BBC headline is "Thousands claim incapacity benefit for addictions
" and the first sentences is "More than 80,000 people are claiming incapacity benefits because they are addicted to alcohol and drugs or are obese, according to government figures."Which of these things is not like the others
Obesity is not an addiction. Obesity is not necessarily a cause of ill health. Obesity can in fact be what you're stuck with after you get mobility problems and can no longer move around enough to lose weight. It is possible to have such restricted activity that a diet can't have enough healthy necessary stuff and let you lose weight. Not to mention the biochemical stuff that can go wonky and whoosh your weight up no matter how careful you eat. But does that ever get mentioned? Does it buggery. Obesity is demonised as a health wrecking personal choice, and there's so many axes of wrong going on there.
"As of last August, there were 42,360 claimants with alcohol addiction, 37,480 with drug dependency and 1,800 battling obesity, officials said."
"The DWP figures indicate that 12,800 alcoholics and 9,200 drug addicts have been claiming the benefit for more than a decade, as well as about 600 people considered obese."
So, in the first sentence the three get equal weighting, in the actual details we're talking less than 2/80. For goodness sake, on numbers alone it don't belong on any big panic list.
And then there's a quote from Employment minister Chris Grayling: "Far from being the safety net it should be, the benefits system has trapped thousands of people in a cycle of addiction and welfare dependency
with no prospect of getting back to work."
This, right here, is why they release these numbers: so they can put addiction-and-welfare-dependency in the same sentence, get them linked in people's minds, as if there's an equivalence between chemical addiction and welfare. As if claiming benefits is an unhealthy personal choice.
There's also a level of singling out the kinds of ill that are most likely to be seen as a choice and least likely to get any sympathy. Then the government can talk about withdrawing their benefits and get readers to file them all in the skivers and scroungers folder. Never mind that there's a fairly obvious correlation between alcoholism, and inability to do a job, unless you think drunk and good work are mixy. ... I have difficulty being polite about alcoholism because of history. Lots of people have similar bad associations about drunk people. But you know what? Even drunk people need to eat. To do that they need income; they either need a job or, if they can't work, need benefits. No amount of government finger pointing is going to change that basic need. So what is the government solution?
"We have already started reassessing everyone on incapacity benefit and will support people with addictions to help them back to work."
... you notice the ongoing lack of the bit of the sentence that says "make them well"? That bit isn't anywhere in the government version. So they won't make them well, they'll just help them get work. With those magic jobs that you can do whilst stoned. Like writing government press releases.
... bitter and snarky isn't helping. okays, breathe, let it go...
I'm all for initiatives that help people get well. All these things that put people on incapacity benefit, is good to make them well and help them. May all beings be well.
Telling them to get to work does not in fact make them well.
There's a bit in the article where someone from an alcoholism charity expresses roughly that only less snarky and more formal type words. Also pointing out that taking the safety net away does not in fact stop people from falling.
The last word from the shadow work and pensions secretary sounds like sense. "With five people now chasing every job, what we need to get people off benefits and paying tax is more jobs." But if it's a response to this bit about incapacity benefit it is in fact more non sense, because the thing with benefits for people that cannot do work is even if there's a whole heap of jobs they still can't do them.
Why is it that doesn't seem to compute for some people?
*sends well at all living beings*
ETA: google news also found basically the same story from the end of March. About three weeks to be a new headline? But last time it was a different benefit, disability instead of incapacity.
google news also reminded me of a last year proposed policy about compulsory treatment that was declared unworkable because there aren't enough treatment places to go around.
Same problem, different day. Extra dollop of blame.
ETA2 1730: I had a snooze and the BBC rewrote the whole article, with video and a bar chart and an extra quote from the Prime Minister.
"We are finding a large number of people who are on incapacity benefit because of drink problems, alcohol problems or problems with weight and diet.
"And I think a lot of people who pay their taxes and work hard will think: 'That's not what I pay my taxes for. I pay my taxes for people who are incapacitated through no fault of their own.'"
The Prime Minister is proposing that benefits are for people who are incapacitated through no fault of their own.
That's the subtext in listing addiction, alcoholism, and the stupid stereotypes of obesity, but having it said plain is chilling.
Because that graphic on the BBC now lists everything from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, back pain... seriously, look at that graphic and wonder why they're all there. Right next to rhetoric that introduces the concept of 'fault' into disability benefits.
*swears a lot*
Fault is a very, very dangerous idea in disability benefits. Will they blame someone for life for one moment of inattention? Will they stop paying benefits to people injured in extreme sports? Where is the line?
I personally hate alcoholism, but alcohol is legal, drinking it is legal, and finding you are ill with it doesn't stop you needing basic necessities. So if he's saying 'fault' about that incapacity, where does it end?
As for putting obesity on the list, I think I covered that earlier, but FFS
I wish they'd learn something about the medicine before they stomp on ill people.
and I added this earlier in a DW comment:http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/apr/21/chris-grayling-incapacity-benefits-revolution
has a more detailed article I'll need to read at more length, but it turns out they're doing payment by results for treating addicts, with the evidence being that they get the addict a job.
bloke has been doing radio interviews, a bunch of seperate ones. I missed all them. says the payment-by-results for treatment is about finding out which treatments work. I thought the way we found out what treatments work is double blind scientific studies, but what do I know? Apparently evidence is as nothing compared to economics.
Honestly, it's scary sometimes being able to see this coming, reading the first less detailed article and seeing the rhetoric they're going to push.
I am emphatically for getting ill people to be well again, addicts and alcoholics very much on the list. They need treatment. They need help.
Calling it their own fault and telling them to get back to work they're incapable of doing is entirely different. And both useless and an erosion of the better qualities of living beings. Try some kindness.