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We regret to inform you that the disabled will be mugged by their government (twice)

By DeusExMacintosh

This is going to be a longer and much sharper post than I had originally intended. What first came to mind was an open letter to the new Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, pointing out a simple £50 million cost saving to the welfare bill, but then yesterday the new coalition government handed down its emergency budget [PDF] to tackle the massive deficit facing the UK.

Underpinning the Goverment’s approach is a commitment to fairness. The Government will ensure that every part of society makes a contribution to deficit reduction while supporting the most vulnerable, including children and pensioners. The Government will also seek to build over the long term a fair tax and benefit system that rewards work and promotes economic competitiveness.

Unfortunately in their attempt at “fairness” the government has ensured that 1.25 million people with disabilities, generally considered one of the most vulnerable groups in society, is set to be hit twice as hard as anyone else.

As with my previous posts on Welfare in the UK, I’ll begin with a declaration of interest. I am one of those 1.25 million who stand to be particularly disadvantaged by the new Conservative/LibDem coalition economic policies. Please forgive my frankness about my financial situation, but as most of our readership tend to be employed professionals it will help to explain why the current choices will actually raise welfare costs rather than reducing them. As someone on benefits my right to privacy is generally considered moot anyway.

I have peripheral nerve damage with symptoms that prevent me from working. Because I was employed for several years prior to becoming disabled I was eligible for taxable Incapacity Benefit to replace my income up to £91.40 a week. Due to the limits of my disability this was not considered “what the law says you need to live” and disability premiums meant I qualified for additional means-tested Income Support up to a total of £147 per week. This is higher than the basic rate of Jobseekers Allowance (£65.45 per week) due to the added living costs related to travel and personal care, but is slightly lower than the minimum wage. It meant submitting extensive medical evidence from my Neurologist and GP together with satisfying a Personal Capability Assessment in order to qualify. For several years I was then required to submit evidence of my continuing incapacity (using form IB50) on an annual basis. I simultaneously qualified for Disability Living Allowance at the Higher Rate of Mobility and Middle Rate of Care, money meant specifically to meet the additional costs of disability – for example, buying a car or wheelchair (mobility scooter in my case) for those who are virtually unable to walk or pay for assistance with personal care such as meals or help with laundry. After several years of reapplying on an annual basis (requiring the completion of 60 pages of intrusive personal detail each time) AND failing the medical first time around, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) eventually accepted that my physical problems can only get worse and made the DLA award permanent.

That was then, this is now.

One of the first acts of the coalition after the general election was the announcement that they intended to continue with the abolition of Incapacity Benefit, begun by the previous Labour administration. Eighteen months ago, new claimants began to apply for the Employment and Support Allowance, targeted to those with disabilities and long-term health problems and paid at two levels. The Support Group are accepted as being unable to work and receive a means-tested income indefinitely. Those placed in the Employment Group are thought capable of rehabilitation to employment within 2-5 years so they receive a lower income and are subject to compulsory workfare and ‘support’ programs. Eligibility is currently determined by a new, far stricter Work Capability Assessment and cursory “medical assessments” conducted by the private company ATOS, which has resulted in huge numbers of appeals of which 40% are successful. The new government has already vowed to accelerate the process of forcibly migrating existing recipients of IB across to ESA (or Jobseekers Allowance) from October this year. There are presently 2.65 million people in receipt of IB and even if the appeals rate only equals that of new applicants, and appeal times remain in the six-month range, the entire system is liable to collapse.

For me, the move from Incapacity Benefit/Income Support to even the highest earning Support Group for ESA means reducing my income by £28 a week, plus I’ll get hit with the consumption tax (VAT) rise to 20% on most of my living costs. The DWP will need to calculate very carefully how much of this potential £3.5 billion saving will actually survive once appeals are added to the budget for administration costs. (And believe me, I DO expect to appeal.)

My cheat to saving £50 million pounds (and possibly the system) comes from DWP research that shows there are 1.25 million people just like me who currently receive Incapacity Benefit AND Disability Living Allowance. This is significant because the Work Capability Assessment used for the various health-based benefits has pretty universal parameters that assess claimants ability to walk, sit, lift and rise etc. to a standard points system.

Even with the significantly tougher WCA standards required by ESA, people who now receive the Higher Rate Mobility and either Higher or Middle Rate Care components of DLA should still qualify. All have had to submit extensive medical proofs of their condition from both personal GPs and specialist consultants, most have to reapply or submit proof of continuing disability on a regular basis, and since the early 90′s many have already been subject to a medical assessment by the same company now responsible for ESA examinations, ie. ATOS. Simply accepting that those in receipt of DLA have sufficiently proven their medical status and transferring them to ESA would save at least £50 million pounds. This is achieved by multiplying the £40 ATOS pays its ‘medical professionals’ for each assessment by the 1.25 million people who are already receiving DLA on top of Incapacity Benefit. Savings would obviously be much greater than this given the difference between what ATOS actually charges the DWP per assessment and what they pay the doctors, nurses, midwives and physiotherapists currently doing the interviews (no vets as yet, but it’s probably only a matter of time). Not to mention the significant reduction in appeals that would result, even if the auto-migration was only to the Employment group of ESA.

That seemed a pretty easy £50 million to me, and a neat solution to the administrative nightmare and potential cost blow-out that haunts the promised migration process.

I decided to reserve my post until the emergency budget was announced in case a similar thought had already occurred to our cash-strapped government. Instead we got THIS:

From 2013, those seeking disability living allowance (DLA) will have to go through a strict new medical assessment to help “reduce dependency and promote work”, with many current claimants set to lose out under the new regime.

The benefit will not be reduced but the government estimates the move will save £1.4bn by 2015, suggesting many of those seeking support will be turned away.

Some 2.9 million people are currently eligible for DLA, three times as many as when it was introduced eighteen years ago, chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne said while delivering today’s budget, at a cost that had quadrupled in real terms to over £11bn. The medical assessment would be a simpler process than the “complex forms” claimants must fill in at present and would allow those with the greatest needs to continue receiving the benefit, while “significantly improving incentives to work for others”.

That’s right. Having put the 2.65 million people who receive Incapacity Benefit through this particular wringer once, the 1.25 million of us also receiving DLA get to do it all over again in 2013 which is when the ESA migration is meant to be completed. Like a guess as to who gets the contract?

No, actually I DON’T think that is fair. “Grandfathering” those of us still on IB and allowing a million of us to age out of the benefit naturally over the next decade would be fair. Reducing my income by £28 a week is NOT particularly fair but I accept it as my contribution towards reducing the economic deficit. Forcing me to jump through the ATOS hoops twice is not only incredibly UNfair but extremely expensive. Surely an honest admission that we can’t afford the bills and a 15% cut in everyone’s benefits would be a far cheaper route to large scale savings?

This retroactive redefinition of disability by the DWP has already proven to be a raving nightmare. The ATOS medical interviews have been the subject of widespread criticism over the questionable accuracy of a 20 minute “assessment” that consists of ticking boxes on a computer program with at most a cursory physical examination, taken without reference to the medical documentation from the patient’s own doctors. The first year’s statistics as of April 2010 show that only 5% of new applicants have been qualifying for the Support group, and only 13% are accepted into the Employment group. As the professor who helped design the system has pointed out, at least 39% of all those claiming have been dumped straight onto Jobseekers Allowance without access to the specialist support programs they’re likely to need in order to facilitate a return to work. 8,000 appeals are already being heard every month, each requiring the assistance of voluntary sector organizations who specialise in Welfare Rights such as Citizens Advice Bureaux. Continuing this process is going to hammer the unemployment figures as well as raising costs, especially as existing IB claimants have effectively been ‘shortlisted’, possess well proven health conditions and are experienced at both applying and appealing. We’ll be a lot harder to discourage than the quarter of newbies who presently abandon their application mid-process.

There are big scary alarms flashing for me just at the budget wording itself:

Disability Living Allowance
1.103 The Government will reform the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to ensure support is targeted on those with the highest medical need. The Government will introduce the use of objective medical assessments for all DLA claimants from 2013-14 to ensure payments are only made for as long as a claimant needs them.

MEDICAL need. Hmm. Is needing to eat but being unable to cook a meal for oneself a “medical” need? Perhaps not, given that help with housekeeping already isn’t covered by DLA even if the reason you can’t do the housework is a physical disability. If cleaning isn’t considered a “special” cost of disability will eating continue to be? Does my indefinite award of DLA now end in 2013? Having to reapply every year or two isn’t going to alter my permanent nerve damage, and has anyone in government considered what this will do to the viability of the Motability Scheme that provides finance for those on the Higher Mobility rate of DLA to buy wheelchairs or lease cars? With the financial crisis, easy credit isn’t exactly widely available to those living on welfare.

Local councils have already restricted their definition of “personal care” to bathing, laundry, heating up food and a light tidy in order to reduce their social care budgets. Does this announcement simply foreshadow the resurrection of Labour’s discredited plans to abolish DLA and divert the money directly to councils?

The benefits bureaucracy is so complex that it seems deliberately designed to make it impossible for an individual to negotiate independently. (If the DWP is seeking third-party assurance that I’m actually disabled this is not a cost effective way of going about it.) A “medical need” certainly doesn’t sound like one that can or ought to be defined by people with disabilities themselves. In my experience the use of “medical need” is deliberately used to minimise the support afforded to disabled people. When unable to walk the “medical need” is for a manual wheelchair. Even if a powerchair would significantly increase the disabled person’s independence and employability (thus reducing social care costs) they’ll have to pay for it on their own dime. Given this kind of policy direction, deciding that individuals are less capable of designing and paying for their own care package than suitable professionals from the local council doesn’t seem so much of a leap.

And as for those “objective medical assessments”? A BBC Scotland investigation “Who’s Cheating Who?” recently interviewed Vikki Bell, a former DWP benefits advisor whose ATOS workplace medical determined that she was too sick to continue working for the department. Three weeks later her claim for ESA was rejected at another ATOS medical that decided she had no health problems at all!

Bureaucracy costs. Tax Credits could be discarded entirely (at a saving of £23.7 billion) by raising the personal tax threshold immediately to £10,000 a year rather than the derisory £1000 increase to £7475 – £170 a year for basic rate taxpayers – that we’ve been offered in this budget. Migrating disabled people directly onto ESA based on their DLA qualifications saves another £50 million. Both are fair on the poorest in society – unlike what the coalition’s current proposals have in store for people with disabilities.

Like me.

===

21 Comments

  1. Posted June 23, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    Oh DEM, best of luck.

    Is their model of incapacity based on the notions of injury and recovery, ignoring degenerative and variable-course conditions?

    You are too sensible, by looking at the figures… but something does make sense when you talk about eating, help with domestic chores, etc: the government wants you malnourished in unhygenic conditions so you’ll die quickly and cheaply from an acute condition.

    I hope you make it through until governments start redirecting resources to people like you from the groups of profiteers that have screwed the economy.

    The UKs /real/ problem is not budget deficits, but a long period of money leaving the country (current account and trade deficits), and those controlling whether or not the sectors than can earn a sustainable income for the country are enabled and managed well, the captains of capital and their Westminster (and Canberra) poodles just haven’t been doing their jobs for a decade or more.

    Compare Germany and the nordics (apart from Norway with oil) that have good human capital as the major resource, manage well, and have had a long history of current account and trade surpluses – any government debt as a proportion of GDP irrelevant if less than the current account surplus as a proportion of GDP (and taxed NEXT year, so the budget is merely one year in arrears). What does the UK lack that Scandos and Germans have?

    Again, best wishes, and sorry you have to go through this s**t.

  2. Posted June 24, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    What does the UK lack that Scandos and Germans have?

    Monoculturalism. If people have similar set of cultural presumptions, etc it is easier to ensure good information flows between officials and citizens.

    The more social diversity, the more difficult that is, and the more interventionist policies will tend to malfunction.

  3. Posted June 24, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Good point Lorenzo, and I’ll think on it while my left wing is having a knee jerk reaction, if such a thing is possible. (Thinking on what Gibbon might have to say on that notion.)

  4. Peter Patton
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Lorenzo

    Have we (you and I) discussed this before? It is my first rejoinder when the AEU-types start banging on about Finland and education policy.

    I, myself, do NOT want Australia to be racially/ethnically monochrome. But we must acknowledge those areas, where it is has its advantages.

  5. Peter Patton
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    DEM

    I don’t know what the equivalent stats are in Australia, but it sounds like the UK Disability pension is appalling.

    I know that here – following the 1992 recession, there was a trend to push the long-term unemployed on to the DSP as a form of financial “compensation” (it pays more than the dole; but over the past decade, there has been concern at the alarming increase in numbers on the DSP.

    Howard introduced tougher hurdles to be “accepted” but as far as I know existing recipients have been left alone.

    And in the last budget, there was a significant increase too.

    I could not follow the byzantine rules you outlined above, but are you saying you only get 147 pounds a WEEK? I have lived in England, and you cannot live on that amount of money.

    Surely, you must also get public housing or a subsidy in the private market?

  6. Posted June 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    At the moment Germany is paying for Greece (much to the chagrin of the German taxpayer) and the whole of the EU is an indebted mess with terrible problems that somehow manage to be different for each country (apart from the toxicity of the Euro — the UK did well to stay away from that one).

    France will probably come through the best of all, with its high birthrate, nuclear power (they can give Putin the finger) and well organised health system.

    Working-class Muslims may as well leave, however, because the rest of the country couldn’t give a damn about them unless (as Lorenzo intimates in his earlier comment) they become utterly French.

  7. Posted June 24, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    I could not follow the byzantine rules you outlined above, but are you saying you only get 147 pounds a WEEK? I have lived in England, and you cannot live on that amount of money.

    Surely, you must also get public housing or a subsidy in the private market?

    The £147 a week is income replacement (pension, effectively) through a combination of Incapacity Benefit and Income Support. Because my income is this low I also receive Housing Benefit to cover my rent (and yes, I live in social housing which tends to have lower rents than the private market so I don’t have to cover the difference out of my pension as some people do).

    People who work who only earn a low income are ALSO eligible for Housing Benefit, which is why it is the next highest budget item as far as welfare in the UK is concerned and why it has also been targeted for reform in this budget (they are setting maximum rents that HB will now cover and only paying for a minimum number of rooms).

    Yet another bureaucratic waste of money that would be significantly reduced by raising the tax free threshold to £10,000 a year. Mind you, the local councils who administer it then wouldn’t know what to do with themselves as it’s turned into 90% of their workload.

  8. Posted June 25, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    It doesn’t… which is part of the problem. The tick-box program takes very little account of fluctuating conditions such as MS/ME etc, hence the 18% success rate at getting onto ESA at all (which is ridiculously low). More worrying is the constant stories of assessors entirely ignoring what the client tells them.

    Big laugh on the BBC’s Ouch message board was the story of a bloke with an arm missing who was described as having ” a minor amputation of the upper arm”.

  9. Posted June 26, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Just great. A financial crisis caused in large part by the very rich stuffing up and governments solve the problem by taking money away from those at or below the poverty line. Nuts.

    It just boggles me as to how people could be so cruel, but maybe it was some bloody pencil pusher who said it was a minor amputation. Much easier if you just have to deal with reams of paper describing all this stuff to write it off as trivial. Much harder if you actually have to face the person.

    There is a mountain of research literature on how people respond to physical deformity. The responses are not consistent across individuals but the literature clearly paints a picture that a great many negative connotations are associated with physical deformity. Nutshell: the dark side of the Halo Effect.

    Studies on disability demonstrate similiar types of bias. They are also relatively powerless, holding few positions of influence and prestige. This puts them in an extremely difficult position. Makes them an easy target.

  10. Posted June 26, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    There is a mountain of research literature on how people respond to physical deformity. The responses are not consistent across individuals but the literature clearly paints a picture that a great many negative connotations are associated with physical deformity. Nutshell: the dark side of the Halo Effect.

    John, is this from disabled people themselves or from people interacting with disabled people or both? I’d be hugely grateful for links and info if you’ve got the time to provide them.

  11. Posted June 26, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    SL,

    I’ll dig something up for you. I have some archived material, it is both reports from disabled people, and various experiments measuring peoples responses to people with disabilities and specifically physical deformity.

    Below is one set of references. Sorry if formatting does not work out as from database archive. If you’re looking for something else, let me know and I’ll see what I can find.

    Title: Disability and monstrosity: Further comments.
    Author: Livneh Hanoch.
    Journal Series Title: Rehabilitation Literature
    Organization: Rhode Island Coll
    From: Rehabilitation Literature
    Vol 41(11-sup-12) 1980 280-283
    Year: 1980
    Abstract: Contends that 2 major themes are present in the attitudes
    and reactions toward people with atypical physique: overconcern
    with death and ascription of infrahuman life. These themes are at
    the root of human existential anxiety. Physically disfigured
    persons evoke these themes and, accordingly, are denied the
    respect and dignity given and received from nonimpaired
    individuals. This phenomenon accounts for the difficulty in
    attempting to alter society’s attitudes toward the disabled. (27
    ref) ((c) 1997 APA/PsycINFO, all rights reserved)
    Subject: Physical Disabilities (Attit Toward).
    Class Codes: 3290 Physical & Somatoform & Psychogenic Disorders.
    Minor Descriptor: Physical Handicaps (Attit Toward).
    Population Group: Human.
    Language: English
    ISSN: 0034-3579
    Document Type: Journal Article
    Database No.: 1982-06048-001

    Others from his email

    Dion, K.K., Berscheid, E., & Walster, E. (1972). What is beautiful is what
    is good. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24, 285-290.

    Title: Model applicants: The effect of facial appearance on
    recruitment decisions.
    Author: Stevenage Sarah V.. McKay Yolanda.
    Journal Series Title: British Journal of Psychology
    Organization: U Southampton Dept of Psychology Southampton England UK
    From: British Journal of Psychology
    Vol 90(2) 1999 221-234
    Year: 1999
    Abstract: Examined whether negative attitudes associated with
    unattractive applicants extend to those with a facial
    disfigurement. Perceptions of personal qualities and job skills
    were obtained from 49 students (mean age 19.7 yrs) and 57
    recruitment personnel (mean age 31.2 yrs) in response to a mock
    job applicant who had either no disfigurement, facial
    disfigurement, a physical disability or both. The results
    indicated a marked negative perception of the applicant with the
    facial disfigurement but no main effect of a physical disability,
    for both personal qualities and job skills. In addition, analysis
    of the recruitment decisions of the students suggested that while
    the possession of a physical disability significantly reduced the
    chances of being selected, the possession of a facial
    disfigurement had a far greater negative impact. Comparison across
    students and recruiters suggested that recruitment experience did
    offset this bias somewhat, and the results are discussed in terms
    of both a theoretical understanding of the reactions to disability
    and the possibilities for re-education in the work place. ((c)
    1999 APA/PsycINFO, all rights reserved)
    Subject: Facial Features.Personnel Recruitment.Physical Disabilities
    (Attit Toward).Physical Disfigurement.Social Perception.
    Class Codes: 3040 Social Perception & Cognition.3620 Personnel
    Management & Selection & Training.
    Population Group: Human.
    Age Group: Adulthood (18 yrs & older). Thirties (30-39 yrs).
    Form/Content: 0800 Empirical Study.
    Language: English
    ISSN: 0007-1269
    Document Type: Journal Article
    Database No.: 1999-05436-004

    [[22/02/01 21:13
    Article refs Notes extracted from references listings

    Shahani, C., Dipboye, R.L., & Gehrlein, T.M. (1993). Attractiveness bias in
    the interview: Exploring the boundaries of an effect. Basic and Applied
    Social Psychology, 14, 317-328.

    Snyder, M., Berscheid, E., & Matwychuk, A. (1988). Orientations toward
    personnel selection: Differential reliance on appearance and personality.
    Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 972-979.

    Snyder, M., Tanke, E.D., & Berscheid, E. (1977). Social perception and
    interpersonal behavior: On the self-fulfilling nature of social stereotypes.
    Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 656-666.

    Springbett, B.M. (1958). Factors affecting the final decision in the
    employment interview. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 12, 13-22.

    Rowe, P.M. (1989). Unfavorable information and interview decisions. In R.W.
    Eder & G.R. Ferris (Eds.), The employment interview: Theory, research, and
    practice.(pp. 77-89), Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

    Quereshi, M.Y. & Kay, J.P. (1986). Physical attractiveness, age and sex as
    determinants of reactions to resumes. Social Behavior and Personality, 14,
    103-113.

    Ralston, S.M. & Kirkwood, W.G. (1995). Overcoming managerial bias in
    employment interviewing. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 23,
    75-92.

    Rasmussen, K.G., (1984). Nonverbal behavior, verbal behavior, resume
    credentials, and selection interview outcomes. Journal of Applied
    Psychology, 69, 551-556.

    Raza, S.M., & Carpenter, B.N. (1987). A model of hiring decisions in real
    employment interviews. Journal of Applied Psychology, 72, 596-603.

    Riggio, R.E., & Throckmorton, B. (1988). The relative effects of verbal and
    nonverbal behavior, appearance, and social skills on evaluations made in
    hiring interviews. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 18, 331-348

    Morrow, P.C. (1990). Physical attractiveness and selection decision making.
    Journal of Management, 16, 45-60.

    Kinicki, A.J., & Lockwood, C.A. (1985). The interview process: an
    examination of factors recruiters use in evaluating job applicants. Journal
    of Vocational Behavior, 26, 117-125.

    Hatfield, E., & Sprecher, S. (1986). Mirror, Mirror… New York: State
    University of New York Press.

    Gifford, R., Ng, C.F., & Wilkinson, M. (1985). Nonverbal cues in the
    employment interview: Links between applicant qualities and interviewer
    judgments. Journal of Applied Psychology, 70, 729-736.

    Bardack, N.R. & McAndrew, F.T. (1985). The influence of physical
    attractiveness and manner of dress on success in a simulated personnel
    decision. Journal of Social Psychology, 125, 777-778.

    Beehr, T.A., & Gilmore, D.C. (1982). Applicant attractiveness as a perceived
    job-relevant variable in selection of management trainees. Academy of
    Management Journal, 25, 607-617.

    Benson, P.L., Severs, D., Tagenhorst, J., & Loddengaard, N. (1980). The
    social costs of obesity: A non-reactive field study. Social Behavior and
    Personality, 8, 91-96.

    Berscheid, E., & Walster, E.H. (1974). Physical attractiveness. In L.
    Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, 7,158-215). New
    York: Academic Press.

    Buckley, M.R., & Eder, R.W. (1988). B.M. Springbett and the notion of the
    ‘snap decision’ in the interview. Journal of Management, 14, 59-67.

    Ugbah, S.D., & Major, R.E. (1992). Influential communication factors in
    employment interviews. The Journal of Business Communication, 29, 145-159.

    Dipboye, R.L., Arvey, R.D., & Terpstra, D.E. (1977). Sex and physical
    attractiveness of raters and applicants as determinants of resume
    evaluation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 62, 288-294.

    Dipboye, R.L., Fromkin, H.L., & Wiback, K. (1975). Relative importance of
    applicant sex, attractiveness, and scholastic standing in evaluation of job
    applicant resume. Journal of Applied Psychology, 60, 39-43.

    Farr, J.L., & York, C.M. (1975). Amount of information and primacy-recency
    effects in recruitment decisions. Personnel Psychology, 28, 233-238.

  12. Posted June 26, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, John. I’ll also be interested to read many of those. My initial interest in Uni was occupational psychology.

  13. Posted June 27, 2010 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    John, thanks — that is very impressive, and so quickly! I particularly want to read the first one, which I will once I’m back in Oxford.

  14. Posted June 27, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    LE,

    I always assumed that the Halo Effect was largely unconscious. In these days I seriously entertain the idea that consciousness and language is just a reporting of decisions already made so verbal reports about the causes of behavior are problematic. Michael Gazzaniga has researched this, coming to the conclusion that we often have rather ad hoc reasons for our behaviors.
    In any event the conscious – unconscious concept is misleading, things are flipping in and out all the time.

    It is only in employment that facial disfigurement presents any problems for me. People always said it was my fault but I knew differently and that by blaming me that were perpetuating the discrimination. Nonetheless it wasn’t until I read the research that I realised how serious the problem was. In some respects I wish I hadn’t read the research because I am so tired battling against the prejudice I experience in employment settings. I got sick of it a long time ago and decided to find a way to become self-employed. Didn’t work out.

    The worst case of discrimination I received was at the hands of the Comm. Rehab Service. At one branch the two consultants were first rate, but then I moved and at this new branch I encountered two so called psychologists who wouldn’t know and operand from extinction.

    They had deemed that I had a psychopathology so sent me off for a psychiatric assessment. The psychiatrist gave me the all clear and wrote the following extract in his report. He wrote that so as to instruct those two twits that they were actually discriminating against me. His summation of the literature is correct. As it turns out in his internship he studied physical disfigurement so had read the literature rather than trusting his gut instincts. Sarah Stevenage makes a similiar point in her research, the experienced recruiters were better at ignoring the dark side of the Halo Effect.

    With respect to any other problems such as an Anxiety Disorder, Social Phobia etc he didn’t really present as someone who actually avoided social situations or had a high level of anxiety but rather he has had to deal with having a facial disfigurement and who is well versed in dealino, with negative repercussions and victimisation which was far more apparent in school and some occupational settings than with a general public situation, in fact he was rather positive that most people treated him reasonably and fairly. Of course there were the prejudices and biases that happened such that most people on seeing his appearance would regard him as mentally deficient, retarded and more likely to make unfavourable conclusions about his personality and character, this of course is well accepted and well substantiated in the literature. One only needs to look at the beauty and cosmetic surgery industry to confirm society’s preoccupation with youth and beauty.

  15. Posted July 14, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I’m a bit behind with my blog reading, and found this when catching up. I’ve been following the powerfully written account of a Scottish woman who recently suffered a CVA, and who has applied for this DLA and been rejected. http://needled.wordpress.com/ – last two entries cover this particular situation, but all of the last six months is engrossing if wrenching reading.

    I am unspeakably disgusted that modern governments behave like this.

  16. Posted July 14, 2010 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    The DLA form is notoriously tricky for an amateur (all 59 pages of it). Like this lady, I too wrote professionally prior to becoming disabled but because I wasn’t familiar with the ‘keywords’ the DWP were specifically looking for even *I* failed on my first application attempt, and had to re-take the hurdle again with the assistance of the ever invaluable Citizen’s Advice Bureau for the forms, and my college counselling service for the psychological support.

    Of course the risible ATOS doctor’s examination had a lot to do with the rejection first time around too. He acknowledged on one page of his report that I had “virtually no balance” but on the next I was apparently “able to walk normally”. Logic suggests these two states are mutually exclusive.

    ATOS now have the contract for ESA ‘medicals’ too. I can’t wait

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