Coalition Aiming To Cut The Mentally Ill!


THE government is planning to strip mentally ill people of their state benefits if they do not agree to undergo treatment for anxiety and depression, and then return to work, after some privateer, especially hired for the job, declares that they are ‘fit to work’.

Ministers are at this very moment re-writing the welfare rules so that claimants are required to have treatment as a condition for receiving their benefits.

Coalition ‘thinkers’ are convinced that this approach will save the state billions by reducing massively the numbers of people who have been declared unfit to work due to the mental health problems that capitalism has created for them.

The latest news is that the pilot schemes drawn up by the Department for Health and the Department for Work and Pensions are to be launched within weeks. These will provide the basis for combining the mandatory treatment of mental problems, including anxiety and depression, with appropriate support for returning to work, mainly by the removal of benefits, after the patient is declared to be cured and fit for work by some privateer, especially hired for this purpose.

The government is already bandying about figures that claim to show that 46 per cent of benefit claimants receiving Employment and Support Allowance, the main benefit for ill and disabled people, have mental health problems.

It is already licking its lips at the massive savings that can be made, to be handed to the rich after they have been stolen from those in genuine distress.

The numbers who can be forced to have treatment are reckoned by the coalition to amount to 260,000 claimants, receiving up to £101 per week each in ESA – adding up to £14bn a year.

One of the schemes under discussion will see private organisations outside the NHS and welfare system take control of the provision of a combination of psychological and employment support to claimants.

Another pilot scheme will assess the effectiveness of offering online tests and therapies at improving individuals’ health and job prospects. Using these one adminstrator will be able to stop a sick person’s benefit without even having to see him or her!

Currently, the LibDems are opposed to these measures. Norman Lamb, the LibDem health minister, said mandating mental health treatment for benefit claimants would not work and was ‘not a sensible idea’.

‘The idea that you frogmarch someone into therapy with the threat of a loss of benefits simply won’t work,’ he said. ‘It is not a question of whether tough love is a good concept.’

But as we all know, for example over the introduction of £9,000-a-year tuition fees, the LibDems’ positions are changeable.

We have already had experience of the kind of treatment that specialist companies are likely to give to the sick and the ill.

The now discredited Atos figured in the case of Mark Wood, age 44, who starved to death.

The Daily Mail reported on March 29, 2014, ‘Mark Wood, 44, weighed just five-and-a-half stone when he died after staff from government contractor Atos assessed him as being fit to work – despite suffering from more than seven disabilities and illnesses, including Asperger’s syndrome.

‘His income was cut to just £40 a week in March last year and he was ordered find employment. He died just five months later.’

The Mail continued: ‘Today a spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions confessed the decision was wrong, sparking an internal review.

‘It comes just two days after it emerged Atos is to quit its £500 million contract early following Government criticisms.

‘Mr Wood’s GP Nicolas Ward has blasted the government-backed contractor for “pushing him” before he died. Speaking at an inquest into his patient’s death, he said: “Something pushed him or affected him in the time before he died and the only thing I can put my finger on is the pressure he felt he was under when his benefits were removed.”

‘He added that he was an extremely vulnerable and fragile individual who was struggling to cope with life . . . However, in March last year Atos insisted he was fit to work.’

We have been warned. The trade unions must defend the sick, the ill and the disabled, since, in many cases, they are unable to defend themselves. The coalition must be told that any attack on the mentally ill will be met by strike action by the trade unions as a whole.