‘Hostile environment’? The sick and disabled have been living there for years

A protest outside Atos in London in 2017. Atos is one of the private companies that carries out sickness and disability benefit assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.

Some of you may be wondering why This Site is publishing fewer articles lately. The simple answer is: time. I’m trying to fight back against malicious accusations that have been made against me, but the arguments need to be correctly phrased.

So I am grateful that there are people like Mo Stewart around.

Mo has spent years researching the government-engineered (by both the Tories and New Labour) plight of those claiming sickness and disability benefits, and is the author of Cash Not Care: The Planned Demolition of the UK Welfare State, which is available for purchase if you click on the link.

Along with eight other experts, Mo has just had a letter published in The Guardian, reminding us of exactly what the DWP does to the sick and disabled.

It isn’t pretty.


The British public have reacted to “a sense of betrayal of that so-called British value of fairness” (The hostile environment? Britain’s disabled people live there too, theguardian.com, 26 April). This “sense of betrayal” was only possible because the national press reported the plight of the Windrush scandal, but this is not always the case. Some of the press were happy to promote the exaggerated claims of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which, during five years of coalition government, knowingly misled the public regarding “fake” claimants of disability benefit. Coincidentally, disability hate crimes increased by 213% during the coalition’s term in office.

Influenced by a US healthcare insurance “consultant”, who funded DWP-commissioned research used to justify welfare reforms, the work capability assessment (WCA) adopted the bio-psychosocial model of assessment which has failed all academic scrutiny. The WCA is used by the DWP to resist access to the employment and support allowance (ESA) sickness and disability benefit, which is the financial equivalent of jobseeker’s allowance, so there is no financial incentive when claiming ESA.

This DWP assessment totally disregards diagnosis, prognosis, past medical history and all medical opinion. Deaths of genuine claimants were always inevitable. There is a reason why the DWP has refused to publish updated ESA mortality totals since February 2014, as suicides linked to the ESA assessment climb. It’s time for this ideological DWP tyranny to end, and for the national press to stop disregarding another national atrocity impacting on disabled people.

The letter is signed by:

Mo Stewart Independent disability studies researcher 
Professor Woody Caan Editor, Journal of Public Mental Health 
Dr Tanya Titchkosky Professor of disability studies, University of Toronto 
Professor Peter Beresford Professor of citizen participation, Essex University
Dr Marion Hersh Senior lecturer, biomedical engineering, Glasgow University
Dr Dominic Griffiths Senior lecturer in Inclusive Education and SEN, Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr Anne Daguerre Assistant professor in work, employment and welfare, Middlesex University
Dr Simon Duffy Director, Centre for Welfare Reform
Vin West Chair, Arfon Access Group

Source: Disabled people facing government hostility in the UK | Letters | Society | The Guardian

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7 thoughts on “‘Hostile environment’? The sick and disabled have been living there for years

  1. wildswimmerpete

    Sorry to hear that, Mike. I’ve always held the view that there is an army of right-wing trolls financed by the Tory Party who relentlessly attack any left-wing poster.

  2. Simon Cohen

    Interestingly, research shows that the negative image disability claimants and the vulnerable was initially fosters by the Blair administration which should forever hang its head in shame. Even during the Thatcher years, there was considerable sympathy and compassion towards the unemployed and ill. This was turned around from 1997 when obsessive testing and ‘harassment’ was made part of the DWP framework.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Er, the Thatcher years saw an increase in sickness and disability benefit take-up because the Tory government of the day was using it to pretend unemployment wasn’t as huge as it really was.

    2. Jeffrey Davies

      Hmm thatcher hay while being in the higher house had her monies every day we paid for her keep yet she was the start of the destruction of all we now Blair her brainwave to put him and his erk into labour turning it Tory but say say thatcher was a savour of the sick well she hid them away from prying eyes her kind can’t live with enough food to feed her family and a few hols a year they want it all yours has well greed it’s called jeff3

  3. Jeffrey Davies

    Il say once more Aktion t4 at its best culling the stock through benefits denial. Chasing many to their untimely deaths yet those who can shout louder at the crimes against their people’s are persecuted called names that try to deafen their words of the crimes of the government yet until the rest wake up more aktion t4 rolling along without much of a ado. Jeff3

  4. Pat Sheehan

    This ‘outrage’ has been going on for eight years or more and I know of people who are completely unaware of it and others who simply couldn’t care less! In about twenty years hence there will be a big ‘Public Inquiry’, there will be lots of ‘faux outrage’, ‘how could this have been allowed to happen in a civilized society’, ‘amnesty for all those who were involved in the persecution’, paltry recompense for the last of the survivors’, and the usual big speeches in the House of Commons and House of Lords stuttering ‘we will learn lessons from this and it must not be allowed to happen again’! Until next time!

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