Posted by frances
on 19 June 2009, 9:42:05 AM
I have now watched four Grand Committees in the Lords on the Welfare Reform Bill. Hour after hour the LibDem Lords are fighting for the vulnerable. They fight the forces ranged against them. NewLabour send one Minister with a flight of civil servants and the Tories send one shadow Minister briefed to push their agenda.

The fight is simply defined.
The fight is between compassionate care versus ‘what’s compassion –does it cost me money’.

Compassion is represented by the NHS, the mental health services, the social services and the LibDem Lords who care. The LibDem Lords sound as if they have actually met vulnerable people and tried to help them. Ranged against them are the NewLabour and Tory Ministers who have invented an artificial vulnerable person who responds to being kicked by toughening up and no longer being vulnerable and is now able to do what he is told to do which is get a job. NewLabour and the Tories see vulnerability as a one way street that costs money and delivers nothing back and their paid contractors will be paid to go in like wheel clampers and deliver the wishing away of illness and any other ‘barriers to work’.

They will identify the barrier to work and together with the customer draw up a plan to overcome it. If the barrier is an enduring illness the advisor has been trained on a three day course in ‘managing your illness for work’. Nothing but nothing is a real barrier to work, wheedles the Minister, every barrier to work can be overcome if you go on the appropriate course. I know quacks and snake oil salesmen aren’t new but the one who sold the Minster on this magical all purpose cure is a genius. The worse the illness the more the Minister feels the customer needs his help. He can’t abandon people and let them continue to be ill.

The battle lines are drawn with the public services – the NHS and Social Services on the side of helping and caring and the private sector being brought in to bully, run boot camp, threaten and drive off benefits. They do it so well. They are like paid mercenaries who pursue your enemy – no questions asked.

Is anyone interested. Is anyone watching. The vulnerable are being disappeared and re-educated in to workers. The processing is intact with no escape tunnels. At every level the vulnerable are read their responsibilities and what is expected of them in return for £62 a week. If they have cognition problems the responsibilities are read to them again probably in the age old tradition of Empire slowly and in a louder voice. Then they agree an action plan with the advisor and after that they are ‘directed’ to do it and warned if they aren’t complying and given five days to show good cause for non compliance and then sanctioned with loss of benefit. This probably works in prisons but for a mentally ill person who may not be functioning, opening letters, able to leave the house or speak to other people – it’s going to take all the efforts of social services, carers, CPNs to deal with the DWP and keep the sick person out of hospital.

This is absurd. Absolutely absurd. A battle between compassion and fascism played out between public services paid for by us and private contractors paid for by us and the weapon of choice is vulnerable, mentally ill people.

This is the most significant moral legislation we have ever seen. Why is every one looking the other way?