13/07/14 A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. Winston Churchill.

Today, I woke up to one of the most venomous and malicious attacks on folk with mental health problems I think I’ve ever read.

So, congratulations to Tim Ross at the Daily Telegraph for that

It’s quite a short piece, so let’s have a GCSE in media studies walk through…

Tories discuss stripping benefits claimants who refuse treatment for depression’

Well, that’s got your attention, hasn’t it? Refusing treatment? How dare they…?

Senior ministers now believe the rules should be reviewed in order to reduce the “huge” numbers of people who are declared unfit for work due to mental health problems.’

Some people,who may or may not be in government, are too afraid to put their names to the unmitigated balderdash that follows…

“Huge” being any number you can think of that isn’t “small” …which actually means…

We don’t have any real figures to back this up, but that’s never stopped us in the past.

‘Hundreds of thousands of benefit claimants face being stripped of their state allowances if they refuse to undergo treatment for anxiety and depression, under radical plans being drawn up by ministers.’

Ok, here our courageous hack, Tim, realises that the lack of real figures detracts somewhat from his otherwise perfect piece – so he inserts a vague figure for those Telegraph readers who can’t imagine ‘Huge’.

He also introduces us to the notion that these people don’t want to get better.

Even more imaginatively he’s suggesting that there’s more than enough treatment to go round.

‘Existing welfare rules mean it is not possible to require claimants to have treatment, such as therapy or counselling, as a condition of receiving sickness benefits.’

Yep, there’s millions of scrounging bastards collecting benefits off the back of hard working tax payers…

‘Senior ministers now believe the rules should be reviewed in order to reduce the “huge” numbers of people who are declared unfit for work due to mental health problems.’

Er…but these, er ministers refuse to have their names mentioned in this made up, er, well researched, piece of seamless prose…

‘Huge’ remains, like, you know, a really massive number. We can’t give you the actual figures because of, er, confidentiality.

‘The first moves towards potential reform are expected in a series of pilot schemes to be launched within weeks.’

They’re going to try out some ill conceived draconian measure in some labour strongholds – hopefully Scotland – before they manage to bugger off.

The pilots, jointly designed by the Department of Health and the Department for Work and Pensions, will test ways of combining treatment for mental health problems with support to find work.’

Arbeit macht frei.

‘According to the government, 46 per cent of benefit claimants receiving Employment and Support Allowance, the main benefit for ill and disabled people, have mental health problems.’

According to someone I’ve never spoken to/ doesn’t exist/ still refuses to put their name to this hateful piece of fiction, a number of folk – shit, how do I make this sound believable? Er, 46 sounds like it hasn’t been made up…let’s go for that…

‘This means that the proposal to enforce treatment could apply to an estimated 260,000 claimants, who receive up to £101 per week each in ESA.’

We don’t have any actual figures, but I’m sure you’ll agree, 260 thousand is a really huge number…unless ,of course, you’re wondering how many bicycles there are in Beijing…

‘Estimates based on government figures suggest the state spends up to £1.4 billion a year – more than £3.5 million per day – on ESA for these claimants with mental health issues.’

So, based on the made up figures that nobody is willing to put their name to, these scrounging bastards are robbing you blind.

‘The reforms however, would apply only to those claimants judged to be capable of some work in future.’

Shit, this sounds harsh even by our standards – quick, let’s get a bit feely-touchy before we lose all our voters…

Small question – er, how would they measure this? ATOS? Son of ATOS?

‘Those who are judged to be incapable of work due to the severity of their conditions would not be targeted under the plans.’

WHAT???? Even by the government’s own statistics – around 0.5% of disability benefits are claimed fraudulently.

‘Tory ministers hope to persuade senior Liberal Democrats to back the idea of mandating treatment for benefit claimants with common mental health problems.’

The Liberal Democrats think this idea is just more hateful bollocks.

‘The proposal will raise ethical questions about whether the state should have the power to force patients to undergo treatment.’

I wonder if we can get away with this…hold on, don’t we already have mental health legislation that forces people with mental health problems to undergo treatment? Er…don’t ask me, I’m making this up…

‘It could lead to a fresh row with campaigners and charities who have claimed that the coalition’s welfare reforms already target vulnerable people with poor mental and physical health.’

I think that makes this story sound a bit more balanced…So, which campaigners and organisations? Er…I dunno…I know they’re a bunch of left wing moaning hippies though.

‘Conservatives could include the proposal for mandatory treatments in the party manifesto next year as part of the next phase of reforms to the welfare state.’

If we’re voted in for a second term that’ll give us Carte Blanche to blame those who are sick, vulnerable, disabled…everyone apart from Our Friends, the Bankers, (soon to be a Ladybird book near you) for this financial car crash we find ourselves in…

‘A senior government source said “a huge number” of claimants on ESA who cannot work have treatable mental health issues such as “depression and anxiety”.’

Do you think if I say “Huge” enough times people will start to believe it? This information comes from the same bloke I met in the pub the other night…

But, er, won’t this alert the public to the fact that only 13% of the NHS budget goes towards mental ill health; that over 6000 people take their own lives each year in the UK – an increase of 1000 following the tight squeeze of austerity; that people with mental health problems, unlike people with physical maladies, don’t have a guaranteed waiting time of 18 weeks between diagnosis and the beginning of treatment; that there are thousands of people with medically diagnosed mental health problems who have received no treatment whatsoever for their condition because of shortages and further cuts in services…?

Look, if we can blame the poor for being poor, then it’s going to be a pretty easy task to blame the mad for being mad – fish in a barrel…

‘ “We know that depression and anxiety are treatable conditions. Cognitive behavioural therapies work and they get people stable again but you can’t mandate people to take that treatment,” the source said.’

Er…if all these conditions are treatable, doesn’t that make it particularly poor that these therapies aren’t being offered to the people who suffer from these maladies?

Look – the treatments are there, people just need to search for them…

Isn’t that what you said about employment when there are 2 million too few jobs?

I think you answered your own question there – if people will buy the worklessness argument, they’ll buy anything.

‘ “But there are loads of people who claim ESA who undergo no treatment whatsoever. It is bizarre. This is a real problem because we want people to get better.’


‘ “These are areas we need to explore. The taxpayer has committed a lot of money but the idea was never to sustain them for years and years on benefit. We think it’s time for a rethink.’

Er…who exactly are you quoting here?

And isn’t ‘rethink’ the name of a mental health organisation…?

Don’t you see that’s part of the plan?

People will think they’re endorsing our, er, product…

“At some point something has to be done. Right now it’s an open ended contract.” ‘

But doesn’t that just continue to pedal the myth that disability benefits are just handed out without any proof and without any time limit ?

Will you be quiet, I’m on a roll here…

The source suggested that successful treatments could reduce the numbers of people with mental health issues claiming the benefits by up to 90 per cent.’

90 PERCENT???!!!What wonder treatment is this? And why haven’t people been receiving it up until now?

I, er, hmmm…confidentiality?

‘Benefit claimants receiving ESA, are typically paid up to £101 per week if they are deemed potentially capable of work and are placed in the so-called “work-related activity group” of welfare recipients.

If they fail to abide by conditions such attending work-focused interviews, their ESA payments can be reduced as a sanction. No conditions are currently applied requiring claimants to undergo treatment for health problems.’

But there’s a massive shortage in appropriate treatments for people with mental health problems…

Sorry, I meant ‘Huge’.

‘One trial began last month, looking at combining “talking therapies” with employment support. Four jobcentres are taking part.

The intention of the scheme is to give benefit claimants early access to experts who can help them prepare for work while they are receiving treatment for mental health issues.’

Hold on, is this the same scheme that was piloted by the last incumbents of Downing Street in 2009

Whatever became of that idea?

Three further trials being launched this summer are intended to test different ways of linking mental health services with support for benefit claimants seeking work.

One of these schemes is designed to analyse effectiveness of “group work” to help build the “resilience” of individuals who are out of work and suffering with poor mental health.’

Er…isn’t this the same government that closed down most of Remploy – an organisation that supported people with a variety of disabilities to work; the same government who had to change the law in order to close down the Independent Living Scheme – a fund that, again, supported people with disabilities and/ or mental health problems to live full lives – full lives that included employment?

The same government quoted by the BBC

‘The High Court has ruled emergency laws underpinning a government back-to-work scheme are “incompatible” with the European Convention on Human Rights.’

Why let a few facts get in the way of…

‘An other trial will see whether better results can be achieved by hiring specialist private organisations outside the NHS and welfare system to take control of providing a combination of psychological and employment support to claimants.’

We are not privatising the NHS.

‘A final pilot scheme will assess the effectiveness of offering online tests and therapies at improving individuals’ health and job prospects.’

This really is as shit as it sounds.

‘Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem health minister, said mandating mental health treatment for benefit claimaints 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.

“You actually need someone to go into therapy willingly.”‘

A leading government minister suggests that this whole idea is a pile of shite…

Walk a mile


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