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The government has launched a consultation on changes to the work capability assessment which they say is aimed at putting “an end to the binary ‘can work/can’t work’ groups.” One of the aims of the green paper appears to be to oblige many claimants in the support group to undertake work-related activities.

The government’s green paper proposes a number of measures, including:

  • a review of Statutory Sick Pay and GP fit notes to support workers back into their jobs faster, and for longer;
  • encouraging Jobcentre Plus work coaches to signpost claimants to therapy;
  • the launch of a consultation on Work Capability Assessment reform;
  • encouraging employers to work with their employees with long-term health conditions to stop them from falling out of work;
  • to extending fit notes from doctors to other healthcare professionals to help ensure people receive more tailored support;
  • developing large scale trials on how health-led services and support can help get disabled people and those with long-term conditions back into work – with a specific focus on mental health and musculoskeletal conditions;
  • a wide-ranging debate about recognising the value of work as a health outcome.

However, it is the following passages which will be of most concern to ESA claimants:

“131. Instead, it ought to be possible to build a more effective approach to assessing entitlement to financial and employment support. For instance, establishing entitlement to financial support could still be decided by an assessment, but that assessment could be used solely to determine whether an individual should get additional financial support. Decisions on whether someone should engage with Jobcentre Plus or specialist programmes could then be made through a separate process. This would avoid the current situation where someone’s entitlement to additional financial support can also result in them being given no employment support.

“132. For instance, trained work coaches could have discretion to make case-by-case decisions about the type of employment support a person is able to engage with. To do this effectively, they would work closely with the person, building on information gathered at early discussions such as the Health and Work Conversation to ensure they are signposted to help that is appropriate to their needs. Work coaches will be able to draw on additional advice where needed, from Disability Employment Advisers and Community Partners, and could access specialist advice such as occupational health and Jobcentre Plus work psychologists where individuals have more complex health conditions.

“133. That important relationship with a work coach would then continue beyond the assessment, ensuring those assessed as needing the most financial support can still access the holistic health and employment support and signposting offered by and through Jobcentre Plus. Work coaches could have full discretion to tailor any employment support to each individual claimant. This approach would be truly responsive, allowing the work coach to adjust requirements and goals dependent on changes in a person’s condition or circumstances. This is particularly important for people with fluctuating health conditions, as the support available would always be reflective of their needs.

“134. This would mean that people are really offered a personalised service that takes appropriate account of their needs while still receiving the same financial support as under the current system – rather than having the offer of employment support determined by a fixed category. We would of course put safeguards in place to ensure that work coaches do not require someone to attend an appointment where this would not be reasonable.”

The aim appears to be to place claimants in the support group, allowing them the additional income that being in this group provides, but then leaving it up to work coaches to decide whether the claimant must undertake work-related activities.

The closing date for the consultation is 17 February 2017.

You can download the full consultation document from this link.

You can take part in the consultation from this link.

Comments  

#59 Asbo 2016-12-13 14:50
[quote name="tintack

Hi tintack (I've still not got the hang of this quotes business properly!) but one thing Pickles did say to soften the one rate out of work benefit is that they were going to put more £ into PIP, so that's the softener. I think they will gradually reduce it e.g. starting with new claimants. Alas, I cheered at the Tory working majority of only 12 (can't remember which seats they gained since 2015) but they seem to have managed so far and as you say they are doing very well in the polls. Not that you can trust the polls these days!

While I am as angry and despairing as you are re the Right Wing bum fodder rags with their screeching headlines they are populist opportunists at the end of the day. Automaton and digital technology is rapidly changing the world as we know it and UBI is the only real way forward. I think it will have to come, not sure when, but I have never felt more optimistic about it becoming a reality than any of the last 4 decades. Not that I believe it will be a quick thing. But things are changing fast in world politics, though I despair that it's always the right wing fake antiestablishme nt figures who are winning. However this Corby rally in Liverpool should warm the cockles of the heart:
https://jeffgoulding.com/2016/08/01/jeremy-corbyn-a-revolution-in-plain-sight/

No I won't hold my breath re a Pickles reply either!
#58 tintack 2016-12-12 22:21
Quoting Asbo:
Hi tintack, I think it's precisely because their plans haven't worked, the getting one million people off sickness benefits at any rate, is why they're determined to make it happen come hell or high water. It's exactly the same number that they're targeting, one million people as it was in 2008 and so now they've come up with another way to coerce and bully people, this time in the SG.


It may still be the long-term objective, but they'd have a heck of a time squaring a flat rate even for the SG with their statements that they're not looking for any further cuts to the social security budget in this parliament. They also have a working majority of just 14, and the more radical the plans, the more vulnerable they are to backbench rebellions. Now the polls show these bastards miles ahead in the polls, so if we have an early election and the public are gullible enough to vote them back in with a landslide, that could be a big problem.

Quote:
Re UBI it's gained a lot of traction in Europe and they were inviting contributors for a conference at Birmingham Uni. OK, a long way off, but John McDonnell is now behind it and of course it's been Green policy for decades but I think there's a real appetite for it now as the powers that be realize we're never going to have full employment again.


If anything forces it to happen it will be automation, but for now there's no chance. The way people are so easily and cynically manipulated by the Sun, Mail, Express etc. is frightening, and they'd be screaming about UBI allowing "scroungers" to get "something for nothing", and so on.

Quote:
They need to seriously rethink for 21 century. In the meantime, I've emailed Pickles with my original email so will see if she answers or not!
Let us know if you get a reply, but in the interests of self-preservati on I won't be holding my breath!
#57 Asbo 2016-12-12 20:19
Quote:
what I hope their gearing themselves up for is a form of UBI. That would at least take the conditionality out of it.
Unfortunately conditionality, i.e. grinding the poor into the dirt, hits the political g-spot of far too many people, especially Tories, so sadly I can't see UBI.happening.

Hi tintack, I think it's precisely because their plans haven't worked, the getting one million people off sickness benefits at any rate, is why they're determined to make it happen come hell or high water. It's exactly the same number that they're targeting, one million people as it was in 2008 and so now they've come up with another way to coerce and bully people, this time in the SG. I think Dame Carole Black is still very much behind it too. Re UBI it's gained a lot of traction in Europe and they were inviting contributors for a conference at Birmingham Uni. OK, a long way off, but John McDonnell is now behind it and of course it's been Green policy for decades but I think there's a real appetite for it now as the powers that be realize we're never going to have full employment again. High street shops are closing, there's so much free on the internet, cars will be automated etc. They need to seriously rethink for 21 century. In the meantime, I've emailed Pickles with my original email so will see if she answers or not!
#56 tintack 2016-12-11 18:36
Quoting Asbo:
Hi tintack, alas, even though the vile IDS and his lot aren't still on board, the health and work green paper is definitely very much alive and kicking and a lot all this reform predates IDS by years anyway and goes back to the stuff being proposed by Dame Carol Black, and Waddell and Aylward and their dodgy 'research' at Cardiff Uni in order to bring about private health insurance as per the USA. I know just how much controversy UC has caused and how many people in charge of it have resigned on the IT side but it's still going ahead


Hi Asbo. I know a lot of this goes back to Aylward and Unum, but it's fair to say it hasn't exactly gone to plan. If it had, there would now be a million fewer people on ESA who would be forced to buy insurance as a result, Unum would be making a mint, and there would still only be around 12 or 13% of claimants getting in to the support group as per the original contract between Atos and the DWP. Instead of which we have a higher proportion of claimants in the SG, barely any change in the number of ESA claimants compared to when the WCA was brought in, and Unum have deservedly made very little out of their conniving with the DWP. Even Aylward criticised the WCA when he saw which way the wind was blowing.

None of this means the flat rate won't happen, but having screwed up so badly from the start it's now going to be a lot harder to justify carrying it to the extreme advocated by Reform, not least because the litany of cock-ups and misery caused by this obscenity mean that it's under a lot more scrutiny than it would have been if all had gone to plan..

Quote:
what I hope their gearing themselves up for is a form of UBI. That would at least take the conditionality out of it.
Unfortunately conditionality, i.e. grinding the poor into the dirt, hits the political g-spot of far too many people, especially Tories, so sadly I can't see UBI.happening.
#55 Asbo 2016-12-11 14:00
Quote:


We'll just have to wait and see. I'm not saying they might not try it at some point, just that it's not on the cards at present. If they tried to sneak it through under Universal Credit it would soon be found out. UC is enough trouble already. It's been plagued by massive delays, is hugely over-budget, and I think I'm right in saying that a significant chunk of Osborne's tax credit cuts, which were supposedly reversed, are effectively going to be introduced as part of the UC system. And that's before the scandal of in-work conditionality starts, which is going to cause an almighty uproar when large numbers of people who thought they were "doing the right thing" find themselves being given a dose of the same medicine meted out to the unemployed....

I share your concern about Pickles and her demented ravings, but she and Reform are very close to IDS, and he's no longer in government. That's not to say Pickles' idea won't happen, but it's less likely without those two....
Hi tintack, alas, even though the vile IDS and his lot aren't still on board, the health and work green paper is definitely very much alive and kicking and a lot all this reform predates IDS by years anyway and goes back to the stuff being proposed by Dame Carol Black, and Waddell and Aylward and their dodgy 'research' at Cardiff Uni in order to bring about private health insurance as per the USA. I know just how much controversy UC has caused and how many people in charge of it have resigned on the IT side but it's still going ahead. I don't think Pickles is particularly important in the debate, she's just said what they want to hear and they will find a way to railroad it through regardless...th is has what's happened with the rest of welfare reform and I don't see this as any different. Hope I'm wrong...and what I hope their gearing themselves up for is a form of UBI. That would at least take the conditionality out of it.
#54 tintack 2016-12-10 00:13
Quoting Asbo:
I hope you're right, tintack. The original proposals on the Reform website categorically call for a single out of work benefit and my hunch is that it will be easy to bring about the change when UC has replaced the other benefits. MPs will of course support those in the SG who have conditions that will never change or fluctuate but the rhetoric and propaganda has already begun about the numbers in the Support Group and the fact that 'work is good, especially for those with mental health and muscular-skeletal conditions'.


We'll just have to wait and see. I'm not saying they might not try it at some point, just that it's not on the cards at present. If they tried to sneak it through under Universal Credit it would soon be found out. UC is enough trouble already. It's been plagued by massive delays, is hugely over-budget, and I think I'm right in saying that a significant chunk of Osborne's tax credit cuts, which were supposedly reversed, are effectively going to be introduced as part of the UC system. And that's before the scandal of in-work conditionality starts, which is going to cause an almighty uproar when large numbers of people who thought they were "doing the right thing" find themselves being given a dose of the same medicine meted out to the unemployed. If they tried slashing the SG on top of that, UC would be so embroiled in scandals that it would either have to be scrapped, or so radically changed as to be unrecognisable.

I share your concern about Pickles and her demented ravings, but she and Reform are very close to IDS, and he's no longer in government. Nor is Osborne, who if anything was even worse. That's not to say Pickles' idea won't happen, but it's less likely without those two.Reform are not the government and they no longer have their most zealous ideological fellow travellers at the centre of power, so it won't necessarily happen just because Pickles supports it.
#53 Asbo 2016-12-09 00:07
[quote name="tintack

Hi Asbo. The B & W article concludes with this:

"The aim appears to be to place claimants in the support group, allowing them the additional income that being in this group provides, but then leaving it up to work coaches to decide whether the claimant must undertake work-related activities." (my emphasis).

Now the idea of leaving it to "work coaches" to decide if claimants have to undertake work-related activities is very concerning if they're just going to be DWP bullies in a suit, but it does seem as though the support group will still carry the additional financial component. If they want to eliminate that, making the SG the same as JSA, that would have to be stated in whatever legislation eventually emerges. That's where I believe they'd run into trouble.

When MPs - especially on the government side - start kicking up a fuss, it's usually because they've had furious constituents complaining about whatever the issue is and are worried about keeping their seats. If there are Tory MPs worried about the effect of the WRAG cut, there will be that much more alarm at the thought of slashing the SG.

I hope you're right, tintack. The original proposals on the Reform website categorically call for a single out of work benefit and my hunch is that it will be easy to bring about the change when UC has replaced the other benefits. MPs will of course support those in the SG who have conditions that will never change or fluctuate but the rhetoric and propaganda has already begun about the numbers in the Support Group and the fact that 'work is good, especially for those with mental health and muscular-skelet al conditions'.
#52 tintack 2016-12-06 23:55
Quoting Asbo:
But Charlotte Pickles definitely talks about a flat rate for all people out of work, regardless of why, but she does say that those with the most severe disabilities would get more in PIP. The rest of the savings will be given to 'helping those furthest from the workplace' to coin their ghastly parlance! Yes, many MPs very unhappy about cuts to the WRAG but the govt still got away with it and I fear that it will be all too easy to push it through under a 'new' benefit i.e. Universal Credit, where the cuts may be less obvious to many (apart from claimants of course and those closest to us in whatever capacity). I dearly hope I am wrong


Hi Asbo. The B & W article concludes with this:

"The aim appears to be to place claimants in the support group, allowing them the additional income that being in this group provides, but then leaving it up to work coaches to decide whether the claimant must undertake work-related activities." (my emphasis).

Now the idea of leaving it to "work coaches" to decide if claimants have to undertake work-related activities is very concerning if they're just going to be DWP bullies in a suit, but it does seem as though the support group will still carry the additional financial component. If they want to eliminate that, making the SG the same as JSA, that would have to be stated in whatever legislation eventually emerges. That's where I believe they'd run into trouble.

When MPs - especially on the government side - start kicking up a fuss, it's usually because they've had furious constituents complaining about whatever the issue is and are worried about keeping their seats. If there are Tory MPs worried about the effect of the WRAG cut, there will be that much more alarm at the thought of slashing the SG.
#51 Asbo 2016-12-06 15:08
[quote name="tintack

Hi Asbo. I certainly wouldn't put it past them to try it if they thought they could get away with it, it's just that it's not been announced as government policy or part of the green paper (unless I've missed something). The petition website claims otherwise.

I do think they'd have real trouble getting it through if they did try it. Even some Tory MPs were very unhappy about the WRAG cut, so if they tried to do the same with the support group I doubt they'd have the numbers to get it through.


Hi tintack, no it's not government policy yet...I see what you mean about the petition...I think the petition's creator is just pre-empting such changes which before they come to pass. I understand that Green Papers are about consultation and I think it is all embedded in there somewhere but so hidden you would never know among all the other things regarding other professionals dealing with work and health. But Charlotte Pickles definitely talks about a flat rate for all people out of work, regardless of why, but she does say that those with the most severe disabilities would get more in PIP. The rest of the savings will be given to 'helping those furthest from the workplace' to coin their ghastly parlance! Yes, many MPs very unhappy about cuts to the WRAG but the govt still got away with it and I fear that it will be all too easy to push it through under a 'new' benefit i.e. Universal Credit, where the cuts may be less obvious to many (apart from claimants of course and those closest to us in whatever capacity). I dearly hope I am wrong
#50 tintack 2016-12-04 19:27
Quoting Asbo:
hi tintack, I think Reform, being a government think tank inform the government so it's quite likely that they are planning to implement these changes if they can get away with it. I suspect the consultation is a whitewash in the same way that the PIP consultation, so that they can be seen to be consulting. As you'll know doubt know it comes across as 'helping' the disabled and wanting to half the employment gap but I have no doubt this is all psychobabble euphemism for cuts, especially as they will be targeting people with mental health and muscular skeletal health problems in the Support Group. I think B&W have covered it before because the Same Difference blog about the same linked back to here. But I guess B&W don't always comment too much at the Green Paper stage because it's not been passed yet.


Hi Asbo. I certainly wouldn't put it past them to try it if they thought they could get away with it, it's just that it's not been announced as government policy or part of the green paper (unless I've missed something). The petition website claims otherwise.

I do think they'd have real trouble getting it through if they did try it. Even some Tory MPs were very unhappy about the WRAG cut, so if they tried to do the same with the support group I doubt they'd have the numbers to get it through.
#49 Asbo 2016-12-04 00:30
hi tintack, I think Reform, being a government think tank inform the government so it's quite likely that they are planning to implement these changes if they can get away with it. I suspect the consultation is a whitewash in the same way that the PIP consultation, so that they can be seen to be consulting. As you'll know doubt know it comes across as 'helping' the disabled and wanting to half the employment gap but I have no doubt this is all psychobabble euphemism for cuts, especially as they will be targeting people with mental health and muscular skeletal health problems in the Support Group. I think B&W have covered it before because the Same Difference blog about the same linked back to here. But I guess B&W don't always comment too much at the Green Paper stage because it's not been passed yet.
#48 tintack 2016-12-02 23:13
Quoting Asbo:
Hi again TinTack
This was the subject of the blog, the link of which I posted last time we were discussing this. Here is the direct link to Reforms's website:
http://www.reform.uk/publication/working-welfare-a-radically-new-approach-to-sickness-and-disability-benefits/
That is where they talk about one flat rate out if work benefit for all and then those with 'mild to moderate' conditions will be assessed and subject to some conditionality which is why I wrote the blog publishing my email to them...since they couldn't be bothered to reply.


Hi Asbo. Yes, I know this is what we were discussing recently. What I'm questioning is the claim on the petition website that the government is planning to enact Reform's ridiculous idea. If it were part of the recently announced green paper I would have expected B & W's news articles to mention it. They do mention some concerning aspects of Damian Green's paper, but as far as I can see there is nothing there about this specific idea from Reform being enacted.
#47 Asbo 2016-12-02 17:03
Quote:
Quote:
Please post our petition on the benefitsandwork website?https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/support-disabled-object-to-benefit-changes-for-support-group-claimants
Is it true that the government is planning to cut the support group to the same level as JSA? Charlotte Pickles is certainly a deluded and dangerous fanatic who floated this insane idea a while back, but I haven't seen anything to suggest that this particular proposal is going to be enacted.

Even if they did try to do it I think they'd struggle to get it through. There are already some Tory backbenchers who are unhappy at the £30 per week cut which reduces the WRAG to the same level as JSA. If the government tried to do the same with the support group there would be even more rebels, and probably enough to stop it happening.
Hi again TinTack
This was the subject of the blog, the link of which I posted last time we were discussing this. Here is the direct link to Reforms's website:
http://www.reform.uk/publication/working-welfare-a-radically-new-approach-to-sickness-and-disability-benefits/
That is where they talk about one flat rate out if work benefit for all and then those with 'mild to moderate' conditions will be assessed and subject to some conditionality which is why I wrote the blog publishing my email to them...since they couldn't be bothered to reply.
+1 #46 tintack 2016-12-02 01:04
Quote:
Please post our petition on the benefitsandwork website?https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/support-disabled-object-to-benefit-changes-for-support-group-claimants
Is it true that the government is planning to cut the support group to the same level as JSA? Charlotte Pickles is certainly a deluded and dangerous fanatic who floated this insane idea a while back, but I haven't seen anything to suggest that this particular proposal is going to be enacted.

Even if they did try to do it I think they'd struggle to get it through. There are already some Tory backbenchers who are unhappy at the £30 per week cut which reduces the WRAG to the same level as JSA. If the government tried to do the same with the support group there would be even more rebels, and probably enough to stop it happening.
#45 Katie1964 2016-12-01 22:39
Please post our petition on the benefitsandwork website?https:/ /you.38degrees. org.uk/petition s/support-disab led-object-to-b enefit-changes- for-support-gro up-claimants
+1 #44 canttrusthesystem 2016-11-22 20:27
Quoting David Hoyle:
Perhaps we'll have the option of sanctions or Dignitas vouchers?

Foetal screeing next? What is their problem?
Aren't these human rights issues or legally challengable discrimination issues now?
Perhaps a crowd-funded court case or something?
I'm actually not at all joking. Is there some major action like that, that could be taken against all this snowballing prejudical social ghettoization and impoverishment of unwell and disabled people in this country?
+1 #43 Asbo 2016-11-11 17:04
Quote:
Quoting Asbo:
Hi Tintack

Just remembered I did a blog on this in May - the unanswered letter. I've only done two blogs this year, it's the one before last. That will be easier than copying and pasting it a bit at a time as you're only allowed 2000 symbols at a time here and it's quite a long letter. So here is the link for the full letter - let me know if you have problems accessing it and I'll go back to the copying and pasting!

http://moggymilitant.blogspot.co.uk/2016_05_01_archive.html


Thanks Asbo, that's really excellent. If they bothered to read the whole thing - and given their inability to cope with anything that challenges their propaganda I'd be surprised if they did - I'd love to have seen their faces. The fact they didn't even acknowledge your e-mail is disgusting - why do they bother to put their e-mail address on their website if e-mails will be ignored?

Of course, if the approach they advocate were so well founded on solid evidence they could have replied, with a short message including a few links to the research that they believe proves their case. The fact that no such message was forthcoming is damning. So they're happy to advocate an approach which the evidence shows will be hugely damaging, but can't even acknowledge an e-mail from one of the people who would be on the receiving end of those consequences should their ideas be enacted. What a bunch of moral cowards.
Thanks Tintack. Indeed. I guess part of me didn't expect a reply because what would they say? They know it's a load of hooey and so they had no answer which is why I needed to expose it by blogging! I guess the email wasn't on their site for the 'likes of us' - we're only the recipients of their pernicious policies after all and how very dare we contact them? !
+2 #42 tintack 2016-11-11 00:38
Quoting Asbo:
Hi Tintack

Just remembered I did a blog on this in May - the unanswered letter. I've only done two blogs this year, it's the one before last. That will be easier than copying and pasting it a bit at a time as you're only allowed 2000 symbols at a time here and it's quite a long letter. So here is the link for the full letter - let me know if you have problems accessing it and I'll go back to the copying and pasting!

http://moggymilitant.blogspot.co.uk/2016_05_01_archive.html


Thanks Asbo, that's really excellent. If they bothered to read the whole thing - and given their inability to cope with anything that challenges their propaganda I'd be surprised if they did - I'd love to have seen their faces. The fact they didn't even acknowledge your e-mail is disgusting - why do they bother to put their e-mail address on their website if e-mails will be ignored?

Of course, if the approach they advocate were so well founded on solid evidence they could have replied, with a short message including a few links to the research that they believe proves their case. The fact that no such message was forthcoming is damning. So they're happy to advocate an approach which the evidence shows will be hugely damaging, but can't even acknowledge an e-mail from one of the people who would be on the receiving end of those consequences should their ideas be enacted. What a bunch of moral cowards.
+3 #41 Asbo 2016-11-10 19:30
Hi Tintack

Just remembered I did a blog on this in May - the unanswered letter. I've only done two blogs this year, it's the one before last. That will be easier than copying and pasting it a bit at a time as you're only allowed 2000 symbols at a time here and it's quite a long letter. So here is the link for the full letter - let me know if you have problems accessing it and I'll go back to the copying and pasting!

http://moggymilitant.blogspot.co.uk/2016_05_01_archive.html
+2 #40 Asbo 2016-11-10 17:31
Hi Tintack
Sure - don't think if I've got space for it all so may have to post it in parts:

Part 1

Dear Reform

Re the above article on your website, I and countless other disabled people are under no illusion as to your agenda so we are not at all convinced and have no confidence in your barely concealed agenda in the above mentioned paper. But let's look at some of the statements contained in it:

"In the quarter to May 2015, just 1 per cent of claimants in the ESA Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) – those deemed able to carry out activity to help them move towards work – left the benefit. The employment rate for disabled people in the UK is just 48 per cent, compared to 81 per cent for the rest of the working-age population."

The reason that rates of employment are far lower among disabled people is because - er - they're disabled. The clue is in the name. Surely it's occurred to you that their rates of employment are largely due to the fact they cannot work in the sense you are talking about because of their disabilities and conditions, which may be physical, mental, both, invisible and/or fluctuating.

You go onto say that "the evidence shows that work is good for people’s health and wellbeing and being out of work is detrimental to it, including for many people with mental and physical disabilities".

Please cite the evidence and research. Indeed, research has shown that some work may be good for some disabled people some of the time. And the evidence shows this needs to be good work, well-paid work and that people need to have control in their working environment. There is evidence to show that poorly paid, menial and inappropriate work is actually detrimental to health. I will speak from my own experience here. I need to be at home most of the time (due to mental health and phobias as well as mental and physical fatigue and other physical disabilities).

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