24 August 2009

In the Papers...

I was giving the headlines a once over this morning and this story about new job support for MH people in the UK caught my eye. I was left wondering exactly what they plan to put in place and wondering, thought not through the insufficiency of detail in the article itself, whether this is a genuine or a cosmetic effort. Has anybody heard anything more substantive about this?


  1. It's all part of a 'national strategy' to assist people with mental health difficulties stay in/retun to employment and goes in hand with the last and upcoming welfare reform bills. I believe this article is referring to pilot studies undertaken with the help of charities such as MIND to offer more workplace support between employers and employees such as making 'reasonable adjustments' (e.g working hours and facilities) to the workplace to enable those with difficulties to sustain empolyment. As regards those out of work due to mental-health disabilities, there has been a massive push to involve mental health charities, the national helath service and private enterprise to work with jobcentre-plus (that's the UK benefit agency) to help improve measures to get people back into work or work realted activites. Last October we saw the end of 'incapacity benefit' (income support or those incapable of work) replaced by the new 'Employment and Support Allowance' which introduced measures and potential sanctions for a sub-group of disabled claimants deemed capable or work-related activites (e.g 6 monthly interviews with an advisor to look at training, voluntary work, child care etc). Short courses of CBT and 'Condition management' have been pilotted for long-term sick/incapacity claimants and, so far as I'm aware, been launched in various regions in the UK.
    It's difficult to be more specific as at present much of this is in the planning and pilot phase but it does go hand in hand with more worrying potential cuts to benefits for those out of work along with some of the non-means-tested disability benefits (a bit of a side issue to do with the reallocation of social care in the UK).
    Personally, I am on the side of the initiative to support long-term disability claimants return to work but am concerned about the element of compulsion introduced into the new benefits (e.g having money cut off for not attending intervies/courses etc).
    As I said, difficult to be to specific as much of this is in pilot stages and I have had pleasure to consult with various regional organisations involved in this project but would be wary of generalising conclusions nationwide.
    Of course cynnical minds would regard this as government initiative to clamp-down on benefits and force disabled people into compulsory (low paid) work. In defense (and I'm not normally someone to defend government) I think they should take a look at some of the in-work benefits such as the tax-credit system and the disability-premiums plus the additional non-means tested benefits before they continue to complain about this government's sadistic treatment of the disabled.
    Sorry, this was verging on a rant. I should write my own post!

  2. No apologies: I was really hoping you'd comment on this one! I figured you probably knew a bit about it from your work, and thank you.