DWP’s perfect scheme to do away with WRAG
Being disabled, I thought that the constant cycle of assessment, benefit reduction, appeal and benefit reinstatement was bad enough. However, DWP came up with another great idea that will help us get back into workplace:
People on sickness benefits will be required to have regular meetings with doctors, occupational health nurses and therapists to help them address their barriers to work – or face losing their benefit.
The pilot scheme, which will run between November 2013 and August 2016, looks like a desperate attempt to cover up the failure of the back to work schemes. The details are vague but it seems that it’s just another way of implementing sanctions. As many people’s conditions are intermittent, I am sure that will lead to many a missed appointment and the follow-up smear campaign in the papers: lazy benefit scroungers do not want to work.
I bet they will use the jumping to conclusions strategy that proved so fruitful during functional assessments. Having make-up and clean clothes on means you do not suffer from depression. Coming to the assessment on your own (because you have no support whatsoever) means you do not suffer from anxiety. Getting up quickly (because you are high on painkillers that come with so many warnings you shouldn’t even be responsible for tying your own shoelaces) means you never suffer any pain at all.
What could happen during such a meeting? There are no details, yet. I’m afraid they will turn into mini-medicals where you will have to explain thoroughly what you did and why not more. They might tell us we have entitlement issues, after all they know of other people with our condition who lead normal lives.
I can see them telling a claimant to do something small once a week (eg panic attacks – think about being in a busy shop and concentrate on your breathing) and then slowly increasing the pressure (stand outside the shop, go into the shop, move into the shop, become the shop) until they get the desired effect.
Claimant’s inability to carry out the instructions will result in sanctions. If they force themselves to do it at the cost of their health and well-being, they will subsequently be taken off ESA because they are no longer disabled.
Either way, that will save money (or so they think) and increase their popularity among the disempathetic fools who cannot imagine ever losing their job or their health or both. I very much doubt any of the initial 3000 people taking part in the pilot scheme will be still claiming benefits after the two years. Add to it some sneaky statistic-fiddling and IDS will have more miracles to his name than Our Lady of Lourdes.