Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Mental Health

Sanctions and Benefit Freeze Blamed for Rise in Food Banks Use and Growth in Mental Health Problems.

with 104 comments

From Ken,

Benefit sanctions are increasing hunger and depression not driving down unemployment

The UK is a fairly hostile environment to be unemployed, but some might say the approach is starting to pay off. After all, unemployment is currently at its lowest rate in 42 years, with 109,000 more people entering employment in the three months to April this year.

With numbers like that, some people might be wondering if aggressive tactics such as benefit sanctions are helping drive willfully unemployed people into gainful work.

Yet that is not what the public spending watchdog believes. Last year the National Audit Office – the independent body that monitors spending for Parliament – declared that benefit sanctions are inconsistently applied across the country and that withholding payments pushes claimants into hardship, increasing their chances of experiencing hunger and depression.

 Now, the latest report by Oxford University and the Trussell Trust food bank network has revealed that almost 80 per cent of food bank users had experienced food insecurity in the previous 12 months, meaning they could not buy enough food and/or had experienced entire days with nothing to eat.

The issue of price rises and insecure incomes are major factors in ‘food insecurity’.

The former justifies our call for an end to the benefits freeze.

The latter raises the issue of Universal Credit delays and Sanctions.

This is from the Report: Financial insecurity, food  insecurity, and disability: The profile of people receiving emergency food assistance from The Trussell Trust Foodbank Network in Britain  2017

  • Financial and food insecurity: Almost half of households reported their incomes were unsteady from week-to-week and month-to-month. 78% are severely food insecure (meaning they had skipped meals and gone without eating – sometimes for days at a time – in the past 12 months), while over half could not afford heating or toiletries
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  • Price rises: 3 in 5 households had recently experienced rising or unexpected expenses, with 25% of these saying higher food expenses were to blame, confirming the impact of food inflation on squeezed budgets
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  • Housing: 28% of those who had experienced rising expenses said this was due to housing costs, such as rent or energy, going up. Tenants in private housing were more likely to find it difficult to keep up with rents than socially rented properties
  • Disability and mental health: Over 50% of households included a disabled person, consistent with the definition used in national surveys. 75% experienced ill health in their household. Mental health conditions affected people in 1/3 of households
  • Debt: 1 in 3 households were finding it difficult to make minimum monthly repayments on outstanding loans, and nearly 1 in 5 in debt owed money to payday lenders
  • The report found people were experiencing multiple forms of destitution. 50% had gone without heating for more than four days in the past 12 months, 50% couldn’t afford toiletries, and 1 in 5 had slept rough in the last 12 months. Over 78% of households were severely, and often chronically, food insecure.
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Almost all households had experienced a drop in income in the past three months, unsteady incomes, or an unexpected expense or rise in expenses in the past three months.

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  • Benefit delays: Nearly 2 in 5 people were awaiting a benefit payment, with most of these waiting up to 6 weeks, though a fifth were waiting 7 weeks or more. A third of delays were for Employment Support Allowance payments, with people assessed as capable of taking steps to move into work in the future particularly at risk of needing a foodbank
  • Income shocks: 2 in 3 people had been hit by a recent ‘income shock’, with most experiencing sharp rises in housing costs or food expenses
  • Low income: The average income of households in the month before being referred to a foodbank was reported at around £320, with 20% of households still needing to pay housing costs. This falls well below low income thresholds, before and after housing costs, and is a fraction of the national average. 16% had no income at all in the last month
 Enigma adds this:

Government welfare cuts blamed for 50% surge in mental health issues among unemployed

Exclusive: Benefit freezes and sanctions ‘are having a toxic impact on mental health’

Rates of severe anxiety and depression among unemployed people have soared by more than 50 per cent in the last four years as the impact of “harsh” austerity policies take their toll, The Independent can reveal.

The UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) said the Government’s reforms of welfare payments were to blame for the rise, as benefit cuts and sanctions “are having a toxic impact on mental health”.

New analysis of data from NHS surveys of GP patients shows that in March 2017, 15.2 per cent of unemployed people said they suffered from severe or extreme anxiety or depression.

This figure has increased steadily from 10.1 per cent in June 2013, and marks a sharper jump than rates of the conditions among the general population, which rose 20 per cent over the same period, from 3.4 per cent of people to 4.1 per cent.

“The devastating impact of the benefits cap for families with children, the freezing of benefits at a time of inflation, and the cutting of benefits for the disabled are putting claimants under terrible mental and financial strain,” said Janet Weisz, the UKCP’s chief executive.

“The constant threat of benefit sanctions only adds to the pressure.”

The austerity measure, widely recognised as a key driver behind forecasts of rising poverty to come, is expected to reduce support by £13bn by 2020, above the Government’s forecast of £9bn, according to research from the House of Commons Library.

People claiming benefits can have their payments cut or stopped entirely if they miss one job centre appointment. The minimum sanction period was increased from one week to four in October 2012.

About a quarter of people on Jobseeker’s Allowance received at least one sanction between 2010 and 2015, according to the National Audit Office, which warned last year that the Department for Work and Pensions is not doing enough to find out how sanctions affect people on benefits.

These reports, signaled originally from the Independent, just about clinch the argument us lot have made here.

End the Benefits Freeze and the Sanctions Regime! 

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Written by Andrew Coates

July 17, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Joblessness Branded A ‘Mental Illness’: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Sanctions?

with 82 comments

Last year this was reported by Brian Wheeler on the BBC site. June 2015.

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.

But the Department for Work and Pensions said there was no evidence to back up the “highly misleading” claims.

The paper, published in the Medical Humanities journal, says benefit claimants are being forced to take part in positive thinking courses in an effort to change their personalities.

They are bombarded with motivational text messages – such as “success is the only option”, “we’re getting there” and “smile at life” – and have to take part in “pointless” team-building exercises such as building towers out of paper clips, it adds.

New benefit claimants are interviewed to find out whether they have a “psychological resistance” to work, with those deemed “less mentally fit” given more intensive coaching.

And unpaid work placements are increasingly judged on psychological results, such as improved motivation and confidence, rather than whether they have led to a job.

The report’s co-author, social scientist Lynne Friedli, described such programmes as “Orwellian”.

“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.

Then there was this:  Mental health workers protest at move to integrate clinic with jobcentre. July 2015.

Critics say plans for London clinic come dangerously close to government proposal to give psychological treatments to the unemployed.

Mental health workers and their clients marched on a jobcentre in south-west London in protest at a scheme they say frames unemployment as a psychological disorder.

The Department for Work and Pensions announced in March that Streatham’s jobcentre would be the first to have therapists giving mental health support to help unemployed people back into work.

The DWP has now said that announcement was a mistake. But by coincidence, next week Lambeth council will open a £1.9m mental health clinic in the same building.

There has been much discussion on this Blog and our fellow Bloggers’ sites on these ideas.

They include the reasons why unemployment is being rebranded as an ‘illness’ or a mental problem and how this “reprogramming” is going to take place.

Putting JobCentre advisers into GP surgeries is part of the same push.

This year they took a step forward in their plans,

Disabled activists are to march on a surgery next month in protest at its involvement in a government scheme that is placing welfare-to-work advisors from a discredited US outsourcing giant in GP practices.

Six surgeries in Islington, north London, are taking part in the year-long pilot scheme run and funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Islington council.

Under the Working Better scheme, job coaches employed by Remploy – which is now mostly owned by the US company Maximus – are placed in GP surgeries for one day a week.

Patients who are unemployed and have long-term health conditions can ask their GP to refer them to “intensive and personalised employment coaching” within the surgery.

The job coaches “work with patients to establish their previous work experience, knowledge and skills, to build confidence, set goals and identify job or educational opportunities”.

But activists from the Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) say the pilot scheme will destroy trust between doctors and their patients, particularly those with mental health conditions.

They are particularly alarmed at the involvement of Maximus, which already runs DWP’s work capability assessment system and has quietly secured a string of other lucrative DWP contracts.

MHRN, DPAC and other activists are planning a protest march on 4 March that will target City Road surgery, one of the six GP practices taking part in the pilot project.

Today the Morning Star is to be congratulated for publishing this important article.

Forcing the unemployed to undergo therapies they don’t want or blaming their attitude for their plight is totally unethical, write RUTH HUNT and LINDA GASK

ON MONDAY February 15 the Mental Health Task Force, in its latest report, recommended various measures to improve mental health services.

They were broadly welcomed, but one passage within the report caused much consternation: “Of people with mental and behavioural disorders supported by the work programme, only 9.5 per cent have been supported into employment … Employment is vital to health and should be recognised as a health outcome. The NHS should play a greater role in supporting people to find or keep a job.”

“Gaining employment” as a major indicator for people with mental health problems is a matter of great concern.

This is not the case for any other form of health problem. Furthermore, recent research published in BMJ Medical Humanities — Critical Medical Humanities suggests that unemployment is now being regarded as a psychological disorder within workfare schemes, with participants encouraged — or coerced — to think positively or to change their attitude.

Employment does have positive health outcomes, but if someone with a mental health diagnosis returns to work too early it can cause further problems. For example, there is always a risk that they will have problems managing in the work environment — which can lead at the very least to loss of confidence which will affect future ability to get back to work, and then to more serious consequences, including relapse. And there is always the risk that they and their employers will doubt they will ever be able to cope at the level of work they did previously, which will be very damaging to their future prospects.

We know that Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith wants to target those with mental illnesses, who are receiving Employment Support Allowance (ESA) with plans to force then to undergo treatment if they declare themselves unfit for work. The implication is that it is the attitude and motivation of these people that is at fault.

However, in cases of severe mental illness, it is extremely difficult to see how someone who is struggling with everyday life could be considered at fault if they did not have the “right attitude” or motivation to work. They may want to return to work, but the priority should be to help them to get to the optimal level of functioning, and then support them back to work. This has been shown to be effective and helpful.

Placing all responsibility on those suffering simply adds to the burden experienced and can contribute to relapse rather than recovery. This is what we have repeatedly seen when people are summoned to assessments and told that they are fit for work, when it is perfectly clear that they are not.

It is also clear that more effort needs to be invested in early help for people with mental health problems to ensure that they stay in work. This is promised in the Mental Health Task Force report. However pushing people into unsuitable jobs has been shown to be as potentially detrimental to mental health as the impact of unemployment.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) both person-to-person and online seems to be the main thrust of the treatment proposed. Presumably if the individual refuses they will be sanctioned. But for therapy to be effective a person has to be a willing participant.

There is no therapy that can “motivate” a person to find work unless they are able to consent to participate in it and well enough to actively engage. Online CBT has been shown to be ineffective for depression when offered without the support required to help and engage the participant. Therapy itself is not without side effects.

Furthermore, it’s difficult to see how requiring unemployed people to participate in such online “therapy” is going to have very much effect, completely aside from whether it’s ethical.

Improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) services are already faced with “back to work” targets but have managed to achieve them without therapy being too closely linked to assistance in getting a job. That’s great — but unemployment benefit savings were originally linked to funding IAPT because we were told this was the only way more psychological therapy could be funded. Now getting into work has become the key outcome in itself. We should be seeking to help people to recover from their mental health problems first.

There is always a danger when funding of anything is linked to targets that a person will be a) directed to therapy by benefits staff who have to meet targets — and, even worse, b) pushed towards work by healthcare workers whose funding is also dependent on this.

The rest of the article here.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 2, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Benefit Sanctions and Mental Health.

with 64 comments

Began Last Year and has got worse since…

Anybody with eyes and ears knows that there are a lot of people with mental health issues around.

Those who’ve been on the Work programme and the rest of the dreamt-up courses and schemes for the unemployed are probably aware that people with these difficulties are often shoved onto them, with no real consideration of what it means for them.

It seems that with many have been pushed off various benefits like Employment and Support Allowance (ESA ) onto JSA and all that means in terms of the above.

Anybody with an ounce of common sense can see that people with clinical depression, even just thoroughly down in the dumps, is likely to have a hard slog of it fulfilling all the criteria the out-of-work are meant to do.

Places like public libraries, not to mention the streets, are home to individuals either receiving some kind of treatment, or, with cuts in services, increasingly no help whatsoever.

Round here there’s been the endless saga of the ramshackle Suffolk and Norfolk Mental Health Trust.

This dates from June,

Revealed: Damning contents of staff report into problems within Norfolk and Suffolk’s mental health trust

Mental health staff told of feeling ‘helpless’, ‘disempowered’ and described their department as being ‘in chaos’ in a damning report, which raised serious concerns about the safety of patients they treat.

Now we have this (Thursday):

Mental health cuts ‘put lives at risk’

Cuts to adult mental health services in England have started damaging the quality of care given to patients, a report suggests.

The review by the King’s Fund think tank found there was now “widespread evidence of poor quality care”.

Researchers linked this to the use of unproven, cheaper services in a bid to balance the books.

One mental health charity says “disappearing” services are putting lives at risk.

But the government said the amount of money being made available for mental health had been increased overall.

The review also pointed to growing evidence that there was inadequate support for those with severe problems.

It said only 14% of patients had reported receiving appropriate care in a crisis, while hospital bed occupancy rates were routinely exceeding recommended levels – leading to patients being sent to units many miles away from their home.

On the same day we learnt this:

Benefit sanctions against people with mental health problems up by 600 per cent

Reports the Independent.

The number of benefit sanctions imposed on people with mental health problems has increased by over 600 per cent over the last four years, Department for Work and Pensions statistics show.

A joint analysis of the figures by the Independent and the mental health charity Mind found that 19,259 people with such conditions had their benefits stopped under sanction in 2014-15 compared to just 2,507 in 2011-12 – a 668 per cent rise.

The finding comes weeks after ministers rejected a call to investigate whether such sanctions – which involve stopping a person’s disability benefit income for weeks at a time to enforce compliance – are damaging to mental health.

The ramping up of the policy goes against the advice of mental health charities, who have previously warned that its aggressive approach worsens mental health problems and makes it harder for people to return to work.

Tom Pollard, policy and campaigns manager at Mind, said the dramatic rise was “alarming” and that the Government was refusing to listen to criticism of the sanctions’ impact.

“Stopping somebody’s benefits, or threatening to stop them, is completely the wrong approach to help people with mental health problems find work – it’s actually counterproductive. Pressurising someone to engage in often inappropriate activities under the threat of losing their benefit causes a huge deal of additional anxiety, often making people more unwell and less able to work,” he told the Independent.

Are these two articles related?

Yes.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 13, 2015 at 5:13 pm

Iain Duncan Smith Announces Plans for more Misery for Claimants as Mental Health Targeted.

with 19 comments

IDS: Having as a Laugh at Claimants’ Expense. 

Iain Duncan Smith is planning a shake-up of the rules on sickness benefit to encourage more people into work.

Announces the BBC.

The work and pensions secretary will argue in a speech that the current system is too “binary” – with claimants deemed either fit or unfit for work.

Instead, claimants should be made to take up any work they can, even if it is just a few hours, he will say.

Labour says cutting benefits for people who are not able to work is punishing the disabled for government failures.

But Mr Duncan Smith insists that the “most vulnerable people in our society” will be protected under his latest reforms.

‘Mental Health’. 

His speech, in London, will not contain any policy announcements but aims instead to start a “conversation” about the next phase of welfare reform, according to DWP officials.

Mr Duncan Smith will be focusing on the Employment Support Allowance, which is paid to those unable to work on health grounds. Those who receive the payment have their fitness to work tested under the Work Capability Assessment.

He believes those assessments should be more personalised, so if someone is able to work for a few hours they are helped to do so.

“It is right that we look at how the system supports people who are sick,” he will say.

Mr Duncan Smith argues that instead of an “either or” assessment, what is needed is “a system focused on what a claimant can do and the support they’ll need, and not just on what they can’t.”

He will add: “Nearly 11 million adults in the UK have a common mental health condition and people are much more likely to fall out of work if they do.

“We also know that being out of work for four weeks or more can actually effect people’s mental health, even if the original reason for ill health was a physical one.”

These, the Independent observes, are 7 ways Iain Duncan Smith has “helped” the disabled so far.

  • Closing Remploy factories
  • Scrapping the Independent Living Fund
  • Cut payments for the disabled Access To Work scheme
  • Cut Employment and Support Allowance
  • Risk homelessness with a sharp increase disability benefit sanctions
  • Sending sick people to work because of broken fitness to work tests
  • The bedroom tax

Call for Safeguards for People with Mental Illness on Benefits.

with 11 comments

Do not attack the Vulnerable.

This letter, reproduced by Welfare Weekly, should be followed widely.

What is happening in Rochdale is happening all over the country.

Every day I see people with serious mental health issues in the public library – many doing ‘Jobsearch. I would guess that amongst those begging in the streets of Ipswich a high proportion have these problems as well.

On courses for the Work Programme I have been with people who have extreme psychological problems.

In one case, an individual, well known in Ipswich, with numerous restraining orders on him, was on one of these so-called courses designed to make people ’employable’.

With tightening rules for Job Seekers, and  the pressure on everybody, the most vulnerable are bound to be hit.

Even the cheeriest of us have days when we don’t want to follow the so-called 35 hours rule: we knuckle down….

Anybody with depression will be simply incapable of doing this, let alone those suffering from other types of disorder.

 This is a monstrous injustice.

They have ‘freed’ people from confinement, and serious treatment, and now expect them to conform to their ‘Panoptican’ (all-seeing) surveillance.

Dear Elected Representative [s],

Could we the undersigned please take this opportunity to thank you for the excellent ongoing support you have given to people with mental health issues in the past.

Today we would like to draw your attention, if we may, to two pressing issues relating to people with mental health issues in Rochdale, Middleton & Heywood in the hope that you can both pledge your continued support to members of our mental health Service Users community, many of whom face great distress and anxiety over some elements of the governments Welfare Reform process.

 

Foremost in our minds is our growing concern that the proposed £31 MILLION pounds in cuts to Public Services at Rochdale Council which will without doubt impact disproportionately on vulnerable people with mental health issues, as well as many others within the wider community, that such cuts will have a massive direct impact upon.

Secondly we are deeply concerned that 100 people a day with mental health problems are having their Welfare benefits sanctioned – stopped for periods of time – by the Department of Work & Pensions [DWP]. These sanctions have a massive impact on people already struggling with periods of unemployment. But as I am sure you will all be very aware the impact on people already struggling with mental health issues can be catastrophic.

We’d like to draw your attention to latest report from New Economy that records the latest DWP sanctions figures made available for the period 22 October until the 31 December 2013. These statistics lists Rochdale Job Centre, Fleece Street as having the third highest rate for sanctioning benefit claimants in the whole of Greater Manchester. Of the 4,078 people being sanctioned at Rochdale Job Centre 40% were sanctioned without being told why these sanctioned were imposed by Claimant Advisers.

Locally the figures break down at:

  • Rochdale Job Centre Plus, Fleece Street – 4,078
  • Middleton Jobcentre Plus – 1,484
  • Heywood Job Centre Plus, Taylor Street – 972

A total of 6534 in all. Across the Greater Manchester, the Manchester East & West area had 24,072 “adverse” sanctions. Of these the majority by far were in the 18-24 year age group totalling 246, 592 individuals. With 91,603 in the 25-29 year old age group.

Most worryingly across the whole of the United Kingdom there were 49,827 disabled people who were sanctioned by the DWP.

We are also firmly of the belief that:

Sanctioning someone with a mental health problem for being late for a meeting is like sanctioning someone with a broken leg for limping“, as well as being deeply worried at the latest DWP proposals to class Sanctioned Jobseekers with mental health issues as NOT “vulnerable” unless they have an accompanying physical health problem, as [reported] by Welfare Weekly,

RelatedSanctioned Job Seekers with Mental Health Problems are not vulnerable says DWP

Currently people suffering the most severe mental illnesses are likely to receive Employment and Support Allowance [ESA] and it is estimated that 23% of JSA claimants have a mental health condition.

Related: Mind ‘Extremely Concerned’ Over Benefits Sanctions Revelation

Could we urge you to make public representations on our behalf to Rochdale Council, to express our profound concerns at the proposed levels of cuts to services as well as to please ask the Department of Works & Pensions directly what guidelines they have in place to safeguard claimants with mental health issues, and the exact definition they use to identify those local claimants with mental health issues.

Your help with this would be very much appreciated by all of us. We would also very much welcome the opportunity to send a delegation of our newly relaunched Mental Health Campaign Group members to meet with you personally at your earliest convenience that suits you to discuss these serious issues of concern to us. Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

  • RACHEL GINNELLY – CEO, Rochdale Borough Users Forum Chief Executive Office
  • MICK AYTON – Voice Programme Coordinator
  • RYAN COWAN – Chair, RBUF Board of Trustees
  • MIKE JONES – Vice Chair RBUF Board of Trustees
  • DANIEL – RBUF Technical Assistant
  • NISBA – Project Assistant for RBUF
  • ALAN TICE – RBUF Member
  • STEVE TOMLINSON – RBUF Office Volunteer
  • PETER WILDMAN – RBUF Mental Health Trainer / RBUF Rep
  • SARAH HARPER – RBUF Office Volunteer
  • Larissa Marshall – RBUF Service User
  • ANDREW WASTLING – Chair, Mental Health Campaigns Group
  • YASMIN KENYON – RBUF Housing & Homeless Rep
  • PETER WILDMAN – RBUF Mental Health Trainer / RBUF Rep
  • RASHIDA JORDAN – RBUF Service User / Volunteer
  • DONNA HOMES – RBUF Service User / Blue Pits Band
  • RICHARD OUTRAM – Policy & Research Adviser Liberal Democrat Group
  • DR. JAMES MC CREADY – OL12 9RZ
  • VAL PUSLOW – OL10 4SG
  • MARK HOLDEN – OL11 1JZ
  • NATASHA KIRBY – Rochdale Solutions – OL16
  • KATHTYN RENNIE -Rochdale Possibilities
  • AZFAR MAHMOOD- OL11 1FW
  • NICK ROGERS – M5 4LW
  • TONY GILL – OL16 5QJ
  • MIKE MOORES – OL16 3DN
  • MICHELLE CLEGG – OL11 2AW
  • BILL JACOBS – M24 2UU
  • SUSAN TURNER – REAG/ Cornerstone – OL2 7PY
  • JOHN CALLAGHAN – RBUF Service User

Written by Andrew Coates

August 14, 2015 at 3:34 pm

Call for DWP Death Statistics will Not Go Away with ‘Start Smiling Again’.

with 84 comments

DWP Funded Answer to People with Mental Health Problems.

Release the Death Statistics on Benefit Cuts to Show Their Full Impact

Mark Sivier. Huffington Post.

Following last week’s budget announcement of £12billion in benefit cuts, how many people will die as a result? Dramatic as it may sound, there is already solid evidence that deaths directly correlate to the harsh family benefits caps like those the government plans to introduce. But that evidence is being hushed up. And you can help it become public by signing the petition I’ve set up on Change.org, which appeals for its release.

I’m asking Iain Duncan Smith to stop blocking the publication of these death statistics from the past four years, which reveal how many people have died within six weeks of their benefits being stopped.

Between January and November 2011, 10,600 people died while claiming Employment and Support Allowance. Some, of course, would have sadly died anyway because they were ill or because – put bluntly – people die. Analysis showed that 1,300 of those deaths were in the ‘Work Related Activity Group’ – those expected to be well enough to return to work within a year. It’s false to say – as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has – that the link between deaths and benefit cuts is tenuous.

The DWP has thought of all sorts of reasons not to release the post-2011 death statistics. Initially, they claimed the request would create an undue burden on its time and resources. This was later disproven when it admitted it could indeed provide some of the information within the Freedom of Information request cost limit of £600. Then, they said they were planning to publish the information at an unspecified time in the future – and only recently revealed that this was not true – the information to be released would show the deaths as a ratio, not the actual number of deaths that have occurred.

(see link above for full story).

Perhaps this is part of their response:

A Wales-based company is partnering with the Department for Work and Pensions to roll out an initiative in South Wales job centres. to get people with mental health problems back into work.

The ‘Press Pause to Play’ programme was piloted in Swansea towards the end of last year, helping people with anxiety and depression through a combination of psychology, physiology and neuroscience.

Run by a specialist stress and anxiety management company, the programme reportedly saw 50% of participants successfully run to work.

By partnering with the Department for Work and Pensions, the company – ‘Start Smiling Again’ hope to achieve similar results across Wales by rolling the programme out to a number of job centres in South Wales.

This is the Start Smiling Company.….

Welcome

Hi, I’m David Rahman, Harley Street Therapist, founder of Start Smiling Again and creator of the revolutionary Blueprint Therapy & Coaching. By visiting this website today, you have already taken that first important step towards regaining health, happiness and the confidence to live the life you deserve.

Anyone can suffer debilitating stress, anxiety and depression at any time. Nobody chooses to experience these illnesses, but when it happens to you, it can seem that there will never be a light at the end of the tunnel; that you will always feel the way you do right now. You may have unsuccessfully undergone therapy before; you may have read self-help books or seen GPs and specialists only still to be left misunderstood and without the help you need.

This is the kind of stuff the DWP is now funding (from David Rahman’s Facebook page Believe in yourself – – it’s not made up):

Fail. Then Win.

Hi, David!

How’s it goin’ Dude!

Hi, bloody Hi!

Written by Andrew Coates

July 16, 2015 at 4:16 pm

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

with 51 comments

https://irevolution.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/picture-33.png?w=468&h=285

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.

Extracts:

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

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.