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Insultation

Government harassment continues unabated. There's this, apparently.

It is a strategy called, ironically, Improving Lives. It seems to be another effort by, ostensibly, the capitalist class, to prod and poke at the sick. It will, it seems, never end. I don't see any input from those it affects - as per usual. What does that tell us about these people? They can talk about us, over us and speak for us. But not once do they deem it necessary to actual ask us or even listen.
It sets out the steps government will take to transform disability employment over the next decade and progress so far as we build a country fit for the future. 
Steps that will of course not include any compulsion to employ people and treat them properly since that would immediately be shouted down as threatening profit. What does a country fit for the future look like? Is it built on the frozen corpses of the homeless, whose number has exploded in recent years? Is it built on the single mothers who starve to feed their kids? Is it built on foodbanks that are now running out of food while Tories claim prestige for opening them?

Is it built on the fucking stolen valour of soldiers who earned medals in war that now end up as baubles to adorn the fetishes of rich tax dodging Tory peers; to be bandied about on televised auction house game shows in an effort to bolster ego and image?

Let's try and find out.
Extending fit note certification beyond GPs to a wider group of healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists, psychiatrists and senior nurses, to better identify health conditions and treatments to help workers go back into their jobs faster. Fit notes are designed to help patients develop a return to work plan tailored to their individual needs.
Immediately I ask: what is the point of this? What does it matter how many more people are empowered to write 'fit' notes? They only lead the individual to the same point: the waiting area of the Work Capability Assessment office. At that point the note is irrelevant since the test doesn't look at what you can do and grade you accordingly, like some kind of medical GCSE (and just as pointless). Either you score the arbitrary 15 points, at which point you might make it into the support group, or you might as well score nothing (and likely will).

This makes a complete mockery of the notion of a fit note since, without ESA, you will need to sign for unemployment benefit (Universal Credit) and be treated as though you are in no way limited in what you can do. If you claim you are limited, well it doesn't take a genius to figure out what the consequence will be.

Even if you were to find a Work Coach, on Universal Credit in such circumstances, who accepted your limited conditionality, what difference would it make? Sooner or later you will still come up against the hurdle of conditionality: you will still be compelled to 'broaden your parameters'. This looks likely to be the remit of the DWP's infamous 'nudge' unit; the department tasked with managing your attitude to work. In other words you will be sent to Room 101 wherein Dr Psychobabble, some shamed therapist having given up on being an actual professional and thrown all scruples at the window, will tell you that you need to stop feeling sorry for yourself and take some responsibility. All the usual victim blaming crap I've spoken about before. Magic thinking self help guru bullshit. All designed to carefully distract from an imploding capitalist economy you, the claimant, have no control over.
2,000 work coaches have received training since 2015 to help them work with benefit claimants with mental health conditions. The government is committed to building on this with the introduction of an enhanced training offer developed with a national mental health charity.
This just trivialises mental health. How much training does a Work Coach receive? It takes longer than two years to learn to be a doctor, never mind this is the time they claim it's taken to get everyone up to speed. I guess it amounts to some vague notion of "don't mention suicide!" as if they were Basil Fawlty neurotic about some German guests.

The only thing this government is committed to is maximising the profits and minimising the support. If someone has a meltdown in front of their Work Coach what will happen? Will they be sanctioned or allowed to go home un-financially-molested? We know where this leads by looking at how the WCA works: if you have to attend on of those godforsaken offices as a sufferer of anxiety/depression (like yours truly, to pick a cloud out the sky :D), no allowances are made for your needs - even though there must be implicit acceptance of your condition - otherwise you wouldn't be there. But if you can't attend, or do and have to leave beforehand because you can't cope, that acceptance will do a complete volte face and you will be deemed to be a piss taker and...no more money for you. This is the very definition of doublethink: we accept you are ill, but if you act like it we will treat you as a malingerer or, worse, a conman.
£39 million investment to more than double the number of employment advisors in an existing NHS programme treating people with depression and anxiety disorders.
Um, what NHS programme? Does anyone know? I need to find out because no NHS source has ever told me about such a programme. At all. I may have to edit this if I find out.

Or is this referring to some co-DWP nudge unit bullshit, the sort I've just alluded to.
Responding in full to the 40 recommendations of the Stevenson/Farmer Review of mental health and employers – including reforming Statutory Sick Pay, improving advice and support for employers and encouraging transparency. The government is also encouraging other employers to take forward these recommendations.
This would be Paul Farmer, the compromised head of Mind who chose the DWP over his own service users and the mental health community. Only the other day he was bemoaning the lack of support for mental health from the budget. Quelle surprise Paul!


Over 5,000 companies have signed up to the Disability Confident scheme to promote disability inclusion and government is encouraging more companies to sign up.
Great, won't mean a thing. What power will a disabled individual have against an unscrupulous or exploitative employer - especially given the Tories have done their level best to diminish workers rights across the board, including access to tribunals?


Appointing an Expert Working Group on Occupational Health to champion, shape and drive a programme of work to take an in-depth look at the sector.
See what I just wrote about Paul Farmer. That's what this will be; another group of delusional third sector heroes who are either ignorant or arrogant enough to believe the DWP actually cares and won't screw over those they claim to represent.

It's all just the usual nonsense. They know people are angry, so let's get the great and the good to talk about and around those whose lives their decisions will impact, as if they were sitting up on Mount Olympus. Nothing will change because fundamentally what needs to change will be forever off the table. This is why we are the only people who can effect change. Even Labour are too scared to call for the utter abolition, the scrapping, of Universal Credit. It cannot be saved, must not be paused, and won't ever be fixed. Certainly not without further devastation. It should never have been born;destroy it and salt the earth from which it grew.
But the system does not work as well as it should, and employment outcomes for those on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are very low. We want to improve the contact we have with disabled people and those with health conditions, join up with health services, and achieve better outcomes and the right support for those who cannot work.
That's from the report itself (Page 16). Listen to this shit: the system doesn't work well - they claim (just not the way they think it should) - because only 4% are finding work (that's the figure referenced in the footnotes). That's because these are people that can't work! Why are they expected to secure work at all when they are ill? In other words, their aim isn't to support people who are ill, primarily at least in dealing with that reality, but pushing, nudging and compelling them into work. One way or another until eventually they either find work, dsiappear down a deep dark hole, or give up on their claim altogether.

What did I say above about training Work Coaches?
44. Work coaches currently undergo a three-week learning process and accreditation. This includes training on health conditions and disabilities, and how to tailor service delivery according to needs. Since the Green Paper we have rolled out new training for work coaches as part of the Health and Work Conversation (HWC). This new training builds skills of empathy, active listening, and helping people respond resiliently to challenges and overcome fixed beliefs about their abilities.
Three weeks to learn about, what would appear, not just mental health, but disability as a whole. Three fucking weeks! As if you were training to referee your local Saturday league soccer team. Here's your cards, here's your whistle, that's the offside rule, good luck!

And it includes training on health conditions and disabilities - almost mentioned that as a footnote!

Apparently these people have to learn how to be human beings, skilled in such foreign concepts as empathy, active listening, and helping people.

But what's that? Helping people respond resiliently: that's the nudge unit talking. That's the self help victim blaming crap. So nothing changes.
We will also look to further improve the quality of working relationships between work coaches and customers by exploring the use of a ‘Working Alliance’ measure, adapted from mental health services, to examine what factors improve or inhibit positive relationships, and how work coaches can be supported to foster them.
Now what on earth is a 'Working Alliance' measure? This is nothing I have ever seen that I'm aware of from any mental health service I know of.
However, there were differing views on what the core elements of employment support should be, including support for provision such as Individual Placement and Support (IPS), Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) and Peer Support. 
IAPT is basically the mindfulness/wellness advisor stuff I dealt with earlier this year. I know this because that is the phrase the 'wellness advisor' used to describe it. Needless to say it was no help at all. No support was offered, no diagnosis was undertaken, and all they were interested in was having me fill in a form each week to record my mood, deciding that, even a 1 point incremental shift in one category was enough to claim success, despite not actually doing anything.

IPS just sounds like nudgespeak for work related activity - in other words, having your Work Coach bully you into unpaid work at the likes of the Salvation Army or some other self aggrandising outfit.

The report is a lot longer and I'm not going through it piece by piece. The last part worth mentioning here is:
Supporting those furthest from the labour market (Support Group)
Our vision
70. We want everyone in the Support Group to have the opportunity to access personalised, tailored and practical employment support on a voluntary basis - when they want or need it.
People in the support group are those that can't work. They aren't 'farthest from the labour market'. Just listen to this language. They can't let it go. Sooner or later, no matter if you're dead or dying, you will be graded by this system in terms of your distance from the labour market under the assumption that distance can be closed; that some form of 'work related activity' can be performed.

You aren't worth anything to these people unless they can wrong a mote of profit from your withered ailing corpse it seems.

Wonderful.

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