bigleyma is thinking…

The Working Sick: A Hidden Transcript in New Welfare Policy

with 2 comments

I think the first response of those who ‘fail’ the WCA tends to be ‘But I am ill, how can they find me fit?’ Most will then get caught up in attempts to prove this fact. Appeals, tribunals, gathering evidence, pleading your case. Most of the stories on the net revolve around failing then passing, successful or unsuccessful appeals, success then apprehension of future fitness tests.

In engaging in this battle to prove our ill health we fulfil a certain intention (one embraced by the media), a public transcript, which centres on the notion of the supposed separation of the deserving from the undeserving sick. This is a misdirection, in that we are failing to catch a more radical message inherent in the policy that underpins the WCA. This message has been quite overt, Grayling and Gunnyeon have acknowledged that people being moved off ESA onto JSA are indeed sick. That is the point of Grayling stating it is not about ‘failing’. He quite readily, and contradictorily, admits that people ‘found fit’ are to some extent sick. What he is saying, and it is a message that is a departure from previous public conceptions of illness, is that the sick must work.

This message has been overshadowed by the understandable outcry over extremely sick people being found fit for work by Atos Healthcare’s medically qualified servants.
But it is at the heart of this government policy. The sick must now work. Of course it is only the poor sick who must work, because those with financial resources, those who are the least in need of any support, have the luxury of being able to accomodate their illness, take care of themselves and live an adapted life. The poorer sick must ignore their physical/mental impairments, ignore their bodies’ messages and strive to overcome feelings of discomfort, pain and malaise in order to put themselves to work.

The glib idea culled from one literature review assessing the ‘benefits of work’, that Work Is Good For You, does not have sickness as its focus. It proves nothing other than that a lack of income is bad for you, which is to statethebleedinobvious. It in no way demonstrates that sick people in work are better off for forcing more activity out of an impaired body. Reason tells us this. But what this government is doing is not reasonable. It is a blatant attempt to change people’s attitudes to the relationship between (ill) health and work. It is not for the purpose of, as some have genuinely attempted to do, removing barriers to work for the sick and disabled. It is an attempt to remove conceptual barriers that acknowledge limits to what a sick person should be forced to do in order to survive in their society . It is to remove support, both financial and social, from the sick, by removing any obligation on the state to provide this, their side of the social contract.


Written by bigleyma

October 4, 2011 at 9:25 pm

2 Responses

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  1. well ATOS may find people fit for work – but the question remains – where are all the jobs for these now cured ( cos ATOS says so ) people to go to ? where are all the employers willing to take on someone who will probably need a lot of “sick time ” – may well not be ABLE to complete a full day etc – when there are lots of “non nationals” flooding the country and who are young – fit and willing to work for low wages ??

    ANSWER THAT MR CAMERON + CLEGG – you cant and you damned well KNOW IT !!

    this is nothing more than a cynical exercise – scapegoating the sick and disabled of this land , whilst NOT addressing the REAL problems – and if they can’t see them – then they have no business in power – BUT they know what they are but prefer to victimize honest folk who have had the misfortune to fall sick or become disabled


    October 5, 2011 at 3:59 am

  2. I’ve signed on for JSA and realise now that when you are ‘certifiably’ sick/disabled they have someone who is assigned to deal with you and your accepted ‘limitations’. This means you are acknowledged as having a much, much smaller pool of jobs within which to search. So in effect you have had some financial support taken away yet your chance of gaining employment is much decreased, even within as you say Muffie, an already sparse job market. This is the government’s idea of fairness? This is ‘help’ for the sick/disabled?

    I am one of the generation whose official state retirement age has been pushed forward, by four years in my case, (maybe longer if they change it again) so instead of three years of possible employment I now have seven, (with a health condition that is both acknowledged and not acknowledged by the system). They have done this under the argument that we are all staying healthier longer. It’s a bad joke in the worst possible taste.


    October 6, 2011 at 9:32 am

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