The staffing agency will be sold off with the aim of creating a ‘profitable business model’ [Image: Rui Vieira/PA].
Wasn’t the NHS criticised recently for being too reliant on agency staff instead of permanent employees?
Yet now the Conservative Government intends to privatise the main provider of agency staff, in order to create a “profitable business model”.
And the quality of service doesn’t enter anywhere into the Tory calculations.
This is because a nationalised service like the NHS – used as a necessity by millions of people – is an automatic money-maker.
The aim is clearly to rip off patients by providing the worst possible care for the highest possible price to the health service…
… and then claim the service is failing and push it further towards complete privatisation.
But it seems nobody with a vote wants to accept that fairly obvious fact. Why?
The Government is to privatise the NHS’s in-house, publicly-owned provider of agency staff, ministers have announced.
NHS Professionals, the health service’s main staffing agency, provides 90,000 health workers to around a quarter of NHS trusts, covering two million shifts a year.
In a written statement issued on Thursday as most MPs headed back to their constituencies, the Government announced it would sell off a majority stake in the orgnaisation to the private sector with the aim of “creating a profitable business model”.
The scheme was pioneered by Tory welfare slasher Iain Duncan Smith [Image: Getty].
This Blog, and others, has spent years warning that the Conservative Government will spend huge amounts of public money hiding what it is doing.
So the revelation that Iain Duncan Smith spent £100,000 hiding the names of companies that have exploited the cheap, unpaid workers available through ‘Mandatory Work Activity’ comes as no surprise.
It is easy to see why. Between June 2011 and July 2012, the total profit made by Mandatory Work Activity provider companies, charities and councils was nearly £1 billion.
There was no cost associated with that profit, either – at least, not to the organisations involved.
You and I and everyone else who pays any tax at all put more than £16 million into making profits for those companies – as we were paying the benefits of the claimants who were being forced to work, and for far less than the then-minimum wage.
And that’s just for a 14-month period, ending more than four years ago.
Mandatory Work Activity has made many billions of pounds for the organisations taking part, and I suspect the Conservative Party has fared very well out of it, also.
How many of the organisations taking party in the scheme are donors to the Conservative Party – and how much did they give?
You see? It was all part of a nasty plan to spend public money and make a private profit for the Tories – to help them gain an unfair advantage at election times when they will be able to outspend everyone else, no doubt.
That is the purpose of Mandatory Work Activity: Making money for the Conservative Party. And that is why we look down on every dirty organisation that has been taking part.
The Tory government blew £100,000 of public money trying to hide a huge list of firms that used jobseekers for unpaid work.
Tesco and Asda were among household names on a list of 500 companies, charities and councils named as taking part in ‘Mandatory Work Activity’.
The list dates to 2011 but was only released in July – after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) launched an astonishing four-year legal battle to hide it.
Officials claimed releasing the information would hurt “commercial interests” – but eventually lost in the Court of Appeal.
The whole saga cost more than £100,000.
That is because taxpayers had to fund both sides of the court action in a farce branded “worthy of a movie plot”.
The DWP spent £92,250 on lawyers and court fees trying to keep the list secret.
It did so by challenging the government-funded Information Commissioner watchdog (ICO), which had to spend £7,931 defending its case.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams said: “Damian Green said the film I, Daniel Blake was ‘a work of fiction bearing no relation to the modern benefits system’.
“And yet here we have a scenario worthy of a movie plot in which a government tries to hide the truth of its own failings from the public.
“They think nothing of demonising those who need the support of our social security system, a system that is there for any one of us in a time of need, forcing them into unpaid work or using spurious reasons to sanction them to manipulate the unemployment figures.
“At the same time they fritter taxpayers’ money on lawyers to cover up their failings and defend pernicious policies like the bedroom tax.”
Fat and happy: Clearly David Cameron celebrated being elected as Prime Minister for the first time with an extended pie-eating binge.
One thing you can always say about David Cameron – he talks a good fight.
There’s usually no substance behind the rhetoric, though.
His pension is perfectly safe – he has been an MP long enough to have secured the gold standard of UK pensions.
He won’t care about yours.
David Cameron has threatened a Government crackdown on pension providers that are failing to offer all of the freedoms promised by the Conservatives ahead of the general election.
The Prime Minister pledged to keep a “careful eye” on the companies after The Daily Telegraph disclosed that most over-55s were unlikely to be able to access their retirement funds as easily and cheaply as George Osborne, the Chancellor, had promised.
Mr Cameron said that the pensions providers must not use the reforms simply to find “a new way of charging people”.
This week, that criticism was justified: “Evidence shows that differential payments have not stopped contractors from focusing on easier-to-help individuals and parking harder-to-help claimants, often those with a range of disabilities including mental health challenges,” said the PAC report.
“Data from Work Programme providers shows that they are, on average, spending less than half what they originally promised on these harder to help groups.”
Here’s the knockout blow: “It is a scandal that some of those in greatest need of support are not getting the help they need to get them back to work and are instead being parked by providers because their case is deemed just too hard.”
Why is it a knockout blow? Because it is using the language of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan ‘Returned To Unit’ ‘Services No Longer Required’ Smith.
Almost two years ago, on November 22, 2012, that blowhard appeared on the BBC’s Question Time, where he told Owen Jones that his DWP would make sure that nobody stayed parked on benefits.
“I didn’t hear you screaming about two and a half million people who were parked, nobody saw them, for over 10 years, not working, no hope, no aspiration,” he ranted.
And yet, here we are today. “Some of those in greatest need of support are… being parked by providers [chosen by Iain Duncan Smith, no less] because their case is deemed just too hard.”
That day’s article suggested that the government should “adopt a strategy that we all know these companies use in order to boost their profits. Because they get paid on results, they concentrate on people more likely to generate a fee and sideline jobless clients who need more time and investment – a process known as ‘creaming and parking‘.
“It’s time to “park” all the work programme provider companies… The money saved will total billions.”
Alas, VP‘s recommendation fell on deaf ears and we have all paid the price – literally – in the year and nine months since.
Of course, as with all critical reports by Parliamentary committees, the PAC report falls flat where it makes its own recommendations.
“The Department must do more to encourage providers to work with harder-to-help groups by tackling poorly performing prime contractors and sharing information on what works. It should also collect and publish information from each provider on how much they are spending on different payment groups.”
For crying out loud – what’s the point of that? We know that Work Programme providers are never going to do anything other than park people in the ‘harder-to-help’ groups, as long as the taxpayer is funding them for results.
This report says nothing on how ‘poorly performing contractors’ are to be ‘tackled’, therefore that is not going to happen.
And publishing information on how much providers are spending on different payment groups – why? This information will not be made available if it is uncomplimentary to the government. Freedom of Information requests will fall on deaf ears – like those relating to the deaths of ESA claimants.
No, there’s only one way to use this information: As ammunition against Iain Duncan Smith.
He said he was going to help people who had been parked. He didn’t.
He said – to the Work and Pensions committee only yesterday, that the Work Programme was “outperforming” expectations and was “set to do even better”. It isn’t.
Let’s tell everybody we know about this liar. Get him kicked into his own Work Programme and see how he likes it.
Other sites have produced excellent articles on this subject; here are some that have come to VP‘s attention:
Health Secretary Jeremy Misprint Hunt, whose 10 per cent pay rise on his ministerial salary of around £140,000 is safe, said the health service could not possibly afford to add one per cent to workers’ pay. The minimum starting salary for a registered nurse is £21,478; Hunt’s pay rise alone could cover a one-per-cent increase for no less than 65 such nurses, and they are by no means the lowest-paid NHS workers.
The strike has come as The Times newspaper claimed that “senior Tories have admitted that reorganising the NHS is the biggest mistake they have made in government,” with at least £5 billion a year wasted on inefficiencies.
The paper’s online version is hidden behind a paywall, but its front page states: “David Cameron did not understand the controversial reforms and George Osborne regrets not preventing what Downing Street officials call a ‘huge strategic error’, it can be revealed.
“The prime minister and the chancellor both failed to realise the explosive extent of plans drawn up by Andrew Lansley, when he was the health secretary, which one insider described as ‘unintelligible gobbledegook’.
“An ally of Mr Osborne said ‘George kicks himself for not having spotted it and stopped it. He had the opportunity then and he didn’t take it.’
“The admission came during an investigation by The Times that has found at least £5 billion is wasted every year on inefficiences, such as overpaying for supplies, out of date drugs, agency workers and empty buildings, a study carried out for ministers said.”
The report raises several questions. Firstly, if Lansley’s reforms were a mistake, that doesn’t mean Cameron and Osborne would have proposed anything better. Tories are almost universally dedicated to the end of the National Health Service and the worsening of working-class health.
Secondly, if David Cameron did not understand Lansley’s plans, why did he allow them to go through? As Prime Minister, he is responsible for the activities of his government and a lack of comprehension indicates that he is not fit for the role – and never was. Is it possible that Cameron was swayed by the fact that Lansley was his mentor at the Conservative Research Department and he thought he owed a favour?
Thirdly, if Gideon didn’t spot it, what does that say about his abilities as Guardian of the Public Purse? (Actually, here’s a link to an article about his abilities in this regard. Read it and weep, George!)
Finally, and perhaps most importantly: How did the government let the NHS fall into this terrible condition? For the answer, we have to go back, again, to the Coalition Agreement.
The Government believes that the NHS is an important expression of our national values [From this we may conclude that the Tories (and their little LD friends) decided to change the NHS and make it reflect their values]. We are committed to an NHS that is free at the point of use and available to everyone based on need, not the ability to pay [Fail]. We want to free NHS staff from political micromanagement [Fail], increase democratic participation in the NHS [Fail] and make the NHS more accountable to the patients that it serves [Fail]. That way we will drive up standards, support professional responsibility, deliver better value for money and create a healthier nation [Fail].
We will guarantee that health spending increases in real terms in each year of the Parliament, while recognising the impact this decision will have on other departments [Vox Political has just spent several weeks demonstrating to the BBC that this has not happened].
We will stop the top-down reorganisations of the NHS that have got in the way of patient care. We are committed to reducing duplication and the resources spent on administration, and diverting these resources back to front-line care [Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act 2012 was the largest top-down reorganisation ever imposed on the National Health Service. It was also gibberish (as top Tories now concede) and has cost the service more money than it could ever hope to save].
We will significantly cut the number of health quangos [Clinical Commissioning Groups are quangos – so in fact it seems likely the number has increased].
We will cut the cost of NHS administration by a third and transfer resources to support doctors and nurses on the front line.
We will stop the centrally dictated closure of A&E and maternity wards, so that people have better access to local services [The Coalition government has never – let’s have that again: NEVER – refused permission for a plan to close A&E wards].
We will strengthen the power of GPs as patients’ expert guides through the health system by enabling them to commission care on their behalf [This refers, again, to CCGs. In fact, overworked GPs do not have time to plan and commission services, and have handed responsibility over, in most cases, to private health companies. This has opened the way for a huge amount of corruption, as these companies may commission services from themselves. More than one-third of doctors who are board members of CCGs have financial interests in private healthcare (NHS SOS, p 5].
We will ensure that there is a stronger voice for patients locally through directly elected individuals on the boards of their local primary care trust (PCT). The remainder of the PCT’s board will be appointed by the relevant local authority or authorities, and the Chief Executive and principal officers will be appointed by the Secretary of State on the advice of the new independent NHS board. This will ensure the right balance between locally accountable individuals and technical expertise.
The local PCT will act as a champion for patients and commission those residual services that are best undertaken at a wider level, rather than directly by GPs [Fail. This hasn’t happened]. It will also take responsibility for improving public health for people in their area, working closely with the local authority and other local organisations [Fail].
If a local authority has concerns about a significant proposed closure of local services, for example an A&E department, it will have the right to challenge health organisations, and refer the case to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel. The Panel would then provide advice to the Secretary of State for Health [Fail. The right to challenge seems to have been introduced but has been ineffective].
We will give every patient the right to choose to register with the GP they want, without being restricted by where they live [Fail. In fact, the Coalition has given GPs – or rather, CCGs – the right to choose the patients they want, meaning they can exclude patients with expensive, long-term conditions. This has an effect on the promise to provide care to everyone that is free at the point of use, of course].
We will develop a 24/7 urgent care service in every area of England, including GP out-of-hours services, and ensure every patient can access a local GP [Fail, for reasons indicated above]. We will make care more accessible by introducing a single number for every kind of urgent care and by using technology to help people communicate with their doctors [The service was launched in 2013 and was a complete and utter failure – it could not cope with demand on any level].
We will renegotiate the GP contract and incentivise ways of improving access to primary care in disadvantaged areas.
We will make the NHS work better by extending best practice on improving discharge from hospital, maximising the number of day care operations, reducing delays prior to operations, and where possible enabling community access to care and treatments.
We will help elderly people live at home for longer through solutions such as home adaptations and community support programmes.
We will prioritise dementia research within the health research and development budget.
We will seek to stop foreign healthcare professionals working in the NHS unless they have passed robust language and competence tests.
Doctors and nurses need to be able to use their professional judgement about what is right for patients and we will support this by giving front-line staff more control of their working environment.
We will strengthen the role of the Care Quality Commission so it becomes an effective quality inspectorate [The CQC has been rocked by the revelations of one cover-up after another, involving physical and psychological abuse of clients]. We will develop Monitor into an economic regulator that will oversee aspects of access, competition and price-setting in the NHS [Monitor has been turned into the enforcer of the government’s privatisation initiative].
We will establish an independent NHS board to allocate resources and provide commissioning guidelines [This is NHS England, which now takes decisions that would once have been in the hands of doctors. It can intervene in the running of any CCG, forcing changes where they don’t fall into line. It rigidly enforces spending limits].
We will enable patients to rate hospitals and doctors according to the quality of care they received, and we will require hospitals to be open about mistakes and always tell patients if something has gone wrong.
We will measure our success on the health results that really matter – such as improving cancer and stroke survival rates or reducing hospital infections.
We will publish detailed data about the performance of healthcare providers online, so everyone will know who is providing a good service and who is falling behind.
We will put patients in charge of making decisions about their care, including control of their health records [Jeremy Hunt wanted to sell your health records to private companies. Although the scheme was put on hold in February 2014, it seems to be running now. Your health records may already be in the hands of private companies].
We will create a Cancer Drugs Fund to enable patients to access the cancer drugs their doctors think will help them, paid for using money saved by the NHS through our pledge to stop the rise in Employer National Insurance contributions from April 2011.
We will reform NICE and move to a system of value-based pricing, so that all patients can access the drugs and treatments their doctors think they need.
We will introduce a new dentistry contract that will focus on achieving good dental health and increasing access to NHS dentistry, with an additional focus on the oral health of schoolchildren.
We will provide £10 million a year beyond 2011 from within the budget of the Department of Health to support children’s hospices in their vital work. And so that proper support for the most sick children and adults can continue in the setting of their choice, we will introduce a new per-patient funding system for all hospices and providers of palliative care.
We will encourage NHS organisations to work better with their local police forces to clamp down on anyone who is aggressive and abusive to staff.
We are committed to the continuous improvement of the quality of services to patients, and to achieving this through much greater involvement of independent and voluntary providers [Fail. The introduction of independent (read: private companies) and voluntary providers has been a costly disaster].
We will give every patient the power to choose any healthcare provider that meets NHS standards, within NHS prices. This includes independent, voluntary and community sector providers [Not true. The patient never has a choice].
The comments (in bold, above) relate only to a few of the calamities that have been forced on the NHS by the Coalition government (you may be aware of others) – and it is important to add that these took place only in England, where the Coalition has control. Health in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a devolved responsibility but the Tories and Liberal Democrats have tried to influence the provision of services by restricting the amount of money available to the other countries of the UK.
In addition, fears are high that the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the European Union and the United States of America will “lock in” the privatisation of health services, as corporations will be allowed to sue national governments if they impose changes that would affect a company’s profits. These claims have been rubbished by the European Commission and Tory ministers – but they would, wouldn’t they?
In summary: The last four and a half years have witnessed a sustained attack on the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, by a government that won most of its votes on a claim that it would protect and strengthen that organisation. It was a lie that has caused misery for millions – and is likely to have cost many, many lives.
Does anybody remember the Coalition Agreement? This was the document drawn up between the Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties, either in May 2010 or in March that year, depending on who you believe. Did they stick to it?
Of course they didn’t!
The whole thing seems to have been a Con job. A glance through it today reveals inconsistencies with what has happened, deviations… some might even say outright lies. Let’s have a look at a chapter, shall we?
19. JOBS AND WELFARE
This seems an obvious place to start because of the incredibly reckless behaviour of Iain Duncan Smith. Here’s the introduction:
The Government believes that we need to encourage responsibility and fairness in the welfare system. That means providing help for those who cannot work, training and targeted support for those looking for work, but sanctions for those who turn down reasonable offers of work or training.
Experience shows that “help for those who cannot work” meant ending unnecessarily complicating the benefit assessment system to ensure that any evidence supporting a claim of illness is treated with suspicion if not discounted altogether, and ensuring that those on the Work Related Activity Group of Employment and Support Allowance were shunted off the benefit after a year, whether they were better or not. “Training and targeted support for those looking for work” meant work programme providers who were supposed to be helping those on ESA find appropriate employment in fact ran a ‘cream and park’ system in which only those for whom it was easiest to find work ever received serious attention; the rest were left to rot until their term on the benefit ended. For jobseekers, this training involved silly ‘lowest-common-denominator’ education schemes in which graduates were asked to relearn simple English and arithmetic or how to write their CV, being forced into ‘Workfare’ schemes at the taxpayers’ expense while the participating companies made a huge profit, and being pressured into registering with Universal Jobmatch, a job advertisement system that quickly gained a reputation as a home of identity thieves and sex industry predators. “Sanctions for those who turn down reasonable offers of work or training” suffered ‘mission creep’, and very soon people were being sanctioned because they were being offered driving jobs when they didn’t have a licence, or because they arrived for Job Centre appointments slightly late.
Let’s go into the details:
We will end all existing welfare to work programmes and create a single welfare to work programme to help all unemployed people get back into work. Did this ever happen?
We will ensure that Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants facing the most significant barriers to work are referred to the new welfare to work programme immediately, not after 12 months as is currently the case. We will ensure that Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants aged under 25 are referred to the programme after a maximum of six months. We know that those with the most significant barriers were ‘parked’ on benefits by the work programme providers, despite Iain Duncan Smith’s protestations that his DWP was “transforming their lives”. Transforming them into misery, perhaps.
We will realign contracts with welfare to work service providers to reflect more closely the results they achieve in getting people back into work. This never happened. Work programme providers are supposed to receive payment based on results but it seems they are still receiving payment based on the number of jobseekers who get put on their books.
We will reform the funding mechanism used by government to finance welfare to work programmes to reflect the fact that initial investment delivers later savings through lower benefit expenditure, including creating an integrated work programme with outcome funding based upon the DEL/AME switch. What?
We will ensure that receipt of benefits for those able to work is conditional on their willingness to work. Unfortunately this willingness to work has become subject to arbitrary decisions by Job Centre staff, based on the number of people they need to get off their books at any particular time. There is no consistency to it at all, and certainly no justice.
We support the National Minimum Wage because of the protection it gives low income workers and the incentives to work it provides. Can either Coalition party then explain why the minimum wage has suffered below-inflation increases until now, when an above-inflation rise has been programmed in time with a forthcoming general election?
We will re-assess all current claimants of Incapacity Benefit for their readiness to work. Those assessed as fully capable for work will be moved onto Jobseeker’s Allowance. The assessment was based, not on any rational system, but on a regime devised by an American insurance company as a way to prevent people from receiving the support they clearly deserve.
We will support would-be entrepreneurs through a new programme – Work for Yourself – which will give the unemployed access to business mentors and start-up loans. Has anybody ever heard of ‘Work for Yourself’?
We will draw on a range of Service Academies to offer pre-employment training and work placements for unemployed people. Did this ever happen? If it did, how many people have won proper jobs (not part-time or zero-hours positions) because of it?
We will develop local Work Clubs – places where unemployed people can gather to exchange skills, find opportunities, make contacts and provide mutual support. Did this ever happen?
We will investigate how to simplify the benefit system in order to improve incentives to work. This would be the ongoing and exorbitantly expensive fiasco that Iain Duncan Smith calls Universal Credit.
What a catalogue of calamity. Viewed in the Coalition’s own terms, it is easy to see that the Conservative and Liberal Democrat government has done nothing to improve jobseekers’ chances and everything to fatten the wallets of their friends running the sham ‘Work Programme’ schemes or build the profits of the companies taking part in Workfare programmes.
Policies for the long-term sick or disabled have been nothing short of catastrophic, with tens of thousands driven off-benefit and into an uncertain life with no income, either forced to claim Jobseekers’ Allowance (and be refused because they are too ill to work) or to beg from friends and family, or to commit suicide or die quietly of malnutrition. The Department for Work and Pensions conveniently keeps no record of what happens to those who are bumped off-benefit, and is stubbornly refusing all legally-submitted requests for statistics on the number of people who have died while in receipt of benefit.
Bear in mind also that this is just one policy area out of 31, and you start to get an idea of the chaos that has been caused by this single rogue administration.
Their doctors will say you’re not sick: The DWP’s new policy is another sign of disrespect to PROPER health professionals across the UK; their diagnoses aren’t good enough for the Department. It’s bringing its own people in, to pretend more sick people are healthy, no doubt.
Vox Political discussed the appointment of Maximus as the provider of the new ‘Health and Work Service’ – Lord Freud’s latest scheme to stop people claiming ESA by forcing them back to work before they’ve had a chance – in July.
In brief, the company masquerading as ‘Health Management Ltd’ is a front for MAXIMUS, an American company that is already a Work Programme provider here in the UK, meaning there is a clear conflict of interest as described in the previous article. Also, the scheme represents the expansion into the workplace of the bastardised biopsychosocial model of sickness assessment used by the DWP, which we already know is useless.
Now David Hencke has stepped into the fray to tell us what Maximus’ own employees think of the company that will be rolling out its ‘service’ in “Wales, the Midlands and the North before it hits the more affluent South” in the early stages of its 63-month contract.
“If you feared it was going to be a cheapskate alternative to your GP – aimed at using low paid, untrained, overworked people in call centres while maximising its profits for overpaid bosses you are right,” wrote Mr Hencke. “The customer or claimant seems the least of their concerns.”
He quotes several examples, including the following, which is particularly ironic considering the circumstances: “‘At MAXIMUS there is little to no room for advancement or growth. …This company makes unreasonable demands for staff to complete work and unreasonable deadlines. This company does not support personal time off due to family/personal issues.’ (so they won’t sympathise with you if you are sick)”
It seems more than half of the UK’s voting public would be willing to pay more income tax in order to fund the National Health Service.
Pollsters ComRes told The Guardianthat 49 per cent of people would accept a tax hike if the money went directly to the NHS, compared with 33 per cent who would not and 18 per cent who didn’t know what they would do.
This must be very gratifying for David Cameron, whose creeping privatisation of the NHS is at least partly to blame for the increasing deficit faced by the UK’s flagship public service. The Private Finance Initiative, introduced by the Conservatives in the early 1990s, must also take much of the flak, along with a reduced funding commitment from the Coalition government.
(We can’t be sure about the government’s funding commitment. Back in 2010, then-NHS chief exec Sir David Nicholson said it would have to make £20 billion of efficiency savings within four years – but the Coalition Agreement of 2010 promised “We will guarantee that health spending increases in real terms in each year of the Parliament”. However – again – by late 2012 the figures showed a real-terms cut in expenditure which meant the government was not taking its commitment seriously.)
Professor Chris Ham, chief executive of health thinktank The King’s Fund, reckons people want to help the NHS because they have been led to believe that it is starting to struggle financially and clinically, and because they value it very highly.
This indicates that the public has been misled.
Look at the Private Finance Initiative. According to Private Eye (issue 1,369, p34), buying its way out of a PFI contract for Hexham General Hospital will cost Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust no less than £114.2 million. That’s exorbitant enough, but consider this: the buy-out will save around £3.5 million a year on PFI costs over the 19 years the contract would otherwise have had to run.
How badly are PFI contracts crippling the NHS? Well, according to The Guardian, PFI repayments were costing the service £1.76 billion – that’s almost two per cent of the £100+billion budget.
So thank goodness for all the kind-hearted earners who are happy to pay an extra penny from every pound they earn, for the NHS. But that won’t cover the projected £30 billion gap in its finances by 2020.
Taking average earnings to be £26,000 per year (as the government does), then every earner would have to pay an extra 4p in the pound. Tax paid on £26k per annum is 20p in the pound, so that’s a tax increase of nearly 17 per cent or one-sixth.
Earners would be £1,040 per year worse-off. That could put many of them in financial difficulty.
And they would be paying debts accrued by big businesses who wanted to profit from healthcare.
The contract for the new Health and Work Service in England and Wales will be delivered by Health Management Ltd – a MAXIMUS company.
This is triply bad for the United Kingdom.
Firstly, MAXIMUS is an American company so yet again, British taxpayers’ money will be winging its way abroad to boost a foreign economy, to the detriment of our own.
Next, MAXIMUS is already a Work Programme provider company in the UK. The Work Programme attempts to shoehorn jobseekers – including people on incapacity benefits – into any employment that is available, with the companies involved paid according to the results they achieve (on the face of it. In fact, it has been proved that the whole system is a scam to funnel taxpayers’ money into the hands of private firms as profit, whether they’ve done the work or not). Health and Work, on the other hand, is a strategy to slow the number of people claiming incapacity benefits with an assessment system – think ‘Work Capability Assessment’ designed to fast-track sicknote users back to their jobs.
We know from the government’s original press release that it has failed to reach its target for clearing people off incapacity benefit, so it seems that Health and Work has been devised to make more profit for MAXIMUS by ensuring that it can claim fees, not only for the number of incapacity benefit claimants it handles on the Work Programme, but also for the number of employees it ensures will NOT claim incapacity benefits.
It’s a win-win situation for the company and a clear conflict of interest – logically the firm will concentrate on whichever activity brings it the most UK government money. MAXIMUS may claim there are ‘Chinese walls’ to prevent any corruption, such as one activity being carried out by a subsidiary, but this must be nonsense. MAXIMUS will do what is best for MAXIMUS.
Thirdly, we have a new layer of bureacracy to torture sick people who only want peace and quiet in order to get better. Look at what Vox Political had to say about the scheme when it was announced in February:
“‘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 previous article was wrong, in fact. There is a health angle to this.
You see, not only has this been going on ever since the Coalition government established welfare-to-work in its current form –
Not only have government ministers and backbenchers been lying to you about the payouts given to the profit-driven privately-owned provider companies –
Not only have these companies been sucking down on your hard-earned taxpayer cash as though they had done something to earn it –
But the people they were supposed to be helping – people who have been forced into ever-greater poverty by the benefit uprating cap, arbitrary and unfair benefit sanctions, the bedroom tax, the £26,000 cap on benefits for families, the imposition of council tax on even the poorest households (in England at least), the stress of continual reassessment (if they are ESA claimants in the work-related activity group), the humiliation of having to visit food banks and who knows what else…
The people who are desperate to get any kind of paying job, despite the fact that zero-hours contracts could make them worse-off than unemployment, due to the effect on in-work benefits, despite the fact that those in-work benefits are also being squeezed hard, and despite the fact that there are at least five jobseekers for every job that becomes available…
These are the people that government ministers, backbenchers and the right-wing press keep victimising with their endless attacks on “skivers”, “scroungers”, the “feckless”, the “idle” and the “lazy”!
If I was unemployed and my MP had been caught slagging me off while praising these good-for-nothing so-called work programme ‘providers’, I would make it my business to bring them before the public, lock them into some medieval stocks and pelt them with rotten vegetables. Public humiliation is the least they should get for this continual insult to common decency.
But wait! There’s more.
It turns out that, not only are these work programme providers a bunch of lazy good-for-nothing parasites, but many of them are also a bunch of foreigners who’ve come to the UK to take our jobs!
Ingeus is Australian. G4S is part-Danish. Maximus is American.
It seems that all the politically-fuelled and media-driven anger against immigration into the UK from the rest of the European Union and beyond may be designed to distract us all from the fact that foreign firms are immigrating here to take government jobs that should be yours, and to steal your tax money.
Nobody can say they’ve earned it, after all.
But let us not be unfair. It would be wrong to concentrate on welfare-to-work providers when all of government is riddled with foreign interlopers.
Look at the Treasury, where the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms have been re-writing tax law to suit their tax-avoiding corporate clients for the last few years. They are Deloitte (American), PriceWaterhouseCoopers (part-American), Ernst & Young (part-American) and KPMG (Dutch).
And then there is the huge, criminal, foreign firm that has been advising the Department for Work and Pensions on ways to privatise the welfare state since the mid-1990s – a firm so controversial that there is currently a moratorium on the mention of its name in the national mainstream media. It is an American insurance giant called Unum.
The best that can be said of these five corporations is that – at least to the best of our knowledge – they do work for a living.
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