed to say they don’t condone what the banks did and still are as nor can the public argue they aren’t complicit so cant complain when it happens again.

    So its hardly surprizing no one to date in the UK of any worthy note has been imprisoned for bank fraud and deception besides some insignificant patsy.

    I wish the public would get it, that the whole countries finances as planned by the tories is run like a bank and as such is privy to the same failings and corruption. Take the right to buy, a mere tory trick to inflate GDP and why would we want that apart from appeasing the public is because someone intends to borrow more money at the nations expense.

    If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck.


    June 11, 2015 at 10:02 am

  6. OT

    Published: 4 June 2015

    Effective: 1 August 2015

    Code of Conduct, privacy, Content, Enforcement. etc

    i. Don’t do anything illegal.
    ii. Don’t engage in any activity that exploits, harms or threatens to harm children.
    vii. Don’t engage in activity that is harmful to you, the Services or others (e.g. transmitting viruses, stalking, communicating hate speech or advocating violence against others).



    June 11, 2015 at 12:50 pm

  7. George Osborne considering £5bn cuts to child tax credits.



    June 11, 2015 at 1:24 pm

  8. War on women.

    Republicans look to end ‘war on women’ with fight over birth control.



    June 11, 2015 at 1:30 pm

  9. Turn benefits into repayable loan, says Tory group.


    Young unemployed people should be forced to repay their benefit money when they get a job, an influential group of Conservative MPs has said.

    The proposal to pay benefits as a loan would give them “an additional incentive to find work rather than allow the debt to build up”.

    The idea is included in a new book setting out a “radical” free market agenda for the Conservative government.

    Author Kwasi Kwarteng is seen as a rising star on the right of the party.

    The Conservative MP and junior ministerial aide argues that free enterprise – rather than government interference – is the answer to the problems facing Britain.

    Chancellor George Osborne is understood to be considering reducing tax credits for millions of working families in his July Budget, as part of the government’s efforts to “make work pay”, although critics accuse him of making the poor pay for the mistakes of bankers.
    ‘Stingy’ benefits

    Mr Kwarteng’s book argues for a more radical shrinking of the welfare state to return it to the contributory principle envisioned by its founder Sir William Beveridge – that you only get out what you have paid in.

    It says: “Strains on the welfare state are often blamed on benefits being too generous, but the truth is that welfare is so expensive – over £90bn for working-age benefits alone – because too many people are eligible.

    “In fact, JSA – the main out-of-work benefit – is fairly stingy for those who have contributed to the tax system for years and find themselves out of work for the first time.”

    The book says the government should “look at other ways to encourage work – while making sure that the system is not cruel to those who have simply been unlucky”.

    “Young individuals who have not yet paid national insurance contributions for a certain period, five years say, could receive their unemployment benefit in the form of a repayable loan.

    “An unemployed teenager would still receive the same amount of cash as now, for example, but they would be expected to repay the value once in work.

    “Turning an entitlement into a loan would mean that people would still be supported while out of work, but would have an additional incentive to find work rather than allow the debt to build up.”

    Even if someone was out of work for the entire seven years between 18 and 25, “the total sum repayable would be £20,475 – considerably less than the tuition fees loan repayable by many of his or her peers”.
    Maternity pay

    At the same time, those who have paid into the system for many years should get a “fairer deal” if they unexpectedly lose their job later in life.

    Other ideas in the book, A Time For Choosing: Free Enterprise in Twenty-First Century Britain, include scrapping maternity and paternity pay to ease the burden on business. Instead, new parents would get a flat rate “baby bonus” paid directly by central government.

    It also calls for the scrapping of some government departments, tax raising powers for local authorities, a regional minimum wage, allowing free schools to generate a profit, encouraging banks to use a common IT system allowing “portable” bank accounts and scrapping the BBC licence fee.

    The book pulls together policy ideas from the Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MPs, set up by Environment Secretary Liz Truss and other members of the 2010 intake of Conservative MPs to promote a leaner state and boost entrepreneurship. It is backed by the Institute for Economic Affairs think tank.

    Writing in the foreword toA Time for Choosing: Free Enterprise in Twenty-First Century Britain, published by Palgrave Macmillan, Mr Kwarteng says: “The capacity of individuals, companies and other groups to generate prosperity and well-being, when left to their own devices, is too often overlooked.

    We should allow a competitive and free economic environment to flourish in Britain, to challenge monopolies and oligopolies, and to allow individuals to create, innovate and take risks.”

    Andrew Coates

    June 11, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    • With the young working for their benefits or on zero hour, apprenticeships and never ending schemes when will they ever be able to repay the so called loans. as will be the case for millions of others not of young age. well if these things go ahead millions will no doubt suffer as a result.


      June 11, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    • Nice post Andrew Coates.

      Young people earn crap wages and often don’t pay tax or national insurance yet it appears some think they can afford debt repayments.

      So a kid gets a job, then needs dew to being a low earner to apply for tax credits and housing benefits. The kid cant get a one bedroom flat so has to spend more of there low wage despite receiving housing benefit making up the bedroom tax difference.

      I would say this is a very dumb idea but im sure it has an unpleasant agenda.

      14 years and counting.


      June 12, 2015 at 8:41 am

  10. Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.


    June 11, 2015 at 5:09 pm

  11. Annos

    June 11, 2015 at 6:31 pm

  12. The Independent’s version
    The DWP is trying to psychologically ‘reprogramme’ the unemployed, study finds


    Another Fine Mess

    June 11, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    • This is pretty sinister,

      “Claimants’ ‘attitude to work’ is becoming a basis for deciding who is entitled to social security – it is no longer what you must do to get a job, but how you have to think and feel,” she said.”

      Andrew Coates

      June 12, 2015 at 11:59 am

      • Can hear the sound of the goalposts once against; a name change to JSA is in order. In the same way the change from unemployment benefit to jobseekers allowance meant it was simply not enough to be unemployed to claim the main out of work benefit – try it! – you have to be “jobseeking” as well. Now, we have another dimension being added – your “attitude”. We are reaching a situation whereby you will be denied benefits because of your “attitude. Unemployed? Yes; Jobseeking?, Yes; Attitude, then it becomes like something out a novel by Philip K Dick… “hold on their is a doubt on your claim”, “why is that?”, “the jobcentre psychologist has determined that you have the wrong attitude”, “Does it give a reason?”, “Nope, doesn’t say, but didn’t you refuse to sign the community work placement paperwork, could be something to do with that”, “I didn’t refuse to sign anything, but I decided to not given consent to my personal information being shared between third-parties. By law I am legally entitled to do this under the provisions of the Data Protection Act. I also have an expectation of privacy under the European Privacy Directive”, “That may be true, I haven’t got the time to check, all well and good, but the question the psychologist could be asking is “does it present the wrong attitude”, this could be why a doubt has arisen on you claim to Jobseekeers with the Wright Attitude to Work Allowance (JWAWA). Nevertheless, as the situation stands we cannot pay you JWAWA. There is not a lot we can do. Have you considered voluntary euthanasia?

        Philip K Dick

        June 12, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      • Yes Andrew, I seen that statement in the above link BBC. so if one is found that they are not looking for work because they don’t want to then this will mean no benefits, so many will suffer as a result.


        June 12, 2015 at 12:51 pm

      • Ooops, I think someone forgot any treatment requires implicit consent unless unsound of mind, meaning to get around this DWP must first get you classed a basket case.

        Just like processing data you cannot through force or threat gain legal consent and DWP know this only to well.

        I think the public and press alike let alone certain politicians would notice a lot of benefit claimants suddenly being diagnosed as mental.

        The last thing the tories need is this as then it would indeed look like to the public that there picking on the ill and incapacitated while lining the pockets of big business. Not a cool sensible move considering the public are still not happy no one of any worthy note has been locked up for the 2007/8 banking global collapse.


        June 13, 2015 at 11:08 am

    • Just read this link and feel physically sick. Training the unemployed to be better for bosses! Sick. We are people not dogs to be trained. And under UC, will people like Me(working. Single mum on tax credits) have to be trained too? –
      I truly feel for the unemployed and I’m dreading UC too!

      kat rehman

      June 14, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      • “Those who are out of work, not working enough, not earning enough and/or failing to seek work with sufficient application”.

        I know what you mean Kat, it’s not exactly good news for millions.


        June 14, 2015 at 3:08 pm

  13. Jobs for all, there’s 100s of these!
    e-Bay Lister Required, £150 per day, Work from Home

    Another Fine Mess

    June 11, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    • Talk about shoe in for handling stolen goods or what another fine mess.


      June 12, 2015 at 8:48 am

      • Ms gaia, I most sincerely make disagree. Our company is of UK base and is made of very fine reputation and good upstanding. We excel to provide of most excellent. Our company is of long known and established most well. Sincerely most, Veronica Jones – (Manager Work from Home Jobs) ..

        Miss Charlotte Windsor (Manager Work for Homes)

        June 12, 2015 at 9:04 am

      • A fine reputation, established, upstanding, – with the need to go back to school.


        June 12, 2015 at 11:11 am

      • Hmmmm, yes of course you are, we british just love people who cant spell, we simply cant get enough of it but hey you could always stop using predictive text and oh I don’t know, take a course.


        June 13, 2015 at 10:28 am

  14. Care Act first-phase reforms.

    The Department of Health has implemented the first phase of the 2014 Care Act well, according to the National Audit Office. Ninety-nine per cent of local authorities were confident that they would able to carry out the Act reforms from April 2015.




    June 12, 2015 at 10:55 am

    • People who need urgent mental health care in England are receiving inadequate support, regulators say.

      The Care Quality Commission reviewed the help given to people in mental health crisis, which includes people who are suicidal, having serious panic attacks or psychotic episodes.

      The regulator said the system was “struggling to cope”.

      Its report also highlighted what it described as a “lack of compassion” from A&E staff.



      June 12, 2015 at 11:55 am

  15. New advisers in the local JC today, was down to 5 now up to roughly 10.


    June 12, 2015 at 11:18 am

    • Is that good or bad news?

      Worried JC User

      June 12, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      • The new ones wern’t seeing any claimants, yet, they seem to be busy with paperwork, maybe Capita.


        June 12, 2015 at 12:09 pm

  16. “Better off in work” that guy who got a job on 28 hours per week, signed off benefits, both JSA and HB, so he comes into the food bank today with a voiucher for food. – nothing unusual.


    June 12, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    • Gaia

      it seems that 28 hours per week is considered a full time job, what with not entitled to any benefits.


      June 12, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      • If they are under JSA then yes the unemployed JSA is over but housing benefit isn’t as its set for low earners and the unemployed so currently DWP cant stop you claiming it.

        At £182 a week assuming they do 28 hours every week would entitle them dependant on cost of rent to housing assistance not to mention community tax rebate if alone.

        As I said if they register as a sole trader ontop of this job, they will be classified as eligible for tax credit.


        June 13, 2015 at 10:26 am

      • I will tell him that when I next see him.


        June 13, 2015 at 3:37 pm

  17. OT, a bit fun, for a change.

    Last year I upgraded Girlfriend 1.0 to Wife 1.0 and noticed that the new program began unexpected child processing that took up a lot of space and valuable resources. No mention of this phenomenon was included in the product brochure.

    Wife 1.0 is an OPERATING SYSTEM and designed by its creator to run everything. It is unlikely you would be able to purge Wife 1.0 and still convert back to Girlfriend 1.0. Hidden operating files within your system would cause Girlfriend 1.0 to emulate Wife 1.0 so nothing is gained. It is impossible to uninstall, delete, or purge the program from the system once installed. You can not go back to Girlfriend 1.0 because Wife 1.0 is not designed to do this. Some have tried to install Girlfriend 2.0 or Wife 2.0 but end up with more problems than original system. Look in your manual under Warnings – Alimony/Child Support


    June 12, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    • God Forbid you accidently Load up Helper Program Mother In Law 1.0. – you find that the chaotic operating of the system starts to experience uffer overruns and falls over. That is if the operating system communicates anything at all back to you the user.


      June 12, 2015 at 5:41 pm


    “Even under the poor law that preceded the welfare state, it was unlawful for the authority to refuse support to to person who had no income or savings even for a short period of time”


    Universal Credit will leave new claimants without support for 6 weeks – and that is before any sanctions kick in!


    June 12, 2015 at 9:49 pm

  19. If this does not wake people up to the muddled thinking by the just out of college / University misfits that are now dictating policy at Department of Work and Pensions Headquarters at Caxton House London , then nothing will.
    Somebody needs to tell these self serving freaks of nature that they are dealing with Human Beings not Robots who have to be programmed.
    I blame Blair who thought it was a good idea to follow America with its outsourcing and privatisation of essential public services , well at least we can now see just how detached from reality senior management within the D.W.P has become, whoever thought this was a good idea needs sectioning under the Mental Health Act ,or failing that I have the details of a good shrink in Harley Street who has successfully treated individuals driven to the edge of insanity by Tory Policy in the early 1990’s . David Anthony Penson Bracknell Berkshire.

    David Anthony Penson

    June 14, 2015 at 5:50 pm

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