Michael Gove: that’s a Chelsea FC scarf he’s wearing. His love of that team led him to fly to Portugal where he had close contact with people who had Covid-19. He didn’t follow the rules that we must; he put himself on an elite ‘daily testing’ scheme instead, potentially endangering his work colleagues. And now he’s threatening to deny people who don’t have the vaccine access to events like the one he attended. What a barefaced hypocrite.
It’s a classic ‘nudge’ strategy: you want somebody to do something, you make them feel guilty about it.
So Michael Gove probably thought it was perfectly reasonable to say people who don’t want the Covid-19 vaccine are selfish; that they are endangering the rest of us.
'If you can be vaccinated and you refuse to, that's a selfish act' Michael Gove
Trouble is, he‘s the selfish Tory minister who refused to self-isolate after the Covid-19 app on his phone pinged him for close contact with infected people when he flew off to Portugal to watch the Champions League final. Instead, he availed himself of a ‘daily test’ regime available only to a select few.
So he added another stick to poke the non-vaxxers into the vaccination centres: anybody turning down the vaccine may be barred from events he described as requiring a certain level of safety.
Like football matches?
His argument doesn’t work. His own history makes this another “one rule for Tory ministers, a different rule for everybody else” situation.
And if the vaccine is so fantastically good, then the people refusing it will be the only ones likely to die if they catch Covid-19. Everybody else will be protected – right?
The alternative is that there really is a covert reason for making us all have these injections.
Are the conspiracy theorists right?
What are these Tories pumping into us?
So now Gove has gone from making us feel guilty if we haven’t had the jab to making us all worry that the injection is secretly an attack against us.
And what does it mean?
It means if I hadn’t already had my jabs, I’d be seriously considering turning them down. I don’t go out much anyway.
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.
We thought this window-writing was by a child in care. It seems it might have been by a carer instead.
This research shows all the hallmarks of Tory employment policy: early years workers – predominantly female – are considered to be of low worth and paid less than the minimum wage, and have few career options – and the Covid crisis is likely to make matters worse.
It’s Conservative policy, remember: they have victimised women since they got back into office in 2010, with the so-called austerity policies attacking women far more than men.
One in eight childcare workers in England earn less than £5 an hour, according to new research which warns that low pay, high workload and a lack of career development are having an adverse effect on the sector.
The Social Mobility Commission (SMC) report says… as many as 13% of childcare workers are paid under £5 an hour.
The workforce included apprentices, students on placement, volunteers as well as childminders, hence the low hourly rates.
Staff turnover is high at 13%, with one in six leaving their posts within a year, and 37% quitting within two years.
The report also highlights a lack of training opportunities for those who enter the workforce, which is 96% female, with just 17% of early years workers in receipt of job-related training.
Workload is high and the job carries considerable responsibility – more than one in 10 (11%) full-time early years workers reported working more than 42 hours per week, compared to 3% of retail workers.
It’s cognitive dissonance; the job is clearly highly-responsible and stressful, yet the remuneration is pitiful and there are no associated benefits.
Does this not indicate a political decision by the Tories?
That party’s notorious “nudge unit” has long been tasked with pushing people into particular decisions by making the alternative unacceptable.
Apparently they don’t want children to have professional care while we go to work.
Clearly we’ll all have to stay at home instead – or stop having children so we can go to work.
But if we stay home, what will happen to the economy?
And if we stop having children, well, there aren’t enough people working in the economy to support the current number of senior citizens, and that will only get worse if the working population diminishes – as it must in that eventuality.
So it seems that, by allowing childcare workers to be treated so badly, the Tories are deliberately trying to trash the UK economy.
And some of us voted them into office with a landslide in order to do that.
Were these voters ill, or insane, or suffering mass hysteria?
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.
We have been over this ground time and time again.
The Tories are misusing ‘nudge’ theory to justify their claim that people will do what they want, if given the appropriate… incentive.
But they have plenty of information proving that it doesn’t work in this case.
The only reason Tories continue to deny the evidence is: They want to.
They want people to suffer.
They want people to starve.
And they want people to die.
Why is this such a hard thing for voters to understand?
David Gauke claims that the government’s harsh sanctions regime is to ‘change the behaviours’ of people who need to claim support from the welfare state. This is the welfare state that everyone, including those needing support, has funded through the National Insurance and tax system. Gauke clearly thinks that starving people and making them destitute will somehow punish people into working more. He’s riding the fabled rubber bicycle.
A vast amount of empirical evidence indicates that when people can’t maintain their basic living requirements – fulfilment of basic physical needs for food, fuel and shelter, which every human being has – then they simply will not have the capacity to fulfil higher level psychosocial needs, and that includes looking for work.
Gauke tried to imply that more people are working and this is somehow linked to the punitive conditionality regime. However, he chose to completely ignore comments outlining how more people have become homeless, now face soaring debt and face more risk of experiencing mental health problems because of sanctions.
If Gauke was remotely interested in ‘getting it right’, he would have surely paid a little attention to this and other important research findings. However, he seems very happy to operate from within his own and his party’s state of perpetual confirmation bias.
It’s hardly surprising that an authoritarian government using psychological coercion on the poorest citizens by inflicting extreme punishments – in making food, fuel and shelter (basic survival needs) entirely conditional on citizens’ absolute compliance – is causing serious harm and psychological distress to those citizens.
Emerson’s Green Treatment Centre is run by UKSH, owned by Care UK.
It’s bad enough that NHS patients across the UK are being told they can jump the queue for GP appointments by paying to see a private doctor instead.
But now the company running an NHS treatment centre in Bristol has decided to use it for profit as well as service, and is asking GPs in the city to push the service onto their patients.
This betrayal is exactly what we knew was coming; in line with ‘nudge’ theory, the profit-grubbers are nudging us into paying for private health care.
This would not be possible if the Conservative government had not spent the last seven years de-funding the NHS in order to worsen the service and push desperate patients into the arms of the rip-off merchants.
Yes – rip-off merchants. We are already paying for our health care. If the government is pushing us into paying for a profit-making company to provide a service we have already funded, that is a rip-off.
The sooner Labour gets back into office and strips out the parasites, the better.
GPs in Bristol have been given a shopping list of self-paid operations to offer their patients so they can avoid NHS waiting lists.
The operations, while freely available on the NHS, are also being offered by company Care UK for up to £9,000 at their Emersons Green treatment centre.
Care UK, owned by private equity firm Bridgepoint, are one of the largest care companies in the country. They already provide these services for free to patients on the NHS at Emersons Green but they say their new self-pay scheme will let those who can afford it get around “the pressure of growing waiting lists” and gives GPs “greater options to discuss with patients”.
But campaign groups and Bristol GPs have expressed their anger at being asked to recommend the paid procedures – one doctor called it “part of the dismantling of healthcare”.
Southend Hospital had been planning to run a pilot of the so-called ‘Care BnB’ scheme – but has backed down amid criticism.
The Conservatives’ latest privatisation bid for the NHS is about getting poor families to do the jobs of qualified nurses – and seems to be a cynical attempt to take advantage of the plight of Bedroom Tax victims.
The scheme – dubbed ‘Care BnB’ in imitation of the ‘Air BnB’ model it resembles (although other organisations have already adopted that name, so it isn’t entirely suitable) – would see patients discharged after operations and sent to nearby homes to recuperate, with those renting the rooms receiving up to £1,000 a month.
Isn’t it handy that a legion of people have been pushed into poverty by the Tories’ Bedroom Tax, which took 14 per cent of their housing benefit if they were deemed to have one spare bedroom (25 per cent if they had two). How much persuasion would they need to join this scheme?
It is ‘nudge’ politics at its most insidious.
But what would £1,000 a month do to these people’s overall income? How would it affect any other benefits they receive? Would it provide enough to survive? All these factors would also need to be considered, of course.
The scheme is being piloted by a private company, of course, calling itself CareRooms. So money would still be siphoned away from the National Health Service and into the bank accounts of business executives.
But we are told it will still be cheaper than the current situation.
Another concern is the quality of care that the patient would receive. Members of the public are not qualified nurses and have their own lives to lead. What if a complication develops and nobody is there to notice? Who would take the blame if a patient died because the resident was otherwise occupied? It may seem unlikely but I would want these issues hammered out before I went anywhere near such an arrangement.
Criticisms are already flying:
So I couldn't be discharged to my own home (or be paid for my partner to look after me) but could to someone else's? NHS Airbnb madness
Richard Thaler: His theory has allowed the UK’s Conservative-led governments to victimise thousands of vulnerable jobseekers.
It is a travesty that the Nobel Prize for economics has been awarded to a man whose theories were used by the Conservative-led Coalition government of 2010-15 to manipulate unemployed people into inappropriate work.
Richard Thaler’s ‘nudge’ theory acknowledged that people frequently make bad decisions in their lives, thus contradicting one of the central tenets of economics – that people will always act rationally for their own good.
The theory suggests that the way choices are phrased or presented – the ‘choice architecture’ can be framed so that it nudges people towards the most beneficial outcome without restricting their personal freedom.
That is not what has happened. Look at the Coalition’s Behavioural Insights Unit, an organisation originally attached to the Cabinet Office, that used the theory to ‘nudge’ people towards decisions that benefited the Conservative Party and not the individuals concerned.
The best example of this is the fake questionnaire put out by the Department for Work and Pensions to manipulate jobseekers into doing what the Department wanted, rather than what was in their own best interests.
In theory, Thaler may have had a point. In practice, the UK government turned it into attempted mind control.
As the Skwawkbox article in the link above states, the questionnaire was rigged to suggest people had strengths that their answers did not bear out: “Untold numbers of people running around trying to use ‘strengths’ that actually have nothing to do with their actual personality – all under the threat of losing their income if they fail to comply.”
So ‘nudge’ theory was used to lie to vulnerable people, and to threaten them with destitution if they did not do as the Tories demanded.
And for this, the Nobel committee has given Richard Thaler a prize?
A demand for an apology would be better – along with financial restitution for all those whose lives have been blighted – or ended – by the implementation of his theory by genocidal politicians.
Richard Thaler has won the Nobel economics prize for his contributions to behavioural economics.
He championed the concept of “nudging” people, through subtle changes in government policy, to do things that are in their long-term self-interest, such as saving for a pension.
“Richard Thaler’s contributions have built a bridge between the economic and psychological analyses of individual decision-making, said the Nobel committee.
“His empirical findings and theoretical insights have been instrumental in creating the new and rapidly expanding field of behavioural economics, which has had a profound impact on many areas of economic research and policy.”
Iain Duncan Smith can’t prove us wrong. He deliberately refuses to collect the statistics that would confirm his claims – or ours.
Instead, he has claimed that This Blog (and presumably others) has accused him of “outrageous action”, without providing a scrap of evidence against the allegation.
This Writer is delighted that the Gentleman Ranker has tried to defend himself. I am currently working on a book covering this subject and his words may provide an excellent introduction.
The man we like to call RTU (Return To Unit – a Forces description of someone who trained to be an officer but was a washout) was responding to a request for information from Frank Field, chairman of the Commons work and pensions committee.
Mr Field had asked what data the DWP collects on the deaths of benefit claimants, in an attempt to find out whether there is any link between the work capability assessment (WCA) – carried out on claimants of Employment and Support Allowance and the Personal Independent Payment – and suicide, self-harm and mental ill-health.
The issue had been raised in research by Oxford University and Liverpool University entitled First Do No Harm.
This Blog reported on that document’s findings here – and you would be well-advised to refresh your memory of that article before you see the Secretary-in-a-State’s comments.
You should also read Vox Political‘s follow-up article in which a response from the Department for Work and Pensions – attempting to deny the research findings – is comprehensively disproved.
Iain Duncan Smith started writing his letter without a leg to stand on. Here it is – read it for yourself and see if you have any sympathy for his attitude.
Note that he admits the DWP has a “duty of care” to benefit claimants. It has taken years to get him to admit this and it will be very important if – for example – corporate manslaughter charges arise in the future.
Where he says the report’s authors admitted there was no evidence of a “causal link” between the WCA and suicide, he is of course being disingenuous. Iain Duncan Smith would not be satisfied with any evidence other than coroners’ findings that all 590 suicides mentioned by the report were attributed by the perpetrators to the work capability assessment. That was never going to happen.
But the report did examine other causes and eliminated them. While it states there is no direct evidence of a causal link between the WCA and suicide, the deaths certainly aren’t linked to any other cause.
Note also, Duncan Smith’s claim that the lack of a causal link was not reported in the media is not true.
The comment that there is no evidence the people with mental health problems underwent a WCA is covered in This Blog’s follow-up article, but for clarity I’ll repeat it here:
“Jonathan Portes of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) told This Writer that… the DWP’s response ‘reflects a basic misunderstanding of how you do this sort of analysis! Looking at WCA cases would be precisely wrong. You need to be able to control for selection – to do that here, [you] need to look at [the] whole population.
“’Let’s try [an] example. Does Coke make you fat? You can’t just look at people who drink coke & ask if they’re fatter, but if in areas where Coke [is]cheap, [and] people [are] on average fatter, *controlling for everything else*, that does tell you something.’
“So, in order to ensure that the correct cause is ascribed to any particular effect, those who carried out the study had to examine the health of the population as a whole, and eliminate elements that could relate to everybody, rather than just those who took the work capability assessment. They needed to rule out “unobserved confounding” – unseen elements contributing to the results.”
And that is precisely what they did.
Duncan Smith’s assertion that being sent back to work can “promote and protect health, and also reverse the harmful effects of long-term unemployment or prolonged sickness absence” is only accurate if the person doing the work is healthy enough for it – and, by definition, may not be applied to those whose mental ill-health has driven them to suicide.
Inaccurate WCA findings that claimants are “fit for work” or may be “fit for work” within a year of their assessment also mean that many ESA claimants will be sent back into the job market before they are healthy enough. In these cases, there can only be one result: Being sent back to work will make their health worse.
Of course it will; there is a reason they stopped working and claimed ESA in the first place. If that reason still applies, then sending them back to work can only have one result.
Anyone wanting to suggest that a large number of ESA claimants are committing fraud in order to avoid work should remind themselves of the facts: While a TUC survey has shown people think 27 per cent of the ‘welfare’ budget is claimed fraudulently, the government’s own figure is just 0.7 per cent. For ESA claimants it reduces even further, to 0.4 per cent. That’s one person out of 250, rather than roughly one in four – a big difference, especially when one considers the effect on their health of sending an ill person back to work prematurely, as Iain Duncan Smith appears to be advocating.
And then there is this:
The handwriting is appalling so This Writer will try to translate: “NB: There are some out there in the media and social media who have used raw figures to accuse the govt of outrageous [sic] action. I would hope that the committee would not seek to follow suit. I note that having introduced the ESA and the WCA, the Labour Party now seeks to attack it as though they had nothing to do with it. Surely the committee should seek to recognise the good intent of those engaged in this difficult area.”
Those engaged in this area have no good intent whatsoever – let’s get that clear from the start. Their intentions are well-covered in previous articles on This Blog, which I will forward to Frank Field and his committee.
As for “some out there in the media and social media who… accuse the government of outrageous action” – I think he means me.
How nice to have official recognition and how clever of him to describe his own behaviour accurately.
Outrageous action? That’s exactly right.
Iain Duncan Smith’s department practises ‘chequebook euthanasia’ – WCA assessors use psychological ‘nudge’ techniques to push the mentally-ill towards suicide in order to reduce the “burden” on society caused by these “useless eaters”.
Even Frank Field – chairman of the work and pensions committee who contacted Iain Duncan Smith over the Oxford University and Liverpool University allegations – has raised concerns about this behaviour:
It is outrageous.
Even more outrageous is the fact that Iain Duncan Smith is trying to deny it.
The government’s Nudge Unit team is currently working with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health to trial social experiments aimed at finding ways of: “preventing people from falling out of the jobs market and going onto Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).”
“These include GPs prescribing a work coach, and a health and work passport to collate employment and health information. These emerged from research with people on ESA, and are now being tested with local teams of Jobcentres, GPs and employers.”
This is a crass state intrusion on the private and confidential patient-doctor relationship, which ought to be about addressing medical health problems, and supporting people who are ill, not about creating yet another space for an overextension of the coercive arm of the state to “help”people into work.
The callousness of Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions hit a new low this week when it was revealed that officials have been asking terminally ill benefit claimants when they expect to die – including those who don’t know death is inevitable.
Frank Field, the new chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, started his tenure incisively when he demanded an explanation from the Gentleman Ranker.
He said he had seen evidence of two such cases in his own constituency and added “I dread to think how often this is happening around the country.”
The DWP’s response – not Duncan Smith’s; he’s nowhere in sight – has been to deny everything (of course): “Claims from people with a terminal illness are fast-tracked using ‘special rules’, where we pay the highest rate of care immediately without a face-to-face assessment.
“All claims are dealt with fairly, sensitively and compassionately by specially trained staff – they do not ask specifics around life expectancy.”
It just doesn’t ring true, does it?
Here’s the background information, courtesy of The Guardian: Individuals claiming for a personal independence payment (PIP) under the “special rules terminally ill” procedure submit DS 1500 forms signed by their doctor – forms that need to be signed if the patient is regarded as suffering from a terminal illness.
“The DS 1500 asks for factual information and does not require the doctor to give a prognosis. It should contain details of the diagnosis, including whether the patient is aware of their condition and, if unaware, the name and address of the patient’s representative.
“It should also set out the current and proposed treatment, and brief details of clinical findings. A doctor is expected to believe that the patient is likely to die within six months, but once the form is submitted the Department for Work and Pensions decision-makers are not expected to challenge a patient about the expected date of death, or question a patient who is not aware the doctor has declared their illness to be terminal.
“The claimant, once found by the doctor to be terminally ill, is not supposed to meet any qualifying period for a claim”, and should get the highest rate of payment.
Clearly, if the DWP is questioning people in the date they expect to be dead, this may include those who have not been told they are going to die.
“In one case my constituent’s mother was asked by when she expected her daughter to die and in front of her daughter,” said Mr Field.
“This has left my constituents feeling understandably very upset. They tell me they are appalled by the hardness of the questioning and its intrusiveness.”
He has demanded a copy of the guidance that could have led PIP assessors to think this line of questioning was legitimate.
This Writer thinks he may be in for a long wait.
Is this yet another example of the DWP’s secret ‘chequebook euthanasia’ policy – asking questions that ‘nudge’ claimants towards death in order to clear them off the books sooner and make an early benefit saving?
It seems that the Department for Work and Pensions is sticking to the ‘Adolf Hitler’ model of public relations: If you tell a big lie and repeat it often enough, people will believe it. The press release announcing the new ‘Health and Work Service’ is riddled with long-debunked old lies – and one new statement that deserves our scrutiny.
This is the press release used by the BBC in its article on Saturday, telling us that the new, privately-run service is needed to combat the high cost of long-term absence from work.
It seems to be the DWP’s new practice to pass announcements to – let’s call them “trusted” – media outlets before putting them up on the government’s own press website, as a kind of test-run, allowing any credibility problems to be fixed before the government commits itself in an official way.
That’s why the announcement appeared on the government website yesterday (Monday) – two days after the BBC broke the story. Now – in just half the time it took to appear – let’s look at why it’s a load of rubbish.
“As many as 960,000 employees were on sick leave for a month or more each year on average between October 2010 and September 2013, the government has revealed,” the document begins.
Oh really? The DWP reached this figure by applying the findings of a survey, showing the ratio of long-term absences to total days of sickness absence, to findings by the Labour Force Survey showing the total number of days of sickness absence in the UK. That’s 9,000 sick days and 70 absences, applied to an average of 120 million sick days per year. This is based on 2,019 interviews with employees. There’s just one problem.
Considering the huge size difference between the sample surveyed and the body it represents, it seems unlikely in the extreme that the figure is accurate. If it is right, it would be by luck; it’s probably wrong. The figure might as well have been made up – and you should treat it as though it was.
“The government has already taken big steps in getting people on long-term sick benefits back into work as part of the government’s long-term economic plan, with almost a quarter of a million coming off incapacity benefits since 2010-” Let’s stop there and examine the information content of this sentence so far.
The “government’s long-term economic plan” is a phrase that is being shoe-horned into every press release possible and means nothing. There never was a “long-term economic plan”, and there isn’t one now. Have you seen it? Of course not – it doesn’t exist. This is just a comforting nonsense inserted to lull people into false security that somebody knows what they are doing; I suspect the newly-privatised “nudge” unit may have had something to do with this.
As for “almost a quarter of a million coming off incapacity benefits since 2010”, check out this interview with Iain Duncan Smith, published in the Telegraph & Argus in 2010. He said: “I intend to move 1.5 million off incapacity benefit by 2014.”
That is a long way from a quarter of a million, and only around one-tenth of the Secretary-in-a-State’s 2010 target.
“- and almost a million who put in a claim actually have been found fit for work.” This is a bare-faced lie. It relates to a statement that 980,400 people were judged capable of work between 2008 and March 2013, but there are two problems with this. Firstly, it does not take into account the number of successful appeals against the ‘fit for work’ judgement (125,700); when adjusted to account for these, the total drops to 854,700. Secondly, this refers to the cumulative number of ‘fit for work’ outcomes of initial functional assessments since October 2008, and it seems likely that many people will have made repeat claims after being knocked off-benefit by an adverse decision. We do not know how many people have done this. Therefore the figure is meaningless.
So far, the DWP has told us that working people get sick (no surprises there), that it has failed to reach its target for clearing people off incapacity benefit and that its work capability assessment system is failing to push as many off-benefit as it should, because it is riddled with errors.
How does this connect with the creation of a new ‘Health and Work Service’, dedicated to ensuring that people who spend more than four weeks at a time off work with an illness get back into their job with a minimum of difficulty?
It’s obvious, isn’t it?
This is a scheme to ensure that people are discouraged from claiming incapacity benefits; the idea is that a drop in new claims, coupled with the number of uncontested ‘fit for work’ decisions, might lead to a larger drop in the number of active claims – which means the amount of money being paid out in benefits would also drop.
Inclusion of the word ‘health’ in the title of the new service is misleading, as it seems unlikely that consideration of an employee’s physical condition will have anything to do with the aim of the exercise.
Look at what the release has to say: “The Health and Work Service will offer a work-focused occupational health assessment and case management to employees in the early stages of sickness absence.”
It continues: “The work-focused occupational health assessment will identify the issues preventing an employee from returning to work and draw up a plan for them, their employer and GP, recommending how the employee can be helped back to work more quickly.”
Health doesn’t get a look-in.
No, what we’re most probably seeing is an expansion of the “biopsychosocial” method employed in work capability assessments, in an attempt to convince sick people that their illnesses are all in their minds. Don’t expect this approach to be used for people with broken limbs or easily-medicated diseases; this is for the new kinds of ‘subjective illness’, for which medical science has not been prepared – ‘chronic pain’, ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’, fibromyalgia and the like.
People with these conditions will probably be sent back to work – with speed. Their conditions may worsen, their lives may become an unending hell of pain and threats – I write from experience, as Mrs Mike spent around two years trying to soldier on in her job before finally giving up and claiming her own incapacity benefits – but that won’t matter to the DWP as long as they’re not claiming benefits.
That is what we can all expect from the new ‘service’.
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