The research that successive governments have relied on to justify slashing disability benefits over more than a decade is riddled with inconsistencies, misleading statements and “unevidenced” claims, according to three disabled academics.
A new article by Professor Tom Shakespeare and Professor Nicholas Watson, and fellow academic Ola Abu Alghaib, concludes that the biopsychosocial model of health (BPS) “does not represent evidence-based policy”.
The BPS under-pinned Labour’s out-of-work disability benefit employment and support allowance (ESA) and the work capability assessment (WCA), which has since been linked repeatedly to relapses, episodes of self-harm, and even suicides and other deaths, among those who have been assessed and found fit for work.
BPS has also “played a key role” in the tightening of eligibility criteria for ESA and other disability benefits by the subsequent coalition and Tory governments, including the new personal independence payment and universal credit, even though there is “no coherent theory or evidence” behind it, say the three authors.
The BPS was developed by Dr Gordon Waddell, an orthopaedic surgeon, and Professor Sir Mansel Aylward (pictured), who was chief medical officer for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) from 1995 to 2005.
Their article, Blaming The Victim, All Over Again: Waddell And Aylward’s Biopsychosocial (BPS) Model Of Disability, is published by the journal Critical Social Policy.
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