Ipswich Unemployed Action.

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Damian Green Tipped for Chancellor as Universal credit ‘must be halted’ – Scottish social security minister after Inverness meeting

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Damian Green - immigration minister.jpg

A few days ago..  Damian Green denies he will replace Philip Hammond as Chancellor

‘He is doing a great job…and I’m sure will continue to do so after the election’

Davidson caught out over ‘shameful’ child poverty claim

Scottish Conservatives leader accused of falsely claiming child poverty has fallen under the Tories.

Inverness Courier. 

HOW many people have to suffer before the UK Government freezes the roll out of problematic new benefit changes, a Scottish minister has asked.

The social security minister, Jeane Freeman, made her comments during a visit to Inverness where she heard of people going hungry and being plunged into debt as a result of universal credit.

The city, along with Nairn, Badenoch, Strathspey, Wester Ross and Ullapool, was one of the first places to feel the force of the new single benefit when a trial began last year. It replaces Jobseeker’s Allowance, employment and support allowance, income support, child tax credit, working tax credit and housing benefit, and will be rolled out gradually across the UK over the coming years.

Claimants say they have been plagued with problems since the trial launched – from the complicated online application to a six-week benefits freeze any time a change of circumstances is reported.

On Monday Ms Freeman attended a working group of Highland Council, Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) and housing associations and was shocked by the hardship people have been left in.

“I heard a lot of detail about the practical difficulties of the roll out and the impact it has, not only on individuals but the local authorities and housing associations,” she said. “The Scottish Government has already asked the UK Government to halt the roll out until they get these problems fixed.

“Online is just one part which is causing problems because not everyone is confident working online. The information being asked for isn’t always clear and in many places in the Highlands you can easily lose signal. Even what can be done on the phone costs money and if benefits have been frozen money is something people don’t have.”

Highland Council is now owed more than £700,000 in rent arrears from people on the new benefits system, an increase of 82 per cent since September last year.

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Written by Andrew Coates

May 27, 2017 at 2:14 pm

Job Centre Closures: Lobby Today.

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Image result for jobcentre closures

The PCS Union announces.

Ahead of PCS’ lobby of parliament on Tuesday (28 March) opposing DWP office closures, MPs, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and others have been highlighting the negative impact that these closures will have on staff, users and the local community. Find out how you can join the lobby.

PCS has arranged the speaker meeting and lobby as part of our campaign to oppose office closures to over 100 DWP offices, including 74 jobcentres, representing more than 10% of the total. This will lead to at least 750 job losses. DWP plans to replace staff they make redundant with new staff, at further cost to the taxpayer.

The lobby will start with a speaker meeting in parliament at 1pm followed by a lobby from 2-4 pm in committee room 10, Houses of Parliament (St Stephen’s Gate Entrance) Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA.

And: 

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka has said of the plans: “Jobcentres provide a lifeline for unemployed people and forcing them to travel further is not only unfair, it undermines support to get them back to work.”

Staff will face job losses, and in some cases, unreasonable travel journeys to and from work. Those with caring responsibilities, childcare commitments and access requirements will be particularly disadvantaged. Staff losses are coming at a time when Universal Credit is being rolled out, hampered by delays, IT failures and backlogs. DWP could redeploy staff to Universal Credit where resources are needed.

In Glasgow 50% of DWP offices are targeted for closure in an area where unemployment is higher than the national average.

Staff in Bishop Auckland, one of the offices targeted for closure, also contribute more than £100,000 a year to local businesses.

In Llanelli, £500,000 could be lost annually to local traders if the closure of the benefits office goes ahead.

We share many of the concerns raised by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who is “extremely concerned” by the plans and manner of consultation. The mayor has raised concerns with the minister for employment, Damian Hinds, including the impact of the closures, the lack of adequate time for consultation, the increased travel time and costs for users, the impact on disabled people, BAME communities and young people from low income families. The mayor states that “plans to close job centres…will hit the disadvantaged hardest”.

“Now, more than ever, the government should be focusing its efforts on creating new jobs and helping those most in need of support to access employment,” he said.

The government has not consulted claimants who use these job centres on the closure plans. Many are in areas of high unemployment and social deprivation. Disability claimants, staff/users with caring responsibilities and vulnerable users must be given due regard in terms of the equality impact assessment and the disadvantage that they will face if offices close or are relocated. Having to travel further as a result of these proposals also means some users are unfairly out of pocket and run the risk of being sanctioned for lateness. Equality impact assessments have not been carried out to assess the disadvantaged groups that will be hit by this campaign.

What you can do

Concerns have been raised by MPs in parliament and your local MP can also play a powerful role in this campaign; they need to hear from you to raise awareness and about the impact that this will have in the local community.  If you have never been to a lobby of parliament before, PCS will be on hand to support you on the day.

Make your voice heard – contact your MP now and arrange a meeting for 28 March.

Background Mirror:, 26th of January.

Reckless” plans to slash millions from the welfare department’s bill by shutting Jobcentres across the country have been revealed.

The Department for Work and Pensions today announced it wants to merge staff and facilities from 78 smaller Jobcentre Plus offices into larger ones.

It wants to move another 50 into council or other similar offices to create “one-stop shops”, and shut 27 back offices.

The DWP insisted the move – carried out to slash its bills by £180m a year – would employ “under-used” buildings more efficiently.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 28, 2017 at 11:52 am

Labour Shadow, Debbie Abrahams, urges the government to end its “shirker, scrounger rhetoric” but post-Brexit new Benefit shake up Looms.

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Image result for shirkers and scroungers

Hate Speech in Millionaires’ far-Right Press. 

Parliament today (BBC):

Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams urges the government to end its “shirker, scrounger rhetoric”.

She calls for cuts to the Employment Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group to be reversed, arguing that they target sick and disabled people.

She tells the House that the country is becoming “more and more unequal” and attacks the government for giving tax breaks to the “highest earners”.

 Followed by:

Work and Pensions Minister Penny Mordaunt tells MPs that government is helping people to get out of their jobless situation “not just to endure it”.

She says that new money from the Treasury will be used to extend a hardship fund and adds that the government will help jobseekers with “work related costs”.

The debate comes to an end and MPs vote on Labour’s motion.

The result is expected at approximately 4.20pm.

I think we know already what that will be…..

Debbie Adams MP has already written this:   No more “shirkers” or “scroungers” – let’s overhaul the culture of the benefits system (6th of October)

I’ve been campaigning to stop the Government’s punitive sanctions regime for nearly four years now, ever since the Coalition government introduced their new sanctions regime in 2012. I have quizzed the former secretary of state for work & pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, specifically on this issue, and have worked with people who have been affected by sanctions. These include Gill Thompson, whose brother, David Clapson, died after being sanctioned.

In January 2015, I managed to get the work and pensions select committee to agree to hold an inquiry on sanctions. The evidence was shocking. We heard of the sudden rise in sanctions, with 3.2m alone occurring between October 2012 and June 2014. Sanctions to people who were sick or disabled on Employment Support Allowance increased five-fold.

We heard from Jobcentre Plus advisers of sanction “targets” in order to get claimants “off-flow”, in benefits speak, which distorted the unemployment claimant count in the process. And we heard of the dramatic rise in foodbank use, with more than1m foodbank parcels in 2014, primarily as a result of sanctions. We heard in turn of the effects on the physical and mental health of claimants and their families.

The select committee made more than 20 recommendations, including stopping financial sanctions for people who were sick or disabled on ESA, or vulnerable in other ways, and setting up an independent body to investigate deaths associated with sanctions.

Unfortunately, the government refused to accept the select committee’s recommendations.

Since the inquiry, the government has been compelled to publish details of 49 claimants who died between 2012 and 2014, 10 of whom died following a sanction. It is still to publish reports on another nine claimant deaths since 2014. We have discovered that the government is watering down the guidance to jobcentre staff to identify and protect vulnerable claimants.

Meanwhile the following is worth thinking about.

Everything Theresa May planned for the benefits system needs to change because of what Brexit Britain will look like

 Reports Andrew Grice in the Independent this afternoon.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies calculates that 11.5 million families, who were originally due to lose an average of £260 a year, are now likely to lose £360 because of higher inflation. The Government will save £4.6bn instead of £3.6bn.

Damian Green, the One Nation Conservative appointed Work and Pensions Secretary by Theresa May, has started to smooth some of the rougher edges of what can be a tough benefits system – as anyone who has seen Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake knows.

People with the most severe health conditions on Employment and Support Allowance will no longer face reassessments. On Wednesday, Green announced that jobseekers who are homeless or have a mental health condition will have immediate access to hardship payments if they are hit by a benefit sanction.

(NOTE: this leaves everybody else still at risk from the arbitary “police of JobCentre Plus).

 While these are welcome steps, the big picture emerging under the May Government is less flattering. We will know more about its intentions towards those on benefits next week when Philip Hammond delivers his Autumn Statement, the first economic update since the Brexit vote.

May pressed the Chancellor to do something for the “just managing” classes she promised to champion on becoming Prime Minister. After some tense negotiations, measures such as a freeze in fuel duty, cuts to air passenger duty and more help with childcare costs seem to be on the agenda.

Green has promised no further welfare cuts before the next general election. But that is not as generous as it sounds because £12bn of cuts are already in the pipeline. They include almost £3bn from reducing work allowances under Universal Credit – the amount families can earn before their benefits are scaled back. About three million people will lose an average of £1,000 a year, reducing the incentive to work for those striving that May wants to help.

Regarding these people as “claimants” misses the point; about two in three children growing up in poverty have at least one parent in work. The biggest challenge on welfare is in-work poverty, not so-called scroungers.

Hammond should stop the cut to work allowances by switching some of the £8bn earmarked for income tax cuts for the middle classes, which are likely to go ahead because they were promised in last year’s Tory manifesto. By 2020, the threshold for the 40p higher rate will rise to £50,000 and the personal allowance to about £12,500.

Then this…

Written by Andrew Coates

November 16, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Behavioural “Insights” Team on Sanctions and “Identity-building activities.”

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Somewhere we hope never to go…

Most of us are familiar with the way the DWP Job Centre, and all the rest of the schemes we are on, are run on the basis of some kind of managerial theory which tries to ‘nudge’ (force) us to behave in order to fit into their idea of what we should do to get employment.

On the Work Programme this could involve being told to “get out of your comfort zone”, listening to heroic tales of how the trainers obtained their magnificent positions through hard work, or (job centre) somebody going through your Job Seeker’s Agreement with a fine tooth comb to find if you have spent every waking hour asking “giv us a job”.

People have made money out of theorising this practice, and no doubt drawing up the guidelines for DWP and Trainers to follow.

Indeed their is a whole ‘unit’, the Behavioural Insights Team, that produces hefty reports on such affairs.

There is a book, “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein” (2008) which has replaced How to Win Friends and Influence People” on every huckster’s book shelf.

This American text’s core message was summed up by the New York Review of Books as follows,

Nudging is about the self-conscious design of choice architecture. Put a certain choice architecture together with a certain heuristic and you will get a certain outcome. That’s the basic equation. So, if you want a person to reach a desirable outcome and you can’t change the heuristic she’s following, then you have to meddle with the choice architecture, setting up one that when matched with the given heuristic delivers the desirable outcome. That’s what we do when we nudge.

It’s all for your own Good. Jeremy Waldron.

Naturally the book came to the UK where this was the reception (Richard Reeves, Observer. 2008)

Nudge has become the ‘it’ book for politicos. Thaler is in the middle of a fortnight in the UK and is being courted and feted by the chattering, thinking, wonking classes. Everyone who is anyone has been nudged by the amiable prof (I bought him dinner). The Conservatives moved quickly to stake their claim to his brand of ‘libertarian paternalism’, seeing in it a way for the state to act non-coercively for the greater good.

The (gibberish sounding) Behavioural Insights Team) was the result.

The quality of the thinking, research and proposals of this merry crew is praised in the book, Inside the Nudge Unit: How Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference.  David Halpern. 2016.

You can judge for yourself (Review: Public Finance)

Human beings are amazingly complicated, so you do get surprises coming up on a regular basis even if you’re fairly expert,” Halpern says. He cites the example of a big discrepancy in the results of a judgment test sat by applicants to the police. “It’s an online test – there are no human beings involved – and yet there was a massive difference in the pass rate between white and ethnic minority candidates, 60% versus 40%,” he explains. “There were lots of hypotheses about why this might be – you can imagine some of the ideas.”

We can indeed.

People are really complicated.

Wow.

The Unit came up with wizard wheezes like “Giving a day’s salary to charity” “Using a lottery to increase electoral participation rates” and “Increasing fine payment rates through text messages.” (more see Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), also known unofficially as the “Nudge Unit“)

And….”.”Personal commitment devices in Jobcentres.”

Iain Duncan Smith’s DWP did not do “non-coercive”, so we had…sanctions to “nudge” us in the right direction.

As in, I, Daniel Blake.

Now we hear this from the Nudgers:

DWP must review welfare conditionality, policy unit set up by Downing Street says (Independent a few days ago)

The Government should review its practice of forcing benefit claimants to jump through hoops like attending Jobcentre meetings in order to claim benefits, a policy unit set up by Downing Street has recommended.

The Behavioral Insights Team, set up by David Cameron in 2010, said piling unemployed people with responsibilities on pain of sanction might actually be making it harder for them to get jobs.

The so-called Nudge Unit, which was part-privatised in 2014, warned that some Government policies were reducing so-called “cognitive bandwidth” or “headspace” of the people they were designed to help.

Is that all?

Not quite.

‘Nudge Unit’ u-turn on benefit sanctions could herald even more state intervention  replies Sue Jones in Welfare Weekly.

It’s very interesting that the Behavioural Insights Team now claim that the state using the threat of benefit sanctions may be “counterproductive”. The idea of increasing welfare conditionality and enlarging the scope and increasing the frequency of benefit sanctions originated from the behavioural economics theories of the Nudge Unit in the first place.

The increased use and rising severity of benefit sanctions became an integrated part of welfare “conditionality” in the Conservative’s Welfare “reform” Act, 2012. The current sanction regime is based on a principle borrowed from behavioural economics theory – an alleged cognitive bias we have called “loss aversion.” It refers to the idea that people’s tendency is to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. The idea is embedded in the use of sanctions to “nudge” people towards compliance with welfare rules of conditionality, by using a threat of punitive financial loss, since the longstanding, underpinning Conservative assumption is that people are unemployed because of alleged behavioural deficits and poor decision-making. Hence the need for policies that “rectify ” behaviour.

This is important,

….anyone curious as to how such tyrannical behaviour modification techniques like benefit sanctions arose from the bland language, inane, managementspeak acronyms and pseudo-scientific framework of “paternal libertarianism” – nudge – here is an interesting read: Employing BELIEF: Applying behavioural economics to welfare to work, which is focused almost exclusively on New Right small state obsessions. Pay particular attention to the part about the alleged cognitive bias called loss aversion, on page 7.

It gets worse.

A lot worse, drivel wise that is.

This is what they propose:

Work

1 Use identity-building activities in Jobcentres to cultivate intrinsic motivation for work in order to improve the quality and sustainability of jobs that people find.

2 Collect longer-term and more holistic outcome measures of labour market interventions to understand their full impact on poverty.

3 Develop a simple tool for Jobcentres to identify capital deficits in order to match interventions to individual job seeker needs.

Sue Jones states,

Proposals such as providing access to parenting programmes, “identity-building activities in Jobcentres to cultivate intrinsic motivation for work”, “rainy day “savings, and “develop a simple tool for Jobcentres to identify capital deficits in order to match interventions to individual job seeker needs” all sound like a New Right blame-storming exercise. Again, the problem of poverty is regarded as being intrinsic to the individual, rather than one that arises in a wider political, economic, cultural and social context.

People have to read the Welfare Weekly article in full.

But the impression I get is that this latest  jolly prank looks like subjecting claimants to more, endlessly more, attempts by this lot to shape our lives and tell us what to do.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 25, 2016 at 3:39 pm

Lowest-paid workers to receive smaller pay rises. How will this affect Universal Credit?

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Lowest-paid workers to receive smaller pay rises, says thinktank

Uncertainty caused by Brexit vote means ‘

The survey results counter evidence that high-profile companies, including Tesco, Marks & Spencer and B&Q, clawed back staff benefits after the introduction of the national living wage.

D’Arcy said: “Encouragingly, evidence of workers seeing their hours cut or even losing their jobs has so far been relatively limited. The challenge now is for firms to continue to respond positively to the national living wage, particularly by raising productivity.”

will rise more slowly, according to the Resolution Foundation.

Welfare weekly. 

Millions of workers on the national living wage are set for smaller than expected pay rises by the end of the decade after the EU referendum, according to a thinktank.

It does not much to see that this was an effect on Universal Credit and welfare payments..

Original story from the Guardian.

The “national living wage” introduced by the chancellor, George Osborne, is set to rise more slowly because it is linked to average worker earnings, which are now expected to come under pressure following the referendum.

The real-terms value of the wage by 2020 could be up to 40p an hour lower than the £8.31 predicted before the EU vote, according to the report by the Resolution Foundation.

The minimum pay rate of £7.20 an hour for over-25s was in

The real-terms value of the wage by 2020 could be up to 40p an hour lower than the £8.31 predicted before the EU vote, according to the report by the Resolution Foundation.

The minimum pay rate of £7.20 an hour for over-25s was introduced by Osborne in April after he said: “Britain deserves a pay rise.” The rate is designed to gradually increase over the next four years and initial estimates had suggested it could reach £9 an hour by 2020.

But the thinktank found there is increasing uncertainty about the outlook for earnings. This will have a major knock-on effect on the national living wage, it says. The national living wage aims to reach 60% of a typical (over-25) worker’s hourly wage by 2020. The Resolution Foundation expects 4.5 million employees to benefit from the national living wage in 2016, rising to 6 million – or 23% of all employees – in 2020.

This is important:

The survey results counter evidence that high-profile companies, including Tesco, Marks & Spencer and B&Q, clawed back staff benefits after the introduction of the national living wage.

D’Arcy said: “Encouragingly, evidence of workers seeing their hours cut or even losing their jobs has so far been relatively limited. The challenge now is for firms to continue to respond positively to the national living wage, particularly by raising productivity.”

Written by Andrew Coates

July 11, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Osborne to “Dismantle Welfare State Brick by Brick”.

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George Osborne Sneering at the Less Well Off.

This confirms what a lot of us have thought for some time: the Tories want to take away the social rights of millions, make poverty the spur to accepting low pay and poor conditions, and let their chancer friends make as much money as possible out of the corpse of the Welfare State.

Background in the Telegraph.

Spending Review: IFS warns of deepest cuts in history

The state will be radically different by the time George Osborne has finished cutting public spending, Institute for Fiscal Studies says, ahead of the Spending Review and Autumn Statement on November 25.

In the article we see this,

Mr Osborne is now legally required to cap welfare spending each year, meaning he has little room for manoeuvre in easing the cuts.

George Osborne ‘Wants To Dismantle The Welfare State Brick By Brick’

George Osborne is seeking nothing less than the complete dismantling of the welfare state, says John McDonnell.

Britain’s poorest households are bracing themselves for some of deepest cuts we have ever seen, with Labour warning that George Osborne is seeking nothing less than the complete dismantling of the welfare state.

The Chancellor is said to be preparing a devastating myriad of cuts to benefits and vital services for some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society, which he will unveil in the Autumn Spending Review later this week.

Osborne is reported to have reached a deal with the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, to safeguard the Universal Credit budget in return for cuts in other areas of welfare spending.

Iain Duncan Smith reportedly threatened to resign if Osborne raided Universal Credit to soften the blow of tax credits cuts.

The move would have meant that the taper rate for Universal Credit would rise from 65p to 75p, meaning that working people would lose 75 pence for every pound earned over the earnings threshold – removing “work incentives”, say opponents.

It is believed that cuts to tax credits will continue to go ahead, be it in a slightly diluted form, despite opposition from a growing number of Tory MPs and recent defeats in the House of Lords.

The exact scale of those changes is as yet unknown, but it is believed that Osborne is seeking reductions in housing benefit to “mitigate”, or slow down, the pace of cuts to tax credits.

It has also been reported that Osborne will push for far-reaching cuts to council services, including reductions in social care spending for the elderly.

Sickness and disability benefits may also be targeted for further cuts.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell says Tory austerity cuts are ideologically driven, and more about shrinking the state than tackling the nation’s deficit.

George Osborne will use “smoke and mirrors” to cut spending on social security, he said.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the deficit – the gap between what the government spends and takes in – grew by 16% in the year from October 2014 to £8.2bn, significantly higher than the £6bn forecast by economists.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has forecast that this could reach a staggering £69.5bn in the fiscal year to April 2016.

The damning figures have exposed Osborne to claims that his austerity agenda simply isn’t working, and also that the government is failing to balance the books.

However, John McDonnell says George Osborne’s cuts aren’t about tackling the deficit.

“If he really wanted to do that, he wouldn’t have cut inheritance tax, or corporation tax or sold off some of the things that were making profits.

“That’s why I think it’s about more than that. It’s ideological. He wants to dismantle the welfare state brick by brick.”

It is worth reading this in full: Welfare Weekly. 

So Iain Duncan Smith has saved something of his pet project, at the expense of other people on benefits.

What a surprise…

The BBC reports,

George Osborne’s plan to raise more money than he needs to spend is “unacceptable” when he is cutting benefits, according to John Swinney.

Scotland’s deputy first minister has written to the chancellor ahead of his Autumn Statement.

Mr Osborne has argued a surplus is needed while the economy is growing.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has also sent a letter to him warning of the “devastating consequences” of his cuts to tax credits.

In his letter, Mr Swinney said the tax credit cuts would deprive a quarter of a million households, many living on low pay and raising children, of an average £1,500.

See also: The Observer view on the autumn statement. 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 22, 2015 at 12:09 pm

New Government Experiments with Ill and Disabled People.

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Work Coachy.

People who’ve completed the Work Programme are now being made to attend one hour sessions at Job centres, on, you guessed it, CV writing, applying for jobs, and interviews.

One thing struck me during my first, I admit, well organised, lesson.

The chap talking said that the reason that Coachie is called a Work Coach (by, er, like, nobody except the DWP), is that the helpful person at the Job Centre who does your “Jobsearch Review” (not a critics gathering, what they now call signing on) is meant to be like a trainer for athletes.

They help get us fit for the race, and then it’s up to us to run it to grab the job.

I can think of plenty of things wrong, even troubling, with this image.

It suggests that applying for a post stacking shelves in Poundland is similar to competing in the Olympics.

Gasp, gasp, one last push, elbow out the others, pant pant, kick the competition down, gasp gasp, final hurdle. Crowd applauds. Gold Medal pinned to your breast….

Or that we might, like in the Tour de France, and, it seems just every athletic event, be tempted to pump ourselves up with illegal substances to win the prize.

But I let that pass – waiting for the DWP to offer me some…..

What really struck me is just how much this kind of cod-psychology – pushing people with barely disguised threats – is the rule in the ‘free market’ world of the DWP and Iain Duncan Smith.

So it’s no surprise that this latest madcap and thoroughly unpleasant has come up.

Revealed: Social Experiments To ‘Nudge’ Sick And Disabled Into Work. Welfare Weekly.

Thanks Enigma.

The Government’s ‘Nudge Unit’ team is currently working with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health, to trial social experiments aimed at finding ways of keeping or pushing sick and disabled people into work.

“These include GPs prescribing a work coach, and a health and work passport to collate employment and health information. These emerged from research with people on ESA, and are now being tested with local teams of Jobcentres, GPs and employers.”

This is a crass state intrusion on the private and confidential patient-doctor relationship, which ought to be about addressing medical health problems and supporting people who are ill. Not about creating yet another space for an over-extension of the coercive arm of the state to “help”people into work.

Of course the government haven’t announced this latest “intervention” in the lives of disabled people. I found out about it quite by accident, because I read Matthew Hancock’s recent conference speech: The Future of Public Services.

Hancock is the appointed Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, and was previously the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise. He headed David Cameron’s “earn or learn” taskforce which aims to have every young person earning or “learning” from April 2017.

He announced that 18- to 21-year-olds who can’t find work would be required to do work experience (free labour for Tory business donors), as well as looking for jobs or face losing their benefits. But then Hancock is keen to commodify everyone and everything – including public data.

This is the same (now part,or wholly – who knows, the chancers are always out to pocket another load of dosh), privatised, Nudge Unit which in May 2013 did this, (Huffington Post)

It attracted controversy earlier this week after it was revealed that one of its psychometric tests given to jobseekers gave the same results no matter how the applicant answered.

It was accused of being “patronising” by one charity, who said that young people will see through such manipulation, and that it will backfire on the DWP.

Charles Drew, the chief executive of Amber group, a charity which helps disadvantaged unemployed young people to gain the motivation and skills they need to get a job, told the Huffington Post UK: “They are dealing with unemployed young people who already know their failings. You can’t simply fool people into building self esteem. If young people know they are unsociable and answer truthfully, they will see through it.

Included are statements such as “I never go out of my way to visit museums,” “I have taken frequent stands in the face of strong opposition” and “I have not created anything of beauty in the last year.”

The test, first piloted in an Essex job centre before being rolled out to Middlesbrough, came under scrutiny after one blogger noticed it gave him the same ‘personality’ whatever he answered.

Here is another answer, from the Welfare Weekly piece: The Tory welfare “reforms” are a big business profiteering opportunity