Sunday, 20 November 2011

Please sign the sickness and disability petition.

With more and more evidence emerging of DWP policy making being influenced by companies which stand to profit from the erosion of provisions for sick and disabled people, it's vitally important that Lib Dems make a stand against government proposals which will be incredibly damaging to some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Just this week there have been proposals to hand responsibility for sickness notes from GPs (who know their patients and their medical history) to panels run by private companies which will have a financial interest in making the process as simplified as possible and therefore more susceptible to potentially devastating errors - it may be cheaper and easier to train someone to fill in a tickbox form than hire an experienced medical professional but the cost to people whose conditions don't fit neatly into boxes will be immeasurable. Personally I think a far better solution is providing better training to GPs but I'm not the one writing the report.

And the reason for this proposal are statistics showing some people are given sickness notes despite not having anything physically wrong with them - completely missing the fact that people can have mental and psychological problems which make them unfit to work.

This week MPs also debated the proposals to cap the amount of money in benefits that people can receive - despite the fact that it will hit disabled households the most given that they, naturally, receive greater amounts of benefits due to having greater need for support than most people.

So this is why it's vitally important that you sign, and get everyone you know, to sign the petition to ask the government to stop and review the impact of benefit changes to sick and disabled people:

All the big disability charities are backing it, including charities like Scope, MIND and the RNIB. The Greens are backing it and so is Compass. Labour and the Conservatives are ignoring it. So please, please, please sign this petition and ask your friends, colleagues and families to sign it as well.

Thank you.

UPDATE: Turns out that the co-chair of the committee producing the aforementioned report works for an organisation funded by Atos Healthcare - a company which already runs ESA assessments for the government and which would be the logical choice for the "independent body" to handle sick notes.


  1. Carerwatch? As a full time carer (something one carerwatch member disputes exists) and someone that is still being stalked online by one of their members then I'm not interested in the slightest in any petition they run. It's also funny that although many of their members dislike charities yet seek their support? Hypocritical b@stards that they are.

    And the Lib Dems are supporting the benefit reforms, so that makes you equally hypocritical?

  2. Sigh. Yes Clive, supporting a petition that would mean a debate on the issue of disability benefits in parliament is meaningless simply because it's a carerwatch member who started the petition.

    And yes Clive, by asking people to sign a petition on an issue which I've been concerned about and working on for months makes me a hypocrite.

    Now please kindly do your trolling elsewhere. Thank you.

  3. George,
    As you know undoubtedly, Dame Carol Black Chairs the Select committe on Occupational Health and the Council for Work Health.

    What people may not know is that the Commercial Occupational Health Providers Association(COHPA) have seats on both groups.

    COHPA was founded by Atos.

  4. @Anonymous

    Thanks, that's actually mentioned in the link in the update to the blogpost.

  5. Thank you George for your tireless work in supporting us.

  6. Hi George,

    As one of the volunteers helping Pat raise awareness of her petition, I would like to say thank you for your piece here.

    Having also followed the work you did with Sue Marsh re ESA at the LibDem conference, you give some of us hope for a better future.

    When young men/women like yourself engage with those affected by government policy, listen to the actual problems and try do something about it, there is a glimmer of hope that one day we will see a better class of politician.

    I wish you luck with your own future and will follow your progress.


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