Monday, May 19, 2008

Britain on the Sick - Panorama

Tonight's Panorama, Britain on the sick leaves a rather unpleasant taste in the mouth. Clearly biased and pushing the government agenda of Arbeiht Macht Frei, it focused on various Incapacity Benefit claimants from Merthyr Tydfil an area with particularly high numbers of people in receipt of the benefit.

It would be foolish to deny there is a problem with both benefit fraud and the high levels of people claiming benefit but the focus of the programme was the so called 1 million. Those people receiving Incapacity Benefit whom the government claims to be able to get off benefit and into work by 2015.

Various people in receipt of benefit living in Merthyr Tydfil were interviewed from the single mum with learning difficulties suffering from post natal depression to the shining example couple. Calvin who had not worked since 1988 and his partner Karen who was described as long term unemployed because she'd stayed home to raise her family. (watch out home makers, you're clearly the next to be labelled scum)

The government were described as placing blame on to the GP's for signing people off in the first place, and things like the Pathways project held up as shiny examples of job seeking wonderfulness. Long term readers of this blog (and others more well known) will know just how wonderful the government's much hyped job brokers really are, but there was no mention of that issue or the equally problematic access to work. In fact people with complex adjustment needs were conspicuous by their absence too.

Not for a moment do I deny that benefit fraud is a problem, or that we have too many people receiving benefits, but if the issue is actually to be addressed then it must be done properly. The government need to stop sending out the message to society that those in receipt of benefits are unworthy scum and accept the challenges are more complex than they currently choose to imagine.

Once those who are easy to place in work have been creamed away from the vast majority of claimants who will find it much more difficult if not impossible to enter a workplace ill prepared and unwilling to accept them, whoever is in power will be left with the stark realisation that their Pathways programmes and job brokers have been no more than a phenomenally expensive sticking plaster over a hidden wound of rationed 'care', lack of access to NHS services and equipment and a system so failing to support the most vulnerable it makes work remain an impossible dream.

17 comments:

cogidubnus said...

I'm afraid I wasn't able to watch this particular piece of government sponsored shite... but as soon as I saw the programme advertised, I thought of you...

You're sadly quite right about "Arbeit Macht Frei"...but as such a really heavily taxed society our Sun-readers do need scapegoats to explain why all those billions are escaping the exchequer, (nah nah nah squire, none of it's going to Afghanistan and none at all went to Iraq, did it mate?)...not to mention all those government-sponsored inefficiencies and parliamentary fiddles...

...shame you're not Jewish too, otherwise we could get the Foreign Office involved too, but we can't have everything can we?

As a true British (Aryan) worker (Gordon-style) you clearly just can't have EDS, (probably a non-existent "syndrome" anyway), therefore, you're obviously just ducking work...pull yourself (and your joints) together !

I give up BG...how far can sarky invective go? Lots of love for the months to come...

Elaine said...

Another excellent post.

How can the BBC demand Licence money from the population, when it is simply a mouthpiece for overnment propaganda?

Lil Jimmy said...

Once those who are easy to place in work have been creamed away from the vast majority of claimants who will find it much more difficult if not impossible to enter a workplace ill prepared and unwilling to accept them ...

This is the crux of the matter. I was on benefits and it was as though I was not a human in people's eyes. Then I found work and the smiles began.

Anonymous said...

I just watched the ITV Lunch Tine news. There was a feature about Benefit Fraud. Chris Choi, the correspondent mentioned a guy fraudulently claiming "Mobility Benefit" and obviously wasn't entitled as he owned a Mercedes.

Would this be the same 'Mobility [i]Allowance[/i] that is not a benefit but an allowance to help Disabled people live a normal (as possible) life?

You know the motability component of DLA that is non means tested.

Sloppy journalism yet again...and yet again kicking the most vulnerable in society.

Buy hey as long as the MPs get nice fat allowance for redecorating their offices and huge expenses. Lets all get the Disabled guy who may well have owned the car before he became sick...or it may even be a second hand rust bucket.

Laugh or cry? I had no clue either.

Lex. xx

LceeL said...

This is what happens when the government loses sight of its principles. The notion was and should be "Using the Common Wealth for the Common Good". It is not comforting to see that you Brits are suffering through this same kind of greed and avarice in government and poor government policies that we are dealing with here in the States.

Mr. Nighttime said...

So explain to this American about the Pathways project. Is this essentially what we would describe as a "welfare-to-work" program? Is it the the program itself that is flawed in terms of its structure, or is it the beaurocracy that runs it the problem?

Yes, we have the same problem here in the states, though it is something that is institutionalized in both the public and private sectors. The problem is that, the government makes it so difficult for legitimately disabled persons to get assistance, that people wind up going broke, or worse while they wait for approvals. We have something called SSDI, short for Social Security Disability Insurance that is run by the government. I know many people in the organ transplant community who are legitimately disabled, who had to hire lawyers just to get through the red tape involved to get approval for benefits.

Yes, there are those who abuse the system, some mercilessly. It just seems that the gov't is either unable, or unwilling to screen them out at the start. It seems they only get them after they have been sponging off the system for far too long.

frogpondsrock said...

Disability support services here in Tasmania are on the verge of collapse.
I was watching the 'news' last night and they mentioned adopting parts of the British system, whereby someone in receipt of disabilty support payments can negotiate to receive extra funding to pay for their own specialised care/carers.
I know that Casdok has done this with 'C'..
But that is all that I know..

Does this type of payment system work? Or is it just another band-aid solution? *sigh*

(((hugs))) Kim

Nicey said...

Its madness, don't get me started and the BBC well Grrrrrrr

having my cake said...

It's the usual story isnt it. The really needy just getting tarred with the same brush as those who misuse the system. And claimants who are just numbers rather than real people with real disabilities. It seems to be all paperwork when it should be hands-on interaction with the people themselves.

I wont watch this type of investigative journalism type programme any more.

Dave said...

Is that right?
We can blame you because they've got to give you the money and they don't have any to buy bullets for our soldiers?

Arbeit macht frei.
This is just the beginning

I'm with Captain Swing on this one

transfattyacid said...

The BBC has a dreadful record with regard to disability - and on the issue of invadility benefit in particular.

I guess we're just going to have to put up with being called scum - Labour ain't gonna change - unless of course they go the whole hog and gas us - in which case we'll get due warning by watching the subtle propoganda change on the BBC.

Midnight said...

I think you have to accept that the BBC and other media are always looking for a news worthy story on any given topic.

For example they are always going to give more emphasis to abuse of Iraqis in Abu Graib than to soldiers who help to build a new school.

Benefit abuse is a massive problem and a drain on finite resources. There are many people who choose to abuse the welfare state in this country and unfortunately the genuine claimants often get tarred with the same brush.

mr_colt said...

The current Lab/Con "Lets attack the disabled and chronically sick." Is a good ploy.

After all, when elections are due in a few years: Why not find the least well-represented group of people in soceity and lambast them as scroungers in the yellow tabloids?

After all, the agencies that represent them can barely afford to fight back on paper and online. I think that The Disability Alliance only got a single 15sec slot so far this year to fight back against David Freud and the DWP.

Whereas the government pretty much gets free airtime and uses taxpayer's money to attack us almost daily.

Quite how some think I live a life of luxury struggling on about £5320Incapacity benefit a year is unbelieveable. If I'm lucky, I might have my DLA tribunal before my unsecured debt to cover rent, council tax etc reaches £2k!

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BenefitScroungingScum said...

Cogi: Exactly, and it's far easier for both the govt and media to keep pushing the agenda that benefit claimants are all scum draining the economy. Sadly as that's far from the reality there will be alot of very pissed off people when the inevitable happens, all these schemes end up as costly failures and we're still left with the problem of a benefits culture.
Jewish, foreign office, erm, have I missed something there? And have you been investigating my family tree?! ;) BG x

Elaine: Thank you, and funnily enough that's exactly what I was thinking when I watched it! The BBC's attitude to disability is horrifying, especially notable in Eastenders (I'm a closet fan) with a hearing actor playing a deaf child and a clearly able bodied little girl playing a paraplegic in a wheelchair so much too big for her she can't propel the damn thing. Actually, now I think about it, maybe they are reflecting reality more accurately than first appears!

Lil Jimmy: Exactly! Not that you'll here as much as a whisper of that in the govt agenda. It's particularly gutting as it means there is no consideration for home working, no realistic links with employers etc. I'm glad things did work for you, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed they'll soon get sorted again. That's whilst being deeply jealous of you being in Sicilia of course ;) x

Lex: That's one that really annoys me too! Not only is DLA non means tested, but last time I bothered to look, mercedes were available via the scheme-that is for those able to afford the large deposit it requires. The way the media behave over this issue does harm to everyone.

Lou: Sadly it seems to be happening in most places :(

Mr Nighttime: Despite all the problems, I'm very grateful to live in the UK and not USA, it seems horrifically difficult to get any kind of assistance there.
Pathways to work is essentially a programme designed to help disabled people into the workplace. The problems to me seem to be with both the structure/design of it and the implementation. There's no real understanding of the issues disabled people face, it seems to have been set up with the premise that everyone on benefits is scrounging for reasons like 'stress' or a bit of a sore back. Of course that means that for anyone with complex issues (in the vast majority) it's completely unable to cope. I've asked several times about working from home, which is something I'm convinced would enable far more disabled people to work, but always been told that isn't really something they do, and to apply for typical home working jobs such as stuffing envelopes. As if!
If the programme was set up correctly with good links to employers and recognised that with technology there's no reason people can't work from home I'm sure it would make quite a difference. And probably be cheaper too.

Kim: That sounds like direct payments. It's a service I used to receive until I was reassessed and told I didn't need any help anymore.
Direct payments is, or could be great. It's basically the money you would receive to employ (buy equipment/services) rather than it being directly provided by the local authority. The main problems seem to be that there isn't enough money given to pay for the req'd insurance, tax, NI etc and pay at least minimum wage. It also puts the full liability as an employer onto the individual user without the protection employers typically have, so some disabled people have been taken to all sorts of employment tribunals with no funding or support from the authorities. In my area there have been particular problems with the council contracting out the advocacy/support side of things to a 'disability rights' agency who refuse to help anyone, even when they have been well paid for it.

Nicey: Precisely! Madness that costs the tax payer more money!

Cake: Exactly. I shall have to stop for the sake of my blood pressure I reckon!

Dave: I think you are right, it's only set to get worse. The New Statesman article I linked to (Is Labour abolishing illness) has comments from someone perfectly seriously advocating involuntary euthanasia for anyone on benefits for 12 months! It has to be read to be believed

TFA: No need to gas people, its messy and yucky when all they need to do is refuse benefits. People will die thus helpfully reducing the NHS bill too. Cynical, moi?

Middy: Indeed, and yes benefit fraud is a major problem, but misleading tax payers into thinking any of these proposals will improve the situation is outrageous.
I've started to watch Al-jazeera UK news lately for a more balanced world view-the differences in what and how things are reported are simply incredible.

Mr Colt: exactly. If you'd like to send me your story I'll publish it here. Anonymised of course.

Alison said...

Very good post, sadly I came across true Benefit Fraud and thinking I was doing my job which the council paid me for they where reported… big mistake it ruined my life and I would turn a blind eye against Benefit Fraud now!

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Alison: Hello and thanks for your comment. I'm really saddened (but not surprised) to hear about that, if you'd like to email me with the details (anonymised) I'd be very interested in posting about your experiences here. BG x