Sheila Holt, in the UK, is in a coma for 2 months. She has also just been invited to “intensive job-focused activity” by the Dept of Work & Pensions.
She’s suffered severe bipolar disorder since childhood and hasn’t been in paid employment since 16. Despite her inability to sustain it – with regular traumatic episodes – she was pushed into the Work Programme before Christmas. The stress broke her.
She had a manic episode and had to be hospitalised. While there she had a heart attack and lapsed into a coma.
The Dept of Work & Pensions wasn’t done with her yet though. They’re still pushing.
And while extreme, it is not an isolated case.
Research has been coming out showing that people living in hostels without internet access are being required to apply for 50-100 jobs each week or have their benefits cut – an impossible task. Single mothers of primary children are being told they have to apply for full-time jobs that aren’t practical if they are to raise their own children.
The private companies implementing the UK welfare reform, are desperately trying to hit targets of getting people back to work. At any cost. Early on they were found to have significant corruption, now they’re being found to fail their clients.
Claimants of benefits must have an assessment within 30 days. The private companies are meant to assess 97% of people with in that time but are operating at 55-67% – meaning many who need it can’t claim their benefits, sometimes for months. All this while the private companies charge the government more because they can’t manage their workload.
Here National are looking to follow the same path with using private companies to assess claimants and ‘help’ them back to work. Whilst significant investment in getting people back ready and able for work is needed, is this the way forward?