Round Up: Universal Basic Income links

Make Poverty History poster - Basic Income
Credit: Photo by Russell Higgs

This is a collection of articles and information that I have found about Basic Income, gathered here for convenience. It is not presented in any particular order.

Open Democracy – Through the eyes of a benefits adviser: a plea for a basic income

The New York Times – Switzerland’s Proposal to Pay People for Being Alive

Red Pepper – Time for a Basic Income

Huffington Post – Let’s Close Down the DWP

New Statesman – The most universal benefit of them all

A  Town Without Poverty?

Video – A Town Without Poverty

The Economist – The cheque is in the mail

Business Insider – There’s A Way To Give Everyone In America An Income That Conservatives And Liberals Can Both Love

Ars Technica – Androids are going to take our jobs, and that’s great!

European Citizens’ Initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income

Pieria – Basic Income Vs Capitalism

Pieria – The Wastefullness of Automation

Video – Basic Income, a new human right

Counterpunch – Taking It to the Streets in Spain

A Latent Existence – Basic Income will solve unemployment

A Latent Existence – Why does everyone have to work?

Guaranteed minimum income: how much would it cost? 

Coppola Comment – Economic equivalence: job guarantee and basic income

New York Times – Paul Krugman: Sympathy for the Luddites

Ingeus recruiting “Health Advisors” for DWP forced “bio-psychosocial health assessments”

Ingeus advert

Welfare-to-work provider Ingeus are recruiting Occupational Therapists to become “Health Advisors” as part of a pilot scheme to help people on ESA (sickness benefits) to return to work. As I wrote yesterday, people receiving ESA in the Work Related Activity Group will be forced to see these Health Advisors and will lose their benefits if they do not. This is a huge problem for all kinds of reasons which you can read about in my previous blog postAn advert placed by Ingeus on the website of the Vocational Rehabilitation Association reveals more details of how the scheme will work.

“From 25th November 2013 Ingeus will be delivering a new Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) Health Professional led contract for customers claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) with an 18-24 month prognosis post Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The 2 year pilot programme will ensure clients have access to suitably trained Health Professionals to support the management of their health and wellbeing. We are looking to recruit Occupational Therapists to deliver the ESA pilot across the Central Region.”

It gets worse though. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the words “Bio-psychosocial model” make an appearance.

Delivering bio-psychosocial initial health assessments to identify clients health related concerns and barriers to returning to work, usually taking place via face to face 1:1 appointments but may also require telephone based interventions as well as on occasions a home/community visit.”

The Bio-Psychosocial model of disability is what the government have adopted after decades of being advised by insurance company UNUM. The model basically says that disability is all in the mind of the disabled person and they only need to adopt a better attitude to overcome barriers to work and other activities. It places blame for being ill on the patient and insists that they can just think their way better, as though thinking can eradicate viruses or fix broken genes or regrow broken or missing body parts.

I think access to an extra doctor, nurse, OT or some one else could really be a great help to a lot of sick and disabled people but not through this scheme. Any extra healthcare needs to be consensual and voluntary, this is not. The money spent on this scheme would be far more useful given to the NHS. And as for this scheme using the bio-psychosocial model, you might as well just tell sick and disabled people to “snap out of it”.

Where’s The Benefit: Models of Disability

Vocational Rehabilitation Association: Ingeus advert

Sick people to be forced to talk to the DWP’s own “healthcare professionals”

Sick people to be forced to talk to the DWP’s own “healthcare professionals”

The Department of Work and Pensions has a new scheme to make life harder for people who are too sick to work. The announcement appeared on their website today with the headline “People on sickness benefits will be required to have regular meetings with healthcare professionals to help them with their barriers to work.

This is a trial starting with 3,000 people who are in the Work Related Activity Group for Employment Support Allowance to find out whether it is effective at getting people off benefits. Oh, the claim is that it’s to get people back into work, but getting them off benefits is all the government care about and quote figures for. People will be forced to meet with a “healthcare professional” from Ingeus UK by 2016 as part of this trial. Ingeus UK doesn’t have the best reputation either. Telegraph: Firm owned by Kevin Rudd’s wife faces tax questions in Britain.

From the DWP’s announcement:

People on sickness benefits will be required to have regular meetings with healthcare professionals to help them address their barriers to work – or face losing their benefits – in a two-year pilot scheme in central England which begins in November.

Around 3,000 people in the work-related activity group for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) living in the Black Country, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland, Staffordshire and Shropshire will take part in the scheme.

Dead people don't get benefits
Dead people don’t get benefits – cartoon by @dochackenbush

There are many problems with this plan.

1. Most people already have a “healthcare professional” – their GP, or hospital specialist, or someone else – who is trying to ensure the best outcome for them. Of course what is best for the patient may not be getting them off benefits.

2. I’m pretty sure there’s some consent issues there. If people will be “required” to meet the DWP’s healthcare professional, how can there be consent? Benefits will be withdrawn if the patient refuses, so they may be coerced to have medical treatment against their will. This is definitely not ethical.

3. These healthcare professionals need not be specialists in a person’s particular illness or disability, or even doctors at all. People going through the Work Capability Assessment with Atos often see staff who know nothing about their issues and who make mistakes over easily spotted issues as a result. What happens if an Ingeus UK healthcare professional recommends a treatment that the patient’s own doctor has ruled out? Will the patient be sanctioned for refusing it? Will people die because they tried it anyway?

4. People are often wrongly placed in the Work Related Activity Group, which is for people who are expected to return to work within a couple of years. Many people appeal and move to the Support Group. Many more don’t appeal because they can’t face it, but on seeing staff at the Job Centre are told to go home because they are obviously not well enough to prepare for work. If this scheme is rolled out nationwide then thousands of people will be made to take part when they are not well enough.

5. “Regular discussions with healthcare professionals” are an unacceptable extra burden on people who are already overwhelmed with trying to juggle medical appointments and DWP requirements. Managing an illness or a disability is a full time job which people must get through despite massive barriers, and now the DWP wants to pile a whole load of extra meetings and travel time on them. Like lots of extra meetings won’t make physical and mental health ten times worse.

If you’re one of the people selected for this trial then it is probably worth contacting a lawyer and finding out if you can fight it.

Update: A recruitment ad by Ingeus reveals the use of the fraudulent bio-psychosocial model.