Tag Archives: Cornwall

Psychiatrists try to defend failure to speak out on ‘abusive’ Universal Credit project

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has tried to explain its reasons for failing to object to a pilot project in Cornwall in which Job Centre advisors – with no training – decide whether claimants need mental health care.

This Site reported on the project in August:

The department… is trying to cut doctors working on mental health out of the benefit system by claiming that rank-and-file Job Centre advisers are just as able to spot mental health problems – and recommend the best treatment.

They aren’t; they can’t. It’s just a cynical bid to stop people with mental health problems from claiming Employment and Support Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

The Tory government’s press release stated: “The initiative means work coaches can continue to refer people with mental health conditions to specialist one to one support, without the need for a GP or clinical assessment.”

I responded:

“Without the need”? Translation: “Without the support of evidence from a qualified doctor who can bring their expertise to a benefit tribunal.”

The press release said: “The support is also designed to help people find their way back into the workplace when they’re ready.”

I responded:

Translation: “The intention is to ensure that people with mental illnesses must continue to seek employment, whether they are ready or not.”

Disability News Service is now reporting that the Royal College of Psychiatrists has responded to this insult against its practitioners – after being nudged to do so by no fewer than five disability groups.

RCP states, according to the article, that:

RCP’s social inclusion lead has “continued to raise concerns and provide expert advice about the impact of welfare reform on people with mental illness and those with learning disabilities”.

[It says] it is “clear that anyone undertaking a mental health assessment needs to be sufficiently qualified to do so and, as part of the assessment, should engage with clinicians involved in providing care to the person concerned”.

[It also says] RCP believes that a jobcentre would not be “a suitable therapeutic environment to assess and discuss an individual’s mental health”.

[It adds:] “Having to do so would likely increase the stress and pressure on people with a mental illness when seeking support, and the possibility of them seeing the receipt of benefits as being conditional on them agreeing to mental health treatment.

“In addition, there is a risk that being referred to the wrong type of treatment may reduce the likelihood of seeking help in the future, make their illness worse and increase the likelihood of experiencing a future crisis.”

The disability groups are not happy with this response – and rightly so.

Why the delay in responding? Were these psychiatrists hoping the issue would go away?

Is the RCP going to talk to the Department for Work and Pensions about its concerns? Or were its comments just a sop to the disabled people’s representatives?

And what about the people of Cornwall?

What have they experienced while the RCP stood by in silence?

Source: Dismay over psychiatrists’ failure to speak out on ‘abusive’ universal credit project – Disability News Service

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Website whitewash of Cornwall Job Centres is a bad joke for anyone using them

The facts: This graffiti was not painted outside a Cornwall Job Centre but it does accurately describe the way Universal Credit sufferers feel about it.

Vulnerable people in Cornwall were likely to be left reeling in disbelief at the glowing terms in which a web news service has described their local Job Centre.

Is this an outlier of the campaign that saw the free Metro newspaper run a huge – and hugely expensive to the taxpayer – propaganda campaign on Universal Credit over the summer?

The plan – before it was outed by This Site, among many others – was to present the propaganda as a series of news stories, with nothing to indicate that the Department for Work and Pensions was responsible.

It didn’t work.

And the backlash led to revelations that the DWP had been filling local news outlets with similar disinformation, intended to brainwash people into thinking that the overwhelming disaster we call Universal Credit is somehow a good thing.

Judge for yourself whether the article in Cornwall Live is news or propaganda. It states:

“The Jobcentre is the only government department you can come in off the street without an appointment.”

Really? This Writer cannot recall the last time I attended a Job Centre without an appointment – or accompanied anybody else who didn’t have one.

“Services users – known these days as customers rather than benefit seekers – have a set appointment to suit their needs and are met with smiling greeting staff. Waiting times are no more than a few minutes.”

Because “smiling” staff have an opportunity to cancel anybody’s claim if they are late by even a moment?

“Anyone coming through the doors will be met by staff on the ground floor who will help people sign up for Universal Credit or help them find employment but upstairs is another floor with capacity to increase the number of work coaches if required or host job fairs, events and seminars and courses.”

Are people claiming sickness or disability benefit required to attend appointments upstairs? And is there a lift?

“[Jamie Dean, Jobcentre customer service manager for Devon and Cornwall District, said:] ‘Universal Credit is so much better than the previous claim systems. It’s the Facebook of the benefits world. It moves it to the 21st century.'”

Does this mean it stops people seeing the information they want, while trying to take money off them at every opportunity?

“Mr Dean believes the fit-to-work agenda is one that has attracted the wrong kind of headlines when people who claimed to be invalidated off work were seen kite surfing in the Caribbean.”

This reinforces the false claim that people claiming sickness and disability benefits are “shirkers” who have nothing wrong with them.

“But not all disabilities are physical. Mental health, depression, stress can all affect a person’s ability to work.”

And mental illnesses are not taken into account when judging a person’s eligibility for sickness and/or disability benefits. There is no place for them on the computerised, tick-box, point-based system that has been used by the DWP – in the face of the evidence that it is wrong – for many years.

This nonsense goes on and on. Click on the link and scroll down, and you’ll see that it is full of disinformation about the Tory government’s broken-down system.

I have a doubt about this feature. I doubt that staff members at Cornwall Live had anything to do with it beyond putting it on a page.

It looks like an advertorial for the DWP in Cornwall, put together by the DWP to create a false impression of the work it carries out.

I see no information to show this.

It seems a referral to the Advertising Standards Authority may be in order.

Source: Inside the Cornwall Jobcentre and the impact of Universal Credit – Cornwall Live

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Flooding: Why is the taxpayer picking up the tab? There’s an EU fund!

The Conservative response: David Cameron swans around the Somerset Levels in his wellies while local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger (second from left) tries to get a word in edgeways.

The Conservative response: David Cameron swans around the Somerset Levels in his wellies while local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger (second from left) tries to get a word in edgeways.

It seems that David ‘Money Is No Object’ Cameron is unnecessarily forcing British taxpayers to fork out for flood relief while European officials scratch their heads and wonder why he isn’t taking advantage of a huge EU fund that is available to us.

We should all know why the comedy Prime Minister is avoiding Europe – he doesn’t want to lose face.

Eurosceptics in the Conservative Party across the UK criticise our membership because we pay so much in and take so little out (in their perception); this argument would be defeated if Cameron actually used the fund in the manner for which it was created and he would then lose support from members of his Parliamentary party.

Also, at a time when the UK’s future in Europe is being questioned, it would be “politically sensitive” (as Reuters describes it) for Cameron to go there and ask for a handout.

But governments are judged on the way they deal with crises (as the Political Rant blog put it) – and this one has put Cameron, figuratively as well as literally, between the rock and the river.

According to Reuters: “Asked whether Britain would ask for EU money, Cameron’s official spokesman told reporters on Wednesday the government was looking at every source of possible funding, playing down the idea that there was anything political behind it.

“Under EU rules, a country has 10 weeks from the first damage caused by a natural disaster to request aid.

“A person close to Cameron said there were technical grounds to do with spending thresholds that determined when to apply for a grant. Britain had no desire to get into a war of words with Brussels on the matter, he said.”

The news agency added that the government had deployed the armed forces to evacuate residents and shore up river defences, while under fire from critics for what ministers have acknowledged was a slow initial response.

Political Rant is less diplomatic (as you might expect): “Ken Clarke said it was just a normal winter and people complaining about flood defences were just a ‘lynch mob’. Eric Pickles criticised the Environment Agency while the Environment Agency criticised government cuts and Owen Paterson criticised Eric Pickles.

“David Cameron has undertaken several jaunts in his nice clean wellies, first to Kent just after Christmas where he was harangued by people left waist-deep in water without power for a week, then Somerset which he only visited after Prince Charles had been the day before, making it look rather silly the Prime Minister hadn’t bothered, and … to Cornwall where, a friend tells me, Railtrack diverted engineers who were supposed to be fixing the washed-out rail line at Dawlish to shake hands with the PM at a rail depot.

“The same PM has talked sadly about how a power cut interrupted his viewing of The Sound of Music on New Year’s Day while staying silent about two SSE engineers who said they were diverted from reinstating the power for 11,000 people to locate his trip switch.

“When the floods recede, we are more than likely to find a few people who died.”

Yes, and they’ll be in rural areas because the increased funds Cameron has announced amount only to a slightly smaller cut than he had originally intended, and the funding formula for flood defences demands £8 of economic benefit for every £1 spent – meaning a concentration on densely-populated urban areas.

Add to that the fact that Cameron only bothered to act when Conservative-voting areas were affected – the Somerset Levels, Windsor, Reading, Oxdfordshire, Surrey, Kent – and couldn’t care less when the waters were hitting places like Scunthorpe (as revealed on the BBC’s Question Time yesterday) and Cameron has put himself in a serious political mire.

He has made it clear that his is a government that only looks after its own supporters.

Everyone else can drown.

We won’t forget that.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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