Crippen looks at ersatz responses from DWP

Seems as though the likes of Mel Stride, the Secretary of State and the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work are now refusing to answer any correspondence sent directly to them. Instead, they have a team of people crafting sanitised replies which carefully disregard the content and are full of DWP rhetoric and misinformation.

Our good friend Mo Stewart, research lead for the Preventable Harm Project and author of ‘Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state’ is the latest recipient of this ‘non reply’ practice. Her response is as expected, straight to the point and leaving no room for misinterpretation. She writes:

“As is usual with the civil service, your letter content disregards the detailed content of both my letters and emails to Ministers and is therefore unhelpful. I must also advise that your claimed ‘vision in the White Paper is to help more disabled people and people with health conditions to start, stay and succeed in work’ will not happen as long as the DWP continue to terrorise those in greatest need. The so called ‘vision’ is based on right-leaning ideology, has been influenced by corporate America since 1992 and is totally unrelated to the health, wellbeing or to the  survival of the chronically ill and disabled community.”

Mo continues:

“To ‘help’ disabled people into work, whilst disregarding the volumes of published evidence demonstrating the public health crisis generated by adopting a fatally flawed assessment to limit access to disability benefit is very unwise and … unless and until DWP Ministers begin to benefit from the volumes of peer-reviewed published academic papers, by ‘real’ experts from universities throughout the UK, exposing the relentless persecution and identified preventable harm of those in greatest need by the DWP, nothing you have to say to me will be of note.”

In her original letter to the Secretary of State, Mo informed him (again) that regardless of the 4,500 people and organisations who contributed to a DWP consultation regarding the Green Paper at over 40 public events, that number pails into insignificance when compared with the numbers ofchronically ill and disabled people, and their support groups, who are in contact with each other via social media. They do not agree with the department’s many claims.

Mo adds:

 “What is constantly overlooked is the fact that the disabled community’s experience of this DWP “help and support” is via the politics of fear using the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The assessment is conducted by an unaccountable American corporate giant, with the fatally flawed WCA using a discredited BPS model (The biopsychosocial model (BPS) of mental distress) which failed all academic scrutiny. Every clinical lead in the UK demanded that the WCA should be abolished, including the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the British Medical Association, and the British Psychological Society, who all identified the WCA as being unfit for purpose. They were all disregarded by the DWP, as is the growing mental health crisis directly linked to the fear of the next WCA, and the constant DWP threat of sanctions. To date, the DWP have disregarded all published, independent academic research which identifies the ongoing and inevitable public health crisis created by social policies adopted since 2010.

“Happily, the WCA is to be (finally) abolished. However, once again your letter content, and the DWP rhetoric contained within it, demonstrates the DWP obsession with finding paid employment for the disabled community whilst totally disregarding the numbers who are catastrophically ill, will never be fit enough to work, and are relentlessly persecuted by the DWP who adopted a preconception of guilt for all benefit claimants. Many disabled people have died by suicide as their mental health suffered due to relentless DWP persecution, and relentless demands for endless flawed assessments for health conditions that can’t EVER improve.

“By using the PIP assessment for all claimants, you are using another assessment model that is fatally flawed and failed all academic scrutiny. Furthermore, work coaches who have no clinical training are not competent to decide what, if any, work-related activities the chronically ill can or should undertake. Regardless of pending primary legislation, you will not gain the trust of the chronically ill and disabled community until the DWP stops punishing them for being too ill to work.”

And let’s not forget the identified  ‘cultural problems within the DWP extend far beyond the assessment system’, which the DWP continue to disregard!

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

A large machine identified as a ‘Communicator’ is plugged into a selection of responses to emails received by Mel Stride Secretary of State for Works and Pensions. These responses include ‘ignore’ and ‘ersatz reply’. A woman who is operating the machine has several emails around her all complaining about the DWP. As she presses a button, she turns to look at Stride and says: “Don’t worry Sir – we have all of your mail safely under control!”. Stride replies: “Hopefully that includes those from Mo?!”

Mo Stewart is a Fellow of the Centre for Welfare reform and is the research lead of the Preventable Harm project.

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