Copy of Comment made on CiF by Red Miner – permission to use granted –
9 Nov 2011: An everyday tale of welfare reform.
You’d have thought that The Guardian would have had a look through their own archives before entering into a lucrative “partnership” with Unum that has let it to heavily promoting the products of what has been described as, (in an article that appeared in their own newspaper in 2008), – “An outlaw company. It is a company that for years has operated in an illegal fashion”.
And there’s more:
welfare reform has been for some time a key battleground to outflank Cameron, by playing tough to the tabloids. In the process, the welfare state is being transformed by marketisation. As I’ve argued in other blogs, the Labour movement and centre-left generally have abandoned claimants to these reforms, having accepted the idea that workfare and its ideology of “active welfare” is a progressive measure.In fact, the origin of active welfare – the idea that the poor are the cause of their own poverty because they fail to take advantage of the opportunities “available” to them – lies in the American right.
And more: Mansel Aylward – remember the name.
In 1994, the Tory government hired John LoCascio, second vice-president of giant US disability insurance company, Unum, to advise on reducing the numbers successfully claiming IB. He joined the “medical evaluation group”. Another key figure in the group was Mansel Aylward. They devised a stringent “all work test”. Approved doctors were trained in Unum’s approach to claims management. The rise in IB claimants came to a halt. However, it did not reduce the rising numbers of claimants with mental health problems. The gateway to benefit needed tightening up even more.
Here’s Mansel again look. He does get about, doesn’t he?
Unum has built up its influence in Britain. In July 2004, it opened its £1.6m Unum Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research at Cardiff University. The company appointed Mansel Aylward as director following his retirement from the DWP in April. The launch event was attended by Archie Kirkwood, recently appointed chair of the House of Commons select committee on work and pensions. Malcolm Wicks, minister of state in the DWP, gave a speech praising the partnership between industry and the university.
And so it goes, on and on and on, but who really gives a stuff? it’s just dole wallahs, and they’re all idlers milking the system, aren’t they?
This is the company that has played a leading role in shaping welfare reform in Britain. It has promoted the ideas behind the new work capability assessment. The more stringent the assessment, the more people fail it or fear failing it, and so the larger the potential market in private disability insurance.
In others words, those Daily Mail reading saps cheering on these reforms will eventually meet Unum or someone like them themselves, becuase welfare benefits are being ended in Britain, to be replaced by ‘income insurance’ from companies like Unum.God save the Queen…http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2011/11/08/e-pluribus-unum-the-guardian/
30 Oct 2011:
At Rich JamesThe Tories began introducing Workfare, Universal Credit and tougher sanctions becauseWork and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith says “a life on benefits will no longer be an option for somebody”.
But: my bold
Channel 4 News has obtained figures which appear to show that the concept of a lifetime on benefits is a myth – at least for those who are unemployed.Myth?Using figures from the Office of National Statistics, it seems that the number of people claiming unemployment benefits long-term has fallen ten fold over the last decade.Of the 1.5m people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in January 2011, just 0.3 per cent had been claiming for five years or more – 4,220 people.
The Tories then backtracked and said people didn’t ‘stay in jobs’. Well of course they don’t, this shows complete ignorance of the current labour market for low pay jobs, which is agency driven, part-time, and temporary.
Where I live, there is a meat packing plant that has provided many with stable employment over the decades. Of course, with the large influx of Eastern Europeans they have steadily displaced the locals from this factory and there is a surplus of labour in the area. Employment agencies have descended on the area like vultures and almost completely âcausalisedâ the workforce around West Lothian to the extent that the job centres are littered with zero hour contract jobs.A friend of mine who has worked in said plant for over thirty years sees young men coming in on the Monday work for three hours, then sent home to sit by the phone in case they are needed during the week.
http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/05/15/the-unfairness-of-ed-miliband/#comment-133052What are people to do exactly, refuse to stop working when told? the Tories even want to make sacking people easier.
This is why the Peterlooers find it so offensive that very little is said by the Guardian about private health insurance firms lobbying the three main political parties. They’ve won me over on that point. They’re right to bemoan the absence of coverage – in both senses.
The Guardian has gone into partnership with Unum, the company found guilty of running ‘disability-denial factories’ in the US, and who have been the main people organising conferences with politicians and other groups and companies to begin exploiting the British market, which they saw as under developed. Clearly the first requirement for an insurance firm wishing to make inroads into a market is to do its best to undermine state provision if it exists. ‘Malingering and Illness Deception’ – My bold:
In November 2001 a conference assembled at Woodstock, near Oxford. Its subject was ‘Malingering and Illness Deception’. The topic was a familiar one to the insurance industry, but it was now becoming a major political issue as New Labour committed itself to reducing the 2.6 million who were claiming Incapacity Benefit (IB). Amongst the 39 participants was Malcolm Wicks, then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Work, and Mansel Aylward, his Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). Fraud – which amounts to less than 0.4 per cent of IB claims – was not the issue. The experts and academics present were the theorists and ideologues of welfare to work. What linked many of them together, including Aylward, was their association with the giant US income protection company UnumProvident, represented at the conference by John LoCascio. The goal was the transformation of the welfare system. The cultural meaning of illness would be redefined; growing numbers of claimants would be declared capable of work and ‘motivated’ into jobs. A new work ethic would transform IB recipients into entrepreneurs helping themselves out of poverty and into self-reliance. Five years later these goals would take a tangible form in New Labour’s 2006 Welfare Reform Bill.
People think the changes to sickness benefit are nothing to do with them, but it has become a model for how private insurance companies from the US and France can destabilise state provision, effectively have it abolished, and move in to sweep up what remains.I make this prediction, at the moment, the only people aware of Atos and Unum in Britain are the disabled unfortunate enough to come into contact them. Before this decade is over, they will be one of the best known names in the British home, as a provider of private income and health insurance. The British Public will live to regret their toleration of the the treatment of the sick and disabled.
Clipped on 30 October 2011
12 November 2011 11:24AM
How they treat disabled veterans with the DWP’s disability-denial factories:
Unum section within the Guardian –
Unum/Guardian Article followed by comments critical of the arrangements from many readers. Comments which were subsequently ignored but well worth reading to understand the opposition to this joint sponsorship deal. Opposition which has been ignored by the Guardian editorial staff but which continues on.
June 16 2011 – the start of the partnership.
Private Eye article – Unum
A copy of one of Ephemerid’s many requests for an article on such matters……12 Nov 2011
I’ve asked many times for a BIG in-depth article about what’s going on with benefits/welfare.
You said people were looking at this – and we’ve had 2 good articles (tucked away in the Society threads – which is nice but not what I was hoping for.
If you have a look at Atos Register of Shame, you might find the 2 most recent posts of interest to a Guardian journalist. One highlights a letter sent to the Daily Mail which is full of hate against disabled people.
The other is a memorandum sent by Unum to the H&SC Select Committee which shows exactly what they plan to do regarding people they call “these unemployed inactives”.
They are already working with DWP and JobCentrePlus, and they appear to believe that that “acquiring” a disability doesn’t mean a person can’t work.
They are advising on how best to change the benefits system, and they have produced a book called “The Knowledge” which is a guide for employers who need to be encouraged to put even the seriously ill or disabled to work even if only for an hour.
I suspect this will be modded given the links GMG has with Unum, and the furore caused by a recent article sponsored by them – but I hope some fairness will prevail, as I hace stuck rigidly to your community standards.
I really think the Guardian could do more to publicise this.
Hi folks – LAC’s just asked me to pop in so here I am.
I’ve been badgering Bella for ever it seems. Zilch.
I had a pop at ’em again on the youngsters’ work programme thread too.
In fact I’m doing it all over the place.
I soooo hate being ignored!
Just upset an ex-copper on the subject of drugs.
Hey ho! Onwards and upwards – got my letter from Atos today so I’ll be off for another computer says no session at the end of the month.
You might find this interesting and or useful 🙂
Utterly brilliant work – please send my regards to Red Miner (if he’s still looking for somewhere to live, I have a suggestion – tell him to look up ‘Little Moscow’ (England). There’s plenty of room and they do take DSS 🙂 – (just don’t connect to me please :))
Thanks for this.
When I sent my ESA50 back in July, I enclosed GP and consultant letters (originals, they don’t accept copies) and a GP list of all my medications. I asked them to copy them and return them. I’m still waiting. In March, they put me in the WRAG but 9 months later I’ve had no contact from JobCentrePlus to “help me into work” that I’m incapable of doing. I’ve spent months trying to find out who I can complain to – The whole system sucks.obvs. I’ll be taking a witness with me again (the lovely showmaster) and once again I’ll ask the questions and take notes. Your template’s brilliant, thank you.
Atos register of shame has a new post on the shenanigans of Unum at the Tory party conference – the latest wheeze is advising employers on liability insurance – I hope they’ve read and understood the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Disability Discrimination Act.
I’ve also posted on CIF in the youth unemployment thread about who insures Work Programme claimants – as they are not paid, they are not employed by Tesco or whoever. So are they insured by the government or by the employer? If a claimant was injured while on the Work Programme, who takes responsibility? Is it the programme provider, the DWP, or the employer? Places like Tesco have a duty of care to employees which is over and above the standard public liability insurance for shoppers – staff have Occ.Health assessments before they sign their contracts, and are protected by law in a way the general public isn’t. If a provider, say A4E, sends someone like me to stack shelves in Tesco, which would be dangerous for me, who is responsible if I get hurt?
I think that a good lawyer could not only prove that making claimants work for a legal entitlement to benefits (providing the conditions on the ES40 are fulfilled) is against min.wage law, he/she could also prove that unless the claimants are insured properly the Work Programme is illegal under current legislation on safety at work.
I’m at a loss to understand why the meeja aren’t making a huge fuss about this.
I’m furious that the Graun won’t research this properly and get Nick Davies or someone to do a full in-depth analysis of the bigger picture.
There’s a headline today saying that rents are falling slowly in some places, but not enough to prevent people getting into arrears – mark my words, there will be people dead on the pavement before the fourth estate wakes up to this.
I’m angry that the Graun doesn’t get Sue Marsh or Mason Dixon to write about this, even if they won’t put their own journos on the case. I’d do it, FFS!
The odd few pieces dotted around don’t give the full picture, and that’s what’s needed.
Hey ho. Soldier on……..
n.b. Second comment is Red Miner’s too.
Hi folks – just posted on CIf ideas for 18/19 Nov. Tokyo suggested the peterloo club (his words) write the articles they want to see. Good.
And in other news – Labour MP Madeline Moon photographed at Unums’ stall at the conference – see Atos Register of Shame.
And many thanks to Wildey for the advice – I may well use it.
Good comment on the You Tell Us thread – we have to keep the pressure up – I’m still battling away at Rusbridger.
I’ll copy your comment here for future ref. if needed.
18 November 2011 12:09PM
Response to Tokyo06, 18 November 2011 11:23AM
Good idea. Seriously.
You may not like this “occupation” but most of us are just ordinary CIFers who’d like to see this estimable organ do what it was founded to do – viz: give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves, or lack the ability and means to do so.
It’s not a huge ask, really – I’ve been asking for a full in-depth article about what’s happening to welfare provision in this country for a long time now. People are dying because our benefits system has become so punitive – and there will be more deaths if what Labour started and the ConDems are finishing carries on. There have been a few good articles on aspects of this, but I think a proper overview of all the changes needs to be done.
We are living in a society which is constantly told by compromised media that sick and disabled people are scrounging when fraud is 0.5%; people with cancer are being found fit for work and it won’t be long before they join the jobless youngsters shelf-stacking at Tescos to “earn” their legal entitlement between their chemo treatments.
We are living in a society where some people seem to think it’s OK to judge whether a person is deserving or undeserving, where people think that benefits go to the workshy when actually more working people claim them than those who are unemployed – tax credits, housing and council tax benefits.
We are living in a society run by privileged toffs who have never had to worry about where their next meal is coming from, and who think selling off our welfare system to their friends and disability denial companies is a sensible thing to do. We have a chancellor who is an ex-towel folder and thinks it’s OK to sell off an asset half-price for 747 million which is just what he needs to offset a year’s worth of reduced 50p income tax for the richest – but who begrudges an inflation-rate uprating of benefit worth £3 to the poorest.
I’ll change my avatar when I see the Guardian returning to it’s founding principles and not before. If the staff can’t get a good investigative journalist onto this, there are plenty of OTMPeterloo contributors who can do it for them.
Not often I agree with you, Tokyo, but I do about this.
Please, Bella – we need to see some outrage.
Mods – as ever, my comments are within your/our community standards. Thank you.
Ta muchly Lac – I’ve put up a response to TigerDunc as well, using the opportunity to witter on about means-testing, DLA for children, etc. and hopefully it might shock a few people into lending us a bit of support.
I’ve no intention of being put off – but I’ll be very careful…….
Forgot to say – TigerDunc thinks my writing’s good and he asked for me to write about this issue. Don’t suppose they’ll take any notice……
OMG STOP PRESS!!!!!
Isabella Mackie has just asked me if I want to write for the Guardian.
Could we be making some progress?????
If she’s serious, we need to get some ideas together, and as we have a lot to say, it seems we need to ask if we can have a series or something.
Mustn’t get too carried away, but maybe something’s happening at last.
I’ll keep you posted.
Love and hugs – I’m feeling positive
Excellent Ephemerid – but don’t let them fob you off with a one off slot – tell them you want to do a series if that’s what you think will work best and you could even ask to include others like Arec? and those Pagey mentioned – or whoever you think you could work with etc. – and don’t forget Red Miner he knows so much about the UNUM/Atos issues etc – yet you could really go for it.
Well done – get as much as you can out of it. Good news.
Good advice – I’m emailing her later and I’ll explain what I’ve got in mind, viz: an overview of what’s happening, with input from all the people who write so eloquently on CIF already. I’d like a team thing, really – but I don’t know if that’ll be allowed. Wait and see. And I won’t be fobbed off, either – all or nothing, or it’s pointless. I don’t want them to say they’ve given me houseroom and that’s the end of it; nor do I think it’s OK to tuck something away in a corner and consider the job done. As they say at the best gigs – LETS MAKE SOME NOISE!!!
I’ll be careful, and I’d be grateful for any ideas or opinions – in fact, if we can’t make it a team thing (and I think there may be historical reasons for why that might not be possible, ho hum) I think I’ll ask you guys to do a pre-proof-read so I’m getting the general message across. Hope that’s OK. Laters!
That’s fine Ephemerid you don’t need us as such as this should focus on the welfare/ATOS/DLA issues etc and you know who can help you out there and are the best to work with in that field so go for it – I know you’ll sock it to them – no worries there!
I’ll write to Bella and see what happens.
I’ll post on Mason Dixon’s blog and Sue Marsh’s – and any advice form Pagey, RedMiner and co would be helpful – I know what I want to write but I’m bound to forget something.
I can’t claim to speak for everyone, but I don’t want to miss something others feel is important.
Cheers – I’ll be in touch.
Well done, Ephemerid!
Reminded Isabella on the ideas thread that I’d emailed as requested.
I can have 650-750 words on CIF as a one-off and then we’ll see about any future articles. No series. I’ve responded with my opinion that I’d need more than that to do justice to my experience of the WCA alone. Let alone the in-depth coverage I had in mind. I’ve told her I’ll think about it. I’m not too well at the moment which always makes me crabby, but I’m not very happy. So much for getting an award for best disability coverage – I’ll concede it’s better than most, but given an opportunity to have an experienced writer (yes I’ve been published before) with personal experience and knowledge do something at the request of at least two readers, you’d think…You were right LAC. I got carried away there for a bit.
Maybe they need to see how the first article works before they agree to more – it could be something they do with all writers? If you can do a one off and feel happy with that you could try for that and see how it goes – but only if you feel it would work. Have a word with fellow campaigners and see what they think Ephemerid if you can – they would give you the support and back up too so you don’t feel you’re on your own – Red Miner seems to have a good head on him – have a word with him to see what he thinks about it? Or just go ahead and give them one article and see what happens.
Whatever you think best – but if they’re happy with the first one – which I reckon they would be because of your standard as a writer – then they probably would do more? Whatever works best for you.
Hmmm. I’ll have a little think.
There’s no reason why they should do this at all really, but I really am a bit disappointed – I’ve been very clear about what I want to see, and judging by the recommends and comments, at least some people agree.
Originally I was asking for a good journo to do it, but I daresay they have certain constraints what with one thing and another.
I’ll think on it for a while, and let you know what I decide to do.
Thanks for the advice once again, and I’ll see if I can get in touch with people as you suggested. You’re nice, you are. 🙂
What I’ve done for now is confine myself to a 750-word piece on the difficulties in claiming generally – liberally scattered with a few references to my inability to explain things properly in the space available. And asking if anyone wants to know more…..
I’ve sent this off with a letter explaining – again – my view that there are many CIF contributors with knowledge, experience, and writing skills who should be given an opportunity to write about this in depth; or that a series by a campaigning journalist providing an accurate overview would be good too.
I’ll keep you posted.
Isabella has emailed to say that she’ll let me know next week when the articles’ going up. I’m hoping she doesn’t fiddle about with it too much – especially the second line in which I say that it’s not the article I really wanted to write……
Lets wait and see.
Good news Ephemerid – let us and your other other campaiging contacts know too when it comes up and we can all go and support it with our comments and give it a further push too so they’ll ask you hopefully to do more. I’m sure she’ll show you any changes beforehand too – that would be the correct thing to do – but I guess you’ll find out their procedures as you go along. Looking forward to to – something worthwhile to read at last!
Do you want me to e.mail Jessica/Bella and ask too?
The other thing I need to mention to you is that Rusbridger has invited me to call in and see him to speak with him about various matters – so I am asking asking various people to send me anything they would like me to bring up with him too – so if you could send me what you think would help improve matters I can raise that with him along with the other issues from other people too. I’m not going to mention it to anyone else outside of the campaign until after its taken place and them will pass on details to let people know what happened etc. At least we’ll be getting through to the one who makes the decisions.
You can send it to me here or via e.mail if you wish – my e.mail is…..firstname.lastname@example.org.
And let me know if you want me to ask about your piece……..have to pop out soon but will call back in here this afternoon to chat if you’re around.
Take care Ephemerid – hopefully we’ll get there in the end.
Hi LAC – thanks for this.
I’ll have a think about all this.
Re.Article – I think Isabella was simply responding to other posters whose idea it was in the first place. Subsequent communications have involved me sending a confined-to 750-word piece, and a request for links/personal story etc.
I’ll forward ’em to you.
I am suprised they have not got back to you Ephemerid – maybe they are waiting for an appropriate slot but I would ask again – just tell them you might have missed an email they sent as you haven’t heard anything…..
I have just read about Pele’s situation and it just makes you all that more angry – but I will direct that anger into what we will say to Rusbridger and will ensure he knows exactly how he is letting his readers down – and find out what the game is with UNUM and if he really realises how he is going against everything the welfare state was set up to be and do and the reasons why people fought for it in the first place.
On Monday when the new You Tell Us thread is up – I will put in a lighthearted remark to Jesssica/Bella on the lines of…..Have been on the look out for Ephemerid’s article – do you know when it is coming up?……and that should give then a kick and make them look into it all. If that’s alright with you?
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