Government #Disablism Discrimination in Action

This week a woman not known for her timidity, admitted how a non-disabled man had used his presence and the environment to disempower her; I’m referring to Dame Anne Begg and the she interview gave to the BBC. In the Daily Record Dame Anne is quoted as saying “Iain Duncan Smith took to standing behind me during Prime Minister’s Questions. He stood at what’s called the Bar of the House and occasionally he would lean on my wheelchair…Our working relationship was slightly fraught anyway because I’d been critical of him a lot. I wanted to keep that criticism a professional criticism, not a criticism of him as a person so I never quite built up the courage to actually say: ‘Please don’t do that.’” Dame Anne also was recorded as having explaining how “she would normally reproach people who invaded her personal space but she let him off“.

This is an excellent example of how competent, intelligent, and independent disabled people not only experience prejudice – as people either knowingly or subconsciously, use their bodies, words or actions to oppress us; but how this actively exasperates and diminishes us.

It is no coincidence I use this example with IDS being the perpetrator, as it is again his department, the DWP, I am discussing today. In November last year I introduced you to Burt, who with our support at DEAEP was transferred from WRAG to the support group last December; since then Burt has received up to three letters a month plus texts reminding him of his “Back to Work” appointments! Each month Burt has responded to each letter with a phone call saying “but I’m in the Support Group”, he has received an apology and a promise to rectify this from each call; yet it has continued.

Burt is a former career soldier who fought in wars all over the world, until being retired out with a crushed spine and severe PTSD, amongst other conditions, all contracted during his service.  He isn’t a naturally timid man, he loved his Army life and willingly gave everything to “Queen & Country”, as his service record and the plethora of photographs and awards proudly displayed in his lounge demonstrate; and yet the persistent harassment he has experienced from the DWP in the past 2 years has left him joyless, feeling without purpose and literally unable to complain.

As Dame Anne alluded to regarding IDS, his actions which amount to bullying in my opinion, makes it difficult if not impossible to positively challenge the perpetrator(s); and this is the situation Burt is in. Personally I can totally relate to this, and would suggest many readers and other claimants can also. It is these dismissive attitudes and continuous intimidation by the DWP that creates the ‘Brown envelope Syndrome’, so well recognised by those of us unfortunate enough to claim benefits; it is also this oppression, and misuse of positions of power, that has contributed to the deaths of many us.

How much worse this is going to get following the closure of ILF and a budget, which I believe initiates the removal of WRAG? Being forced to deal with increasing poverty is physically and psychologically damaging enough without having to deal with this prejudice and discrimination from the DWP.

I find this particularly ironic that jobseekers (presumably including those who would have been placed in WRAG)  are being mandated to participate in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), which claims to Stop negative thought cycles; I can’t help but think IDS, his ministers and the staff at DWP would benefit far more from CBT than claimants?

After forced-psychometric-test debacle, now Jobcentres offer online CBT

Last year I reported how the DWP were planning a new scheme aimed at depression sufferers with  “Hundreds of thousands of benefit claimants face being stripped of their state allowances if they refuse to undergo treatment for anxiety and depression

Today the SKWAWKBOX pick up the latest on this dangerous and futile programme….

 

Last year, the SKWAWKBOX triggered a severely-embarrassing chain of events for the government by revealing that the DWP’s Jobcentre Plus (JCP) centres, under instruction from David Cameron’s ‘Nudge Unit’ (read: psychological-manipulation), were forcing unemployed people, under threat of immediate loss of benefits, to take un-validated and dangerous ‘psychometric tests’ without ‘informed consent’ and, quite possibly, illegally in more ways than one. We also revealed a nudge-unit ‘front’ masquerading as a bona fide psychological institution.

It turned out that these tests were so poorly and cynically constructed that they gave the same ‘results’ to those completing them regardless of the answers entered – or even if the test was completed without entering any answers at all. The test had been taken –without permission – from a US psychologist linked to torture techniques such as waterboarding. (The author then objected to the unethical use of the test by the UK government!)

Once exposed, both government departments tried desperately to deny what they were doing, but then contradicted themselves more than once, then inadvertently admitted it again. The government claimed that the tests were a trial in just a few areas that had since been discontinued, but this was then shown not to be the case. Claims that the test had been designed and implemented by ‘experts’ turned out to be false and the ‘training’ given to JCP operatives on how to decide who should complete the test turned out to be ‘an informal chat’.

National newspapers started to take up the story and the British Psychological Society even became involved, investigating the psychologist responsible, at least notionally, for the decision to conduct the enforced-test programme.

You would think the government would have learned its lesson, but no.

An article on the ‘Same Difference’ blog reveals that Jobcentre Plus staff are sending people diagnosed with depression a link to an online CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) course, claiming not that it might be helpful but that it will cure their depression. Or, in their words:

Beating the blues is just a click away

Read the original article for an image of the ad and link.

CBT is widely used to treat various mental disorders, including depression. But it is generally meant to be conducted in person by a trained professional. Its effectiveness is, however, widely disputed and studies have shown that CBT consisting of ‘self-help’ reading of materials by the patient produce harmful results.

The therapy has also been heavily criticised because it is built around maintaining the status quo – in other words, getting people to feel better about situations that it would be perfectly rational to dislike, feel depressed about or want to change.

And nobody, as far as I know, would claim CBT will ‘beat’ depression. Especially with ‘just a click’.

This latest move is perfectly in line with the government’s already-evidenced desire to get us all to acquiesce to things that we should fight and with its contempt and callousness toward ordinary, disadvantaged people.

But not at all in line with a genuine concern for the well-being of people who are unemployed, suffering from mental illness or both.

Mental health groups will, rightly, be outraged – but could someone in the mainstream media please run with this and give yet another DWP scandal the attention it so obviously deserves?

(There are too many posts on the original DWP ‘test’ to reference in this one article. If you want to read the rest, please use the search function and enter ‘psychometric’.)

Here We Go Again – DWP to Repeat the ATOS Disaster ?

I’m sure I’m not alone in being totally unsurprised, albeit sick to my stomach at the latest revelation to be leaked from Tory proposals for Benefits, the drastic cutting of  ESA; it appears that new claimants placed in  WRAG will only receive 50 pence a week more than JSA. This has led me to wonder if this extreme reduction has anything to do with the increase in the number of people claiming out of work sickness or disability benefits?

The fact the cut was ‘leaked’ on the same day, and to the same source as the claim, Maximus will be the company taking over the contract from ATOS, also leaves me unsurprised. I can imagine the key players from DWP and Maximus sitting around the table and plotting this decimation of ESA as a part of the contract. The key aim of Welfare Reform has always been to slash Benefits, irrespective of need, and now seemingly wants to privatise all out of work benefits; therefore given Maximus’ existing  involvement in running the Work Programme, and the new Health and Work programme  this pairing seems a perfect match.

However when John Pring initially suggested, Maximus was the preferred bidder to replace ATOS, he also revealed the company’s “chilling” record of incompetence, discrimination and alleged fraud“. Thinking back to when ATOS was initially awarded the contract for WCAs, there were similar concerns around the unsuitability of ATOS, and we all know the outcome of that appointment.

It appears the DWP have completely failed to learn from the ATOS debacle and is planning to enter into another disastrous contract with a seemingly corrupt company, all for Corporate Greed.  Further the DWP seems to be continuing the rhetoric of  blaming us being ill; refusing to acknowledge their attacks on poorest and most vulnerable people through both the continuing  scapegoating and their discriminatory Policies, are in any way responsible.

The ‘leaking’ of these two announcements today suggest the DWP are maintaining their insidious behaviour, softly ensuring their plans emerge into the public psyche in an attempt to build public support:

‘the poorest people are choosing the higher paying benefit to avoid looking for work, because  they are lazy, the DWP are doing the majority a favour by stopping these idlers take the easy option, and are bringing in a company who will stamp this out’

What can we can fight back against this? Johnny Void suggests we gather the information necessary to take Maximus out of the picture and I agree; but I also believe we need to demonstrate WHY sick and disable people need the extra money to survive, lets collect your stories that demonstrates precisely what we do with the difference between JSA and ESA, because if we don’t – We Will Lose it!

 

Imagine – IDS On The Couch; his Anger and Lies

Two separate issues this week have apparently left IDS & co ‘Furious‘ and ‘incandescent‘ and rather then cover what has been brilliantly summarised by Nick at Ilegal.org. I suggest you visit the site.

The events leading to these outbursts also left me outraged and in my capacity as a qualified Counsellor, I decided to attempt a cathartic exercise and consider  just what would happen if IDS was a client.

 

Case Notes – Client IDS/07/07/14  Session – 1.

IDS is experiencing  frequent and severe Anger episodes; his job causes him to justify himself and respond to questions,  it is on these occasions he experiences these outbursts. (Video evidence is plentiful). He is responsible for managing vital projects with major outcomes for the recipients, and he believes those affected require punishment rather than reward to engage

I am concerned on several levels:

– the frequency of  the episodes are putting his physical health at risk – Dr Elizabeth Mostofsky, from Harvard School of Public Health, “Although the risk of experiencing an acute cardiovascular event with any single outburst of anger is relatively low, the risk can accumulate for people with frequent episodes of anger“.

– it is damaging his professional relationships; the anger results in him making statements that cannot be quantified (in deed there is evidence many of these statements are false). He displays a tendency to enter into Rationalization  and character assassination when challenged. (Is he a Bully?)

– the manner he delivers  these statements is further harming relationships with colleagues,  (he is prone to sarcasm and appears to suffer from denial when challenging with facts)

When probed IDS appears to believe what he says (supporting the early suggestion of denial) he refuses to accept all evidence to the contrary outright (the anger manifests immediately). He maintains people affected  by his work are at fault for requiring his services and is determined to penalise them into submission. (this ‘belief’ suggests attributional anger)

Conclusion – Given his position (and video evidence) I wonder if IDS is a Narcissist, (although currently incapable of  empathy); his persistent denial of facts and subsequent distortion of truth (supported by the well documented ‘creation” of his cv) raises the question of him being a pathological liar ?

IDS displays 5 of the 8 characteristics of  Antisocial Personality Disorder:

  • Unstable interpersonal relationships.
  • Disregard for the consequences of their behaviour.
  • A failure to learn from experience.
  • Egocentricity.
  • A disregard for the feelings of others.

which leads me to the opinion – Referral to Psychiatry as a matter of urgency.

 

If this post resonates with you – Join the TRUTH Campaign Today – #NOWPetition #ImpeachDWP

 

 

Time For The Truth

I’ve discussed the behaviour of the DWP misusing Statistics on several occasions, from our successful petition asking the Welfare & Pensions Select to investigate these actions, to the introduction of  the newly formed single fraud investigation service, (SFIS), allegedly costing £140 millionThe misrepresentation of information is how different Politicians have repeatedly spoken on Welfare Reform, they have persisted with their interpretations even after the UK Statistics Authority have refuted it.

The Governments rationale behind such conduct certainly indicates their increasing use of  psychological coercion with various Departments insisting, their version of data is correct rejecting all alternate information and separate opinions, they have devised rules that control the topics they determine permissible to discuss, and all communication is highly controlled.

A recent example of this was the development of  SFIS a cross Government strategy to reduce fraud and error”. I’ve previously considered the validity of the DWP’s claim, this group was established to save money, but with One Billion Pound being spent to reduce the cost of Fraud & Error, when the total annual amount lost  is One Billion Pound, this seems highly unlikely? The official press release from the DWP quoted Lord Freud’s claims “Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support fraud and error overpayments are at their lowest recorded levels.” Yet looking closer at this claim we find Council Tax data is no longer included in DWP figures, the responsibility has shifted to Local Authorities and this Tax is equivalent to  “2% of overall welfare expenditure” which is the difference  in Fraud and Error pre the inception of SFIS.

This example fulfils both the definition of  psychological coercion above and as used by Dr Lynne Friedli in her claim, Government uses such  to ‘formulate and gain consent for the current regime of welfare reform’. Friedli also discusses how psychological coercion affects the way both claimants feel about themselves and those not claiming benefits view others; this becomes even more relevant when the misuse of data by Government is reported verbatim by the media, as it reinforces the principles and purpose behind programmes like SFIS.

The incessant use of psychological coercion has multiple negative affects, it results in the recipient becoming “confused, intimidated and silenced by actions accepted as harmful, such as uncompromising influence, involuntary servitude, and infliction of emotional distress“; it leaves us “compliant” and ultimately brainwashed. Interestingly The Home Office already includes coercive control as an element of abuse, but only as it applies to domestic violence.

The fact the Government’s Department responsible for Law, recognises the damage of psychological coercion, is an irony not to be lost, as we continue to struggle against the gamut of detrimental Policies and daily rhetoric of  media coercion; nor should the paradox of the Government’s attempts to catch people allegedly falsely claiming benefits, whilst using falsified data to justify the expense.

Time For The Truth?

 

 

Weasels

Weasels From the Amazing @juxtaposed – Enjoy

Half a ton of faecal advice
Half a ton of Sméagol
That’s the way the government goes
Outcrop of weasels

Fast and fat the parasites grow
Addicts love the treacle
That’s the way the hosts are betrayed
Blank cheque for weevils

In and out Conservatives rush
Sleight-of-hand and bluster
That’s the way the blue army goes
Tricks of a hustler

All along the concubine road
Turncoats lie spread-eagled
That’s the way the Lib Demmers go
Pimped and enfeebled

Here and there a ‘socialist’ squeaks
Scared of its own shadow
That’s the way the half-hearted play
Pop! goes an M. O.

Round and down the plug hole we go
Alice found a needle
That’s the way the money goes
Drained from the People

Everything the idiots bring
Is tainted, spun and crafted
That’s the way the weasels prey
Pop! we are shafted.

 

The REAL Agenda behind Benefit Fraud Campaigns – With Spending -UPDATE

In my original post on the topic I argued that given the DWP admit “It is only a small minority who commit fraud“ Freud 03/01/2014; so surely these campaigns, which given the fairly constant level of estimated fraud don’t work, seem to be a case of overkill? That is unless you take a slightly more cynical view of the whole situation – If the Government was truly concerned with fraud,  wouldn’t a different, more efficiently way of managing it, have been designed by now; and, wouldn’t we have actual statistics, rather than than over 8 years of  ’around £1 billion’  estimates??

I also discussed how much the DWP had spent on these campaigns over the past 3+ years, and how much the budget for this latest reinvention is; I’ve now received a reply to my FOI request :

Expenditure for campaigns                                       Year Campaign Total amount

2010/11 Targeting Benefit Thieves                                                     £26,118
2011/12 Targeting Benefit Thieves                                                     £82, 605
2012/13 none                                                                                      Nil
2013/14 Benefits. Are you doing the right thing?                                £188,003  (forecast only)

So from the FOI we presume in the past 3 years the coalition have spent £296,726?

Well No! The February edition of Touchbase the DWP Newsletter for ‘advisers, intermediaries and other professionals’ has this announcement “The Government has announced the launch of a single fraud investigation service (SFIS), to tackle all welfare benefit fraud…  investing an extra £140 million to deliver savings of over £2.3 billion by cutting the amount of money that is loss through fraud, error and debt”.

This is on top of the current forecast of £188,003, as the DWP was expressly clear this amount was for the “Are you doing the right thing” campaign only! Which, in REAL terms means an extra £140,000 over 18 months (Oct 16 -Mar 16)

This is a huge amount of money from a Government who persistently tell us, we as a nation are broke; so remember when you read in the press or the  internet, hear on the radio or watch on TV how this is to SAVE £1 billion ‘lost’ in the past year because other people are ‘cheating Stop & Think –  might this the is the same £1 billion that’s been lost for the past 8 years or more??

CHECK OUT the latest Data from ilegal.org  ‘Fit for work or fit to drop’, Over quarter of a million deaths relating to sickness benefit claims?

The REAL Agenda behind Benefit Fraud Campaigns?

Today January 3 2014 is the official start of the latest Divide & Rule Strategy from the boys at DWP; Freud is the spokesman of this new ‘softer’ approach to the proven futile Benefit Fraud Campaign.

So how is the latest ‘reinvention going to differ – there are 6 pilot areas with “posters, newspaper adverts, Facebook adverts and letters to claimants – urging people to report suspected benefit fraud or changes to their circumstances”; it seems at a quick glance this campaign is aimed at ensuring claimants understand what they need to report to DWP and when – not much wrong with that then? Until you look at the second example which is the same old rhetoric – report anyone you don’t like/is on benefits/you don’t ‘believe is disabled etc to DWP and all for FREE – yes one of the few 0800 Numbers the DWP still has is… to enable any vigilante wannabe!!

Before anyone decides I’m arguing we live in a perfect world where nobody ever tries to cheat I ask you to investigate the ‘Facts‘ (as we have them) around this –

  • 0.7%, or £1.2 billion, of total benefit expenditure is overpaid due to fraud
  • 0.9%, or £1.6 billion, of total benefit expenditure is overpaid due to claimant error
  • 0.4%, or £0.7 billion, of total benefit expenditure is overpaid due to official error

Interestingly these are ALL ‘estimates’ for 2012/14, it also must be noted these ‘estimates’ have remained relatively static since 2005!

Even the DWP admit “It is only a small minority who commit fraud” Freud 03/01/2014; so surely these campaigns, which given the fairly constant level of estimated fraud don’t work, seem to be a case of overkill? That is unless you take a slightly more cynical view of the whole situation – If the Government was truly concerned with fraud,  wouldn’t a different, more efficiently way of managing it, have been designed by now; and, wouldn’t we have actual statistics, rather than than over 8 years of  ‘around £1 billion’  estimates??

Isn’t it just as likely that All governments consider the level of concern and worry ‘fraud’, and other associated anti-social, or even illegal behaviours people are often coerced into create amongst the public, a small price to pay from the overall national budget? The anxiety and anger such actions create, offers Politicians another ‘reason’ to continue utilising psychological coercion as a way to manage us, the people. While the Government can cause individuals to mistrust their neighbours. colleagues, friends, or even family, repeatedly using the same message year on year –  how so many others ‘cheating’ the system are the real reasons our Taxes, bills, mortgages are so high; surely they’ll continue to do so? It’s so much easier to continue manipulating the system to benefit those who have the most power, and therefore £; when the majority believe their personal resources are limited, because their peers are deceitful.

Given all of the above I couldn’t help but wonder how much the DWP had spent on these campaigns over the past 3+ years, and how much the budget for this latest reinvention is; to this end I posted a FOI request this morning – I’ll keep you posted. Until then, when you read in the press or the on internet, hear on the radio or watch on TV how around £1 billion has been ‘lost’ in the past year because other people are ‘cheating’; stop and think is this the is the same £1 billion that’s been lost for the past 8 years or more??

The just world fallacy

A Joint Post with Sue Jones inspired by Lynne Friedli & Robert Stearn  in their post “Whistle while you work…”

 

The Tories now deem anything that criticises them as “abusive”. Ordinary campaigners are labelled “extremists” and pointing out flaws, errors and consequences of Tory policy is called “scaremongering”. Language and psychology are a powerful tool, because the use of this kind of  “pre-programs”  sets the terms of any discussion or debate. It also informs you what you may think, or at least, what you need to circumnavigate in order to state your own account or case. This isn’t simply name-calling or propaganda: it’s a deplorable and tyrannical silencing technique.
The government have a Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), which is comprised of both behavioural psychologists and economists, which apply positivist (pseudo)psychological techniques to social policy. They produce “Positive psychology’”courses which the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) are using to ensure participants find satisfaction with their lot; the DWP are also using psychological referral with claims mandatorily being reconsidered by civil servant “decision makers”, as punishment for non-compliance with the new regimes of welfare conditionality, to which people claiming out of work benefits are subject.These “Positive Psychology’”courses, and the use of psychological referral as punishment are examples of the (mis)application of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy  (CBT).
CBT is all about making a person responsible for their own thoughts and how they perceive events and experiences, and can be used to empower people. But used in this context,  we are seeing the “responsibilisation” of poverty, with claimants being blamed for not having a job or for being ill or disabled. However, responding with anger, sadness and despair is normal to many events and circumstances, and to deny that in any way is actually grotesque, cruel and horrendously abusive; – it’s a method called gaslighting Gaslighting  is a method of psychological abuse that is usually associated with psychopathic perpetrators; techniques may range from a simple denial by abusers that abusive incidents have occurred, to events and accounts staged by the abusers with the intention of disorienting the victims.
The government is pre-empting any reflection on widening social inequality and injustice by using these types of behavioural modification techniques on the poor, holding them entirely responsible for the government’s economic failures and the consequences of those. Sanctions are applied to “remedy” various “defects” of individual behaviour, character and attitude, and poor people are being coerced into workfare and complicity using bogus psychology and bluntly applied behavioural modification techniques.
Poor people are punished for being poor, whilst wealthy people are rewarded for being wealthy. Not only on a material level, but on a level of socially and politically attributed esteem, worth and value. We know from research undertaken by sociologists, psychologists and economists over the past century that being poor is bad for mental health. The government is choosing to ignore this and adding to that problem substantially by stripping people of their basic dignity and autonomy.
The application of behavioural science is even more damaging than the hateful propaganda and media portrayals, although both despicable methods of control work together to inflict psychological damage on more than one level. “Positive psychology” and propaganda serve to invalidate individual experiences, distress and pain and to appropriate blame for circumstances that lie entirely outside of an individual’s control and responsibility.
Social psychologists such as Melvin Lerner followed on from Milgam’s work, exploring social conformity and obedience seeking to answer the questions of how regimes that cause cruelty and suffering maintain popular support, and how people come to accept social norms and laws that produce misery and suffering. The “just-world” fallacy is the cognitive bias (assumption) that a person’s actions always bring morally fair and fitting consequences to that person; so all honourable actions are eventually rewarded and all evil actions are eventually punished. The fallacy is that this implies (often unintentionally) the existence of cosmic justice, stability, or order, and  serves to rationalise people’s misfortune on the grounds that they deserve it. It is an unfounded, persistent and comforting belief that the world is somehow fundamentally fair, without the need for our own moral agency and responsibility.
The fallacy appears in the English language in various figures of speech that imply guaranteed negative reprisal, such as: “You got what was coming to you,” “What goes around comes around,” and “You reap what you sow.” This tacit assumption is rarely scrutinised, and goes some way to explain why innocent victims are blamed for their misfortune. This Government divides people into deserving and undeserving categories – the “strivers” and “scroungers” rhetoric is an example of how the government are drawing on such fallacious tacit assumptions; this draws on an inbuilt bias of some observers to blame victims for their suffering – to justify social oppression and inequality they have engineered via policy.
The poorest are expected to be endlessly resilient and resourceful, benefit claimants are having their lifeline benefits stripped away, and are being forced into a struggle to meet their basic survival needs. This punitive approach can never work to “incentivise” or motivate in such circumstances, because we know that when people struggle to meet basic survival needs they are too pre-occupied by that to be motivated to meet other less pressing needs. Maslow identifies this in his “Hierarchy of Needs”, and many motivational studies bear this out. This makes the phrase trotted out by the Tories: “helping people into work” to justify sanctions and workfare not only utterly terrifying, but also inane.
Unemployment is NOT caused by “psychological barriers”, it is caused by feckless and reckless governments failing to invest in growth projects. It’s not about personal “employability”, it’s about economics, political policies and subsequent socio-structural problems.
Public policy is not a playground for the amateur and potentially dangerous application of brainwashing techniques via UK government’s Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) or “nudge unit”. This is NOT being nasty in a “nice way: it is being nasty in a nasty way, as it’s utterly callous. The rise of psychological coercion, ‘positive affect as coercive strategy’, and the recruitment of traditional and economic psychology/psychologists into monitoring, modifying and punishing people who claim social security benefits raises important ethical questions about psychological authority, and we are very concerned about the professional silence so far regarding this adoption of a psychocratic approach to social control by this government.