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Friday, 6 January 2012

Welfare Reform - 3 big assumptions

Much of the Government’s strategy over Welfare reform is based on three massive assumptions:
1.         Society needs as many people to work as possible as it is work that creates wealth.
2.         Work is inherently good for us all, physically & psychologically as it has therapeutic qualities.
3.         Very many sick and/or disabled people are capable of some kind of work.

Assumption #1
Assume, at least for the time being, that this is correct.
Assumption #2
A huge and sweeping generalisation.   My GP has signed up to the Hippocratic Oath.  I know him/her, he/she knows me.  I have learned to trust their judgement as being in my best interests.  If I disagree, we will have a discussion and reach agreement.  If he/she says I am fit for work and I think I am not, we will have the same discussion – I would not expect him/her to change their view unless I can logically and rationally convince them of my case.  I would not expect them to just cave in under irrational and illogical pressure.  If they did, not only do they break the Oath, but immediately lose my confidence and respect as well as their own integrity – who wants a GP whose diagnosis & prognosis are influenced by a bit of shouting?
The point is that if Assumption #2 is true, my GP would have told me and factored it into my recovery programme.  Any suggestion to the contrary forces some very serious consequences that cannot simply be ignored.  Either my GP is doing their job or they are not and the Government cannot hide behind this new fangled branch of medicine called “Work Capability Assessment” which is evidently missing from the lengthy university based training plan.  Nor can it create non-existent barriers by suggesting loss of patient confidentiality & trust when properly handled, this should achieve precisely the opposite – more of both!
Assumption #3
Phrased this way, quite possibly true.  However, is it unlikely to be ‘conventional’ work.
The one thing an employer needs is reliability and this is one thing that many sick and disabled people struggle hardest to provide due to the often unpredictable nature of their condition.  They have learned to adapt their lives around it and employers need to do likewise – to offer the flexibility that the solution requires – flexibility over attendance times, flexibility over hospital visits, flexibility over rest periods at work etc.
The Government claims to be providing support, but has put the cart before the proverbial horse.  Ignoring the fact that there are not enough conventional jobs to go round and disabled people will generally find it tougher to get one, what has the Government done specifically to address this question of flexibility?  NOTHING, and this was the very place it should have started.  This goes much further than installing a few ramps and automatic opening doors, to the very way in which an employer schedules the workload through the day.
Instead, they have taken a completely unrealistic view of the impact disability has in the workplace based on totally spurious theories about the impact of equality legislation.  Their proposition is that employers have responded to the spirit as well as the letter of it so willingly and comprehensively that any form of disability need never be a topic of conversation again.
So on this basis all work (or whatever is available at any point in time) is equally suitable for disabled and able bodied people alike and disabled people are considered on a completely equal basis.
By putting the cart before the horse, they have simply moved people from one queue to another (arguably), more frustrating and de-motivating queue and what is the point in that?

To further demonstrate how seriously they do not understand, they are scaling down REMPLOY.  Explain that if you can.

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