Workfare coercion in the UK: an assault on persons with disabilities and their human rights – Anne-Laure Donskoy

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Anne-Laure Donskoy
is an independent survivor researcher, this paper was published by the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) for mental health, which is an independent, service-user-led charity that connects people with experience of mental health issues to give us a stronger voice in shaping policy and services.

In a report, titled Workfare coercion in the UK: an assault on persons with disabilities and their human rights, she provides an in-depth consideration of psychocompulsion as a series of state-sponsored human rights violations. I recommend that you read this discussion in full.

She writes: While there is a lot of focus on coercion organised and implemented in psychiatry, less attention is being paid to state engineered welfare measures based on libertarian paternalism, which have coercive practices at their core. Among them are policies that strongly support behavioural change using positive psychology and cognitive behavioural therapy. Freidli and Stearn (2015) call this ‘psychocompulsion.'”

“The narrative of welfare is changing drastically. As Friedli says, we are moving from a “what people have to do [to find work] to what they have to be [demonstrating the right attitude to be employable]”. This is exemplified through the new ‘Work and Health Programme’ planned to be rolled out in England and Wales. This programme has many strands, including:−

  • Embedding psychological services within Job Centres
  • Placing ‘job coaches’ within GP surgeries for people with certain conditions (specifically people with mental health issues): the ‘Working Better’ pilot scheme is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and the coaches will be provided by welfare to work agency, Remploy (a welfare-to-work subsidiary of the Maximus).”

She goes on to say: “It has come to light that these new programmes are also the subject of ‘research’.The new Work and Health Programme is currently at a research and trialing stage. As Kitty Jones writes, “Part of the experimental nudge element of this research entails enlisting GPs to “prescribe” job coaches, and to participate in constructing “a health and work passport to collate employment and health information.”

However, this ‘research’ (if one can call it so), has been heavily criticised because it is not sanctioned according to the usual robust ethical guidelines. Research that adheres to robust ethical guidelines would absolutely seek not to cause harm to its participants,and would seek their informed consent beforehand. This is not the case here where claimants are the participants, involuntary and ‘unconsented’, of an experiment they know nothing about, “There are a wide range of legal and Human Rights implications connected with experimentation and research trials conducted on social groups and human subjects.”

A spokesperson for Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC), talked of the UN CRPD Committee’s visit to the UK and described the situation thus: It means the UN will examine the vicious and punitive attacks on disabled people’s independent living as well as the cuts which have seen so many placed in inhuman circumstances and has led to unnecessary deaths.”

There is a more, and also, a very detailed and important consideration of the implications of current UK policies within the context of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) throughout this excellent article.

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Related 

Cited on the article:

https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2015/11/28/the-goverments-reductive-positivistic-approach-to-social-research-is-a-nudge-back-to-the-nineteenth-century/– The idea that it is both possible and legitimate for governments, public and private institutions to affect and change the behaviours of citizens whilst also [controversially] “respecting freedom of choice.”

https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/the-department-for-work-and-pensions-dont-know-what-their-ethical-and-safeguarding-guidelines-are-but-still-claim-they-have-some/

Friedli L, et al.MedHumanit2015;41:40–47. doi:10.1136/medhum-2014-010622

http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/coroners-ground-breaking-verdict-suicide-was-triggered-by-fit-for-work-test/

(amongst other work)

Watch – And This time its Personal Psychocompulsion & Workfare from wellredfilms on Vimeo.

Other related:

Cameron’s Nudge that knocked democracy down: mind the Mindspace

Let’s keep the job centre out of GP surgeries and the DWP out of our confidential medical records

Nudging conformity and benefit sanctions

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17 thoughts on “Workfare coercion in the UK: an assault on persons with disabilities and their human rights – Anne-Laure Donskoy

  1. Thanks Kitty.

    The link you supply to ‘discussion in full’ is returning an error?

    The one directly above it does work however.

    Do they link to the same document?

    Thanks

    Like

  2. Hi Sue,
    Really honoured and totally surprised that you had picked up my “paper” on workfare coercion… Happy to share it… It was written fairly quickly to add to Tina Minkowitz’s campaign on the absolute prohibition on forced treatment. I just took a different angle and did what is really an overview. This paper and the other testimonies from around the world were submitted to the UN CRPD Committee meeting in Geneva at the end of March.
    Regards.
    I am an I’m not a member of NUSN’s survivor researcher network but the paper was indeed picked up by NUSUN. I am an independent survivor researcher…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, I will correct the bio part, sorry about that! Thanks for the feedback. It is an excellent interview. The overview is invaluable to raise awareness of these issues and delighted about the UN submission, because that is crucial. I have also regularly sent submissions to the UN, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No worries…. I sent you a message via facebook a couple of weeks ago I think… 😉
        I am not holding my breath too much re UN… Parts of it still takes an extremely paternalistic view on issues of human rights for persons with psychosocial disabilities but “every little helps” as the ad goes…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s probably gone into the “other” folder on facebook… but will fnd you and send a FR 🙂

        I was also honoured, btw that you had read some of my work.

        I know what you mean about the UN, but hope that when it comes to policy, especally the welfare “reforms”, clear violations of the CRPD will be highighted and recommendations follow.

        Liked by 1 person

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