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Programmes and Choices

So the soap opera continues.

I spoke to The Psychologist this morning and if she didn't get the message then the gods only know what she thinks.

To cut a long story short it seems that again more promises made turn out to be not quite as gold as once they glittered. Pluss is actually subcontracting, locally, for my dear old chums, Working Links! It's a postcode lottery, not much further south the Shaw Trust, whom I've spoken with before, are working on their behalf. What a tangled web they weaves with public money.

Work Choices itself sounds exactly the same as the Work Programme - which itself makes the same kinds of noises about helping people with health/mental health issues. Eight hours of weekly jobsearching was mentioned, which led me then to question how they are going to provide that if they can meet me locally. This was the reason I accepted Work Choices over the Work Programme; the ability to see me in a more convenient less austere location (something that Shaw Trust amongst others had managed to do before). Turns out that's not going to be possible. I met Shaw Trust in a local garden centre cafe; Pluss won't be that accommodating at all.

I found all this out myself by ringing them directly. Took me about half an hour. Meanwhile the DA still instist that she has to meet me personally to refer me to Work Choices (well that won't be happening). The Psychologist insists that she's being helpful, and round and round the carousel turns. Nothing moves forward, everything is thrown back at me and yet I'm the one the only one able to get the answers I need. You have to fight these people for every morsel of information about what they plan and how their schemes work - and then you have to verify it independently for yourself. I still don't understand why the DA - who isn't a doctor or a medical specialist or therapist - can override the recommendation of the DWP's own psychologist (who recommended Work Choices). I'm told the DA has the discretion to do so, but won't.

Well anyway it's Hobson's Choice: Work Choices or Work Programme. What's the difference? Of course we all know there isn't one. Both of these schemes will be the same, both of them will insist i spend time (8 hours pluss) looking for work which they will then compel me to apply for. The Psychologist is adamant that these are both flexible 'bespoke' schemes that are meant to be tailored in agreement with the customer for his benefit. But again that's just bollocks isn't it; we've all read enough anecdotes now to seriously call that into question. Of course the DWP and it's staff can't be seen to understand this and so the reality of these schemes - and whether they will be able to offer practical help not just compelling me to apply for everything and anything while forcing me to jobsearch for an arbitrary time period - is the elephant in the room.

How can you even set a time for jobsearching and insist, week in week out, on that being kept? I search and it takes as long as it takes. It's like asking how long is a piece of string and expecting a fixed measurement each time.

Meanwhile Maria 'killer' Miller, the disabled minister (lucky them!) closes down a bunch of Remploy factories. Whatever her reasons and however fervently this lunatic believes in them, I cannot fathom how putting a bunch of people out of work will help them. Again the logic of the Tories escapes me: it's the same crazy reasoning as applied to workfare - making people worse off somehow betters them. How are people, and people with disabilities in this case, now supposed to compete in the increasingly competitive labour market for fewer jobs. This sick and vile government have now lost all pretence to reason and compassion.

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