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What happened to ‘if you can’t beat ’em join em?’.

This was my first response to the press coverage on this story about Maximus’ appointment of Sue Marsh, which did the usual thing of quoting responses from various people without much context or provision of facts. Please see Anita’s excellent comment below this post.

This refers to the Daily Wail article in which a previous campaigner, Sue Marsh, who had her own experiences of trying to claim Employment Support Allowance with Crohn’s disease, has been employed as the head of customer relations by the new company Maximus to carry out Work Capability Assessments (WCA).

Managing learning disabilities at work.

Managing learning disabilities at work.

If the company have chosen a campaigner with first hand experience of what they are dealing with, isn’t that better than another person like IDS who disregards the people whose lives he has effect over?

All the criticisms are based on assumptions, not on delivered outcomes and show a bias and a lack of listening to the intentions of the lady.

If more people who wanted to work and come off sickness benefits into well paid jobs in which they can exert change and show that a good salary does greatly improves their quality of life and changes misconceptions about people with disabilities to employers, isn’t this a good thing?

Sue Marsh is someone I would love to interview on my radio show to get the full and, probably, more interesting story then the usual arm-biting reaction from the press.

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2 thoughts on “Can’t Judge Without Full Possession of Facts

  1. I said I would comment. I will make 2 points:
    1) If you are in full possession of the facts, you will know that the system cannot be changed from within. Although the customer experience might improve, the issue is with the WCA, and knowing how it works is paramount to understand that.
    Atos and now Maximus have no statutory powers. All they do is make recommendations. The descriptors on which the WCA is based are enshrined in law and cannot be changed without changing the law. Something that 5 annual WCA reviews, endless parliamentary debates and public pressure have failed to to. The WCA is not a neutral test. It is important to understand how it came about and what was the influence of insurance companies like Unum in its design. The last review by Lichfield raised the issue of the WCA being the right test for benefit eligibility. Basically the WCA is not fit for purpose.
    2) The second point is that the WCA has started to unravel and collapse thanks to direct action, mainly from DPAC, making the brand toxic, hence Atos withdrawal from the contract (and not DWP). You should read what Judge Martin wrote about it after he retired (he was the president of the appeal tribunals). 2 documents were leaked. Dark Matters1 and Dark Matters2.
    And just at the time when DPAC and other organisations are going to crank up their campaign against the WCA, DWP by targeting Maximus, Maximus appoints Sue Marsh.
    If you look at Maximus involvement in disability assessment and the work programme in the US, Canada, Australia, Israel, it would be very naive to believe that this company will behave differently in the UK. It is a contractor who will do what the government ask him to do. There is not much hope either from the Labour party. Labour proposals don’t touch what are the core issues with the WCA.
    It is based on my knowledge of the WCA, of the way DWP has manipulated the statistics and is still doing this that I know that it cannot be improved, from within or from the outside. And if Sue Marsh’s appointment was to demobilise people, a lot of gained ground would be lost.

    • Hi Anita,
      Thank you very much for your informed response. It is exactly what I could have hoped for.

      Are you OK with me posting it in a blog (attributed to you of course)?

      I will read Dark Matters 1 and 2 with interest. Thank you for letting me know about these.

      With kind regards

      Sophie

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