Tag Archives: model

Concerns over Labour adopting the ‘social’ model of disability are unfounded

Press to open opportunities for people with disabilities: The social model of disability, as adopted by the Labour Party, states that society must accommodate the needs of disabled people, so they can live lives that are as full and rewarding as anybody else.

… Or at least, they should be.

Today, This Writer was contacted by a long-term correspondent, concerned about a passage in the Labour Party’s new manifesto: “Labour follows the social model of disability.”

“The use of that model is at the heart of what is wrong with the assessment process since Peter Lilley got into bed with Unum Provident,” he wrote.

“The man who designed the fatally flawed system, Mansel Aylward has been giving lectures to civil servants and politicians of all parties for decades and is still financed by Unum.

“Having had arguments over the years with many senior Labour politicians they are not as disability friendly as they appear.”

This opinion is based on a mistake that links the social model with the discredited “biopsychosocial” model championed by Mr Aylward, Unum Provident and others (see my many previous articles on the subject).

As applied by the Conservative government (and others before it), the biopsychosocial model has been used to state that the disabilities a benefit claimant seems to have are in fact all in their mind and there is nothing wrong with them at all, or nothing that won’t get better in time.

The extreme expression of this, a few years ago, was the regular recall for reassessment of people who had lost limbs – in the belief that they may grow back.

The social model of disability, as adopted by Labour, is different.

In this model, disabled people are seen as being disabled not by their impairments, but by society’s failure to take their needs into account.

Their disability is not seen as something they are pretending to have; it is seen as something that society should accommodate.

Being disabled is accepted as part of the normal spectrum of human life, and society must expect disabled people to be there and include them, rather than excluding them by denying the existence of their disabilities, denying them the benefits that would help them to cope with the obstacles that can arise for people with those disabilities, and ultimately denying them their lives by depriving them of the means to survive.

For example: if a wheelchair user can’t get into a building, the social model would state that the problem is that there is no ramp, not that the person is using a wheelchair.

This works much better for Disabled people than the biopsychosocial model, or even the medical model, because it means disabled people can access the same, full range of educational, employment, social and other opportunities as everyone else, and have equal lives.

I am happy to put my correspondent’s mind at ease – although we must be vigilant that Labour does, in fact, put this model into practise if that party is elected to form a government.

If anyone else tries to tell you that Labour is betraying people with disabilities because of that phrase in the manifesto, tell them they have misunderstood and direct them to this article.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Liar Damian Green has derided the UN report on disability rights. Does he have a point?

If you're thinking that fibromyalgia is an illness rather than a disability, remember that Damian Green sees no difference. This person doesn't look ill, so he would want to make her - and any disabled person who doesn't look disabled - go looking for a job. But he doesn't look stupid!

If you’re thinking that fibromyalgia is an illness rather than a disability, remember that Damian Green sees no difference. This person doesn’t look ill, so he would want to make her – and any disabled person who doesn’t look disabled – go looking for a job. And he doesn’t look stupid, does he?

Silly question, really – he’s talking nonsense, as the Conservative Party has been since it came back into office in 2010.

Just look at his comments in the Guardian article quoted below.

He claims the UN’s report on “systematic violations of the rights of people with disabilities” presents an “outdated” view of disability in the UK – but fails to identify in what way it is outdated. It seems more or less up-to-date to This Writer, and I know my stuff when it comes to disability and long-term sickness.

It seems to me that he is trying to suggest that the UN’s concentration on the rights of people with disabilities is outdated in comparison with his government’s view, which is based on the biopsychosocial model of disability.

In that case, it is the Tory government’s view that is outdated, as the biopsychosocial model has long been discredited.

Its basis is the belief that many illnesses and disabilities have no physical reality and are instead figments of a person’s imagination. This means they may be told there is nothing wrong with them and sent back to work – which is why Tory policy is about sending the sick and disabled back to work.

The model was developed by the criminal Unum insurance corporation in the US, as a means to avoid paying out when people’s health insurance policies matured. This has been explored previously by Vox Political.

The UN’s view is that the Tory government should focus on ensuring that the rights of disabled people are upheld. Perhaps Mr Green’s problem with such a view has more to do with his government’s plan to strip disabled people of all their human rights, replacing them with a list of things that Tories think we may be allowed to have.

“We strongly refute its findings,” said Mr Green. Oh really? Where is this refutation, then? For clarity, if a person refutes an assertion, they are providing evidence to demonstrate that it is false or wrong. Mr Green provides no such evidence.

He said, “The UN measures success as the amount of money poured into the system, rather than the work and health outcomes for disabled people.” This is a lie.

Only one part of the UN’s recommendations refers to the amount of money spent on people with disabilities – and it does not say anything about whether the UK government currently spends enough.

It calls on the Conservative Government to “Ensure that public budgets take into account the rights of persons with disabilities, that sufficient budget allocations are made available to cover extra costs associated with living with a disability and that appropriate mitigation measures, with appropriate budget allocations, are in place for persons with disabilities affected by austerity measures”.

Mr Green’s criticism is more appropriate directed at himself – he demonstrated that his government measures its success in money terms by telling the Guardian it spends £50 billion a year supporting people with disabilities, and went further by claiming this is a larger proportion of the nation’s wealth than that of Canada, France and the US.

In a nutshell, Mr Green’s arguments are that he does not want disabled people to have any rights, so the UN’s rights-based arguments are irrelevant; that he measures his success according to the amount of money spent on pushing disabled people into work, whether they can do it or not, and that – underpinning his entire philosophy – he relies on an outdated and discredited model of disability, that was originally created to allow a corrupt American insurance company to dodge paying out on its policies.

Put like that, it seems – in this situation – he is the one who cannot support himself.

The work and pensions secretary, Damian Green, has dismissed a critical UN report that concluded that the UK government’s austerity policies “systematically violated” the rights of disabled people.

Green said the report was “patronising and offensive” and presented an outdated view of disability in the UK. He said Britain was “a world leader in disability rights and equality”.

Green said: “At the heart of this report lies an outdated view of disability which is patronising and offensive. We strongly refute its findings. The UN measures success as the amount of money poured into the system, rather than the work and health outcomes for disabled people. Our focus is on helping disabled people find and stay in work, whilst taking care of those who can’t.”

The government said it spent about £50bn a year to support sick and disabled people – a bigger proportion of GDP than countries including Canada, France and the US.

It said the recent publication of its work and health green paper, which included ambitious proposals to increase employment levels among disabled people, was “a turning point in our action to confront the attitudes, prejudices and misunderstandings within the minds of employers and across wider society.”

Source: Damian Green dismisses ‘offensive’ UN report on UK disability rights | Society | The Guardian

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Scotland: Who did you say was the enemy, again?

camsaltire

Vox Political is indebted to Facebook commenter Martin Ballinger, who draws attention to a short article from The Times:

“Downing Street risked Scottish anger last night by reassuring Tory MPs that
public funds given to Scotland would decrease over time.

“The three party leaders vowed to retain the Barnett formula as part of efforts
to persuade Scottish voters to remain in the Union. However, since last
week’s vote, Tory MPs have voiced anger at the funding model, which grants
£1,600 a head more in public money to Scotland than England.

“A source at No 10 said that Westminster would keep to its promise to retain
the formula, but added that it would reduce as Scotland gained more fiscal
powers.”

On the face of it, this may seem perfectly reasonable. More tax-raising powers for Scotland means less need for the rest of the UK to support it from general taxation – right?

But the Scottish population is just one-twelfth that of the whole UK, meaning the tax burden on Scottish people is likely to be much greater, just to receive the same services as before. Think about it – services for a smaller number of people always cost more than for a larger number; that’s why Labour created systems like the NHS to spread the cost of healthcare as thinly as possible.

It seems that, when the dust has settled, the Scottish people will find out that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Are British workers being lured into health insurance that will never pay out?

unum

Working people in the UK could be facing a huge drain on their income, if they join an insurance scheme being offered by a discredited American firm.

It seems that the company behind the hated Work Capability Assessment that has denied disability benefits to thousands of genuinely sick and disabled people, has begun a mass-marketing campaign to encourage able-bodied members of the British public to invest in ‘Income Protection Insurance’, and another scheme known as the ‘Back-up Plan’.

This insurance scheme is only available via the workplace, and it is understood that it has been designed to ensure that the company can resist paying out whenever a claim is made.

In other words, if you join the scheme, you will be giving away your money to a criminal firm. If you become ill or suffer disability in the future, you will not receive a single penny of the insurance money that is due to you.

That is the allegation against Unum Insurance, the American giant that has spent more than two decades advising successive British governments on how to avoid paying sickness and disability benefits to the most deserving claimants in our society.

If you have been contacted in the workplace and offered a chance to take out this insurance, please get in touch. Your experience of this system and insights into its operating procedures could be invaluable.

For those who don’t know the Unum story, you can read some of it here. Unum’s bosses devised their current system to combat the rise of ‘subjective’ illnesses such as ‘chronic pain’, ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease.

The solution devised by the bosses was to reduce the number of successful claims it paid out, by aggressively disputing whether the claimant was ill. So the company skewed its medical examinations to its own favour by questioning illnesses that were “self-reported”, labelling some disabling conditions as “psychological”, and playing up the “subjective” nature of “mental” and “nervous” claims.

The acknowledged basis for this attitude is the Biopsychosocial Model of illness, developed by the psychiatrist George Engel – but it’s a bastardised version, removing the bio- and -social aspects and concentrating on the ‘psycho’. This version of the theory, as used by Unum, has been utterly discredited. It is nonsense, totally disregarding such inconvenient medical procedures as diagnosis and prognosis, or limited life expectancy.

But it proved a great success for Unum – so much so that the UK government sought advice from the company in the early 1990s, when Peter Lilley was running the Department of Social Security. He wanted to reduce the number of disability claimants on his books, and Unum was only too happy to help out. It has been at the heart of disability benefit policy ever since.

We have Unum to thank for the Work Capability Assessment (administered by another private firm, Atos – an IT firm that has no expertise in healthcare, even though that word occasionally appears on its company logo). The recommendations made by Atos representatives, following these assessments, have led to the deaths of at least 73 genuinely ill people every week (according to government figures that are now almost a year old), who have claimed Employment and Support Allowance (formerly Incapacity Benefit). The real figure may be much higher.

The Coalition government considers this to be a great achievement and has now begun expanding the Work Capability Assessment regime to cover claims for Disability Living Allowance, now branded the Personal Independence Payment, with criteria that are much more difficult to achieve.

We can all expect many more deaths to arise from this.

Now, it seems, Unum believes the UK is ripe for bleeding – and that is why it is trying to sell its bogus insurance to working people here.

If you have been contacted, please get in touch.

For further information (with annotations pointing to the really damning evidence) see ‘The Hidden Agenda’ by disability researcher Mo Stewart.

When big business dabbles with welfare; a cautionary tale

unum“Jack Gilligan, who was the Democratic governor of Ohio… said ‘You know there will never be democracy in America when big business can buy both parties and expect a pay-off, whichever one wins. And you know, a touch of that may possibly have spread in this direction.” Tony Benn.

I have been researching the relationship between US insurance giant (and lawbreaker) Unum and successive UK governments – Conservative, New Labour and Coalition – and the minimal research I have managed so far tells me that, if there’s one thing the Labour Party needs to do to ensure its electability in 2015, that thing is the expulsion of Unum and all private insurance firms, their subsidiaries, partner companies, and people who have worked with or for them, from any position of influence. Kick them right out!

Any government that fraternises with these vampires puts corporate profits above the well-being of its citizens. That is clear from what I have read. I want to go into certain aspects in detail, but before that, you deserve to know the details, so I’ve written a little story for you:

Once upon a time, a big insurance company had a little problem. It had been making money hand-over-fist by investing people’s premiums in high-interest portfolios, but interest rates were falling and new kinds of ‘subjective illness’ had arisen, for which medical science was not prepared – ‘chronic pain’, ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease.

The solution devised by the bosses was to reduce the number of successful claims it paid out, by aggressively disputing whether the claimant was ill. So the company skewed its medical examinations to its own favour by questioning illnesses that were “self-reported”, labelling some disabling conditions as “psychological”, and playing up the “subjective” nature of “mental” and “nervous” claims.

“Sickness is temporary,” they said. “Illness is a behaviour – all the things that people say and do that express and communicate their feelings of being unwell. The degree of this behaviour is dependent on the attitudes and beliefs of the individual, as well as the social context and culture. Illness is a personal choice.” In other words: “It’s all in the mind; these people are fit to work”.

Around the same time, a small country had a big problem with people claiming out-of-work benefit because they were ill. This was not a problem because they were lying about being ill – fraud amounted to less than one per cent of claims. Nor was it a problem because too many people were claiming – benefit levels were among the lowest of any countries nearby, and claims were on a par with those other countries.

No, the problem was that the man running the system, whose name was Peter**, wanted to make money out of it.

So he hired the boss of the big insurance company, whose name was John***, and asked him to help out. John said, “We have a great test that you can use! Instead of asking whether someone can do their job, you assess their general capacity to work, with a series of – we call them – descriptors. One could say the person ‘Is unable to cope with changes in the daily routine’, ‘Is frightened to go out alone’. Then the results get passed on to different people – adjudication officers – who judge whether they deserve your benefit. But the clever bit is that these officers aren’t doctors – the customer might be saying they’re sick but medical evidence has nothing to do with what the test is about! We’ll train your adjudicators – for a price. We’ve even got a sexy name for the test: It’s bollocks!”*

Off went Peter to try it and, lo and behold! The rise in claimants came to a halt, as if by magic. But it wasn’t magic. It was bollocks.

Meanwhile, the insurance company was making out like a bandit. Not only was it now at the heart of the small country’s government, it was able to make money from the claimants as well. Before the new rules came into effect, it advertised for customers, saying the new system meant “if you fall ill and have to rely on state incapacity benefit, you could be in serious trouble!”

Before long, the big insurance company found it was even bigger, with a quarter of all its post-tax income being paid by people in the small country.

Meanwhile, back at home, people had started to complain about the big company. It was a big, NASTY company, they said, because it had forced them to accept less when they claimed than their policies offered. The government there found that the big company had relied too much on in-house professionals; had constructed doctors’ or examination reports unfairly, for its own benefit; had failed to evaluate claimants’ conditions in their totality; and had placed an inordinate burden on claimants to justify why they should receive the benefits for which they had paid. Many claims were found to need re-examination.

That did not make a scrap of difference to the people running the sickness benefit system in the small country that had asked for the big nasty insurance company’s help. An election had happened and Peter had been asked to leave, but the new people in charge, Frank**** and Tony*****, were keen to capitalise on what had gone before and transform their welfare system into a new marketplace – a source of revenue, profitability and economic growth.

With help from the big nasty insurance company, they decided that the solution was not to cure the sick – or even to prevent their sickness in the first place – but to convince them that work is therapeutic, aids recovery and is the best form of rehabilitation. In other words, bollocks*. This way, with the help of the big nasty company’s bollocks* tests and adjudicators who based their decisions on bollocks*, they could say the problem was with the person who had the illness. Their behaviour and beliefs became the focus of the government’s moral judgement and action. If they did not change their ways, then sanctions would be used as a “motivational tool” – and people would be starved back into work.

And that, dear child, has continued to this very day! People claiming sickness or disability benefits in the small country, which is called the United Kingdom, have to take a test in which medical evidence plays a tiny role, run by people who are not doctors and judged by people who are not doctors. Many of these decisions have been found to be unfair, and have often been found to have failed to evaluate claimants’ conditions in their totality – which is why people with terminal cancer have been found fit for work. Many claims have been found to need re-examination.

You can see the hand of the big nasty insurance company at work, can’t you!

That is because the big nasty insurance company, which is called Unum, has been at the heart of the small country’s government ever since it was first invited in. And they intend to live happily ever after, at the public’s expense.

“A lot of people think that disabled people don’t have sex, but this is not true, because the government are screwing us hard.” Francesca Martinez, The News Quiz, BBC Radio 4, January 11, 2013.

*I should apologise for the fault in my computer. Every time I try to type – I’ll just cut and paste it in here – “the biopsychosocial model” or any combination of those words, it comes out “bollocks”. Sorry!

**Peter Lilley

***John LoCascio

****Frank Field

*****Tony Blair