A (temporary) change to the Rethinking Incapacity blog

The blog is temporarily changing, and I thought it was important to be clear to people that read the blog (you!) about what’s going on.

As of last month (Sep 2015), I am working part-time with the Department of Work and Pensions.  While I’m at the DWP, this means that I can’t publicly comment on issues around the WCA etc. Which will be a bit of a change! However, the blog will continue, focusing more on the latest policy-related research than on policy itself.

What this means, and what it doesn’t

There are two things that I thought were important to clarify about this.

Firstly, my silence on policy issues is purely temporary – once I’ve finished working with DWP in six months time, I’ll be back commenting on these issues exactly as before. (Indeed, my research is continuing part-time, and I’m planning to write a report and hold an event in the Spring, shortly after finishing at DWP). So watch this space.

Secondly, I know that there are some disability campaigners who have concerns about DWP policy (indeed, I blogged about reaction to the Duncan Smith’s recent speech here). However, having taken advice from various people that I trust (including some campaigners), I think that the best way for me personally to try to contribute to the independence and wellbeing of disabled people in Britain is to work with DWP.

So: for six months the blog will focus on policy-related research rather than my own views on policy itself, but after that, normal service will be resumed!

8 thoughts on “A (temporary) change to the Rethinking Incapacity blog

  1. I’m supportive of the decision to work with DWP; the more people working with them, who have the “right” attitude, the better, although the difference we can make is very limited. I had to cease my involvement with them for reasons relating to my own job; while I miss the opportunity to at least try to have some kind of influence on policy and practice, I don’t miss the sensation of banging my head against a brick wall! I hope your head doesn’t get too sore 😉

  2. 2 small comments;

    First, ESA is not a disability benefit. It is an incapacity benefit. This is a common confusion, though particularly irritating in a serious academic article.

    Second, I would query the reference to “benefits that arise from moving people off disability benefits. ” There are no benefits from moving people off benefits as such, though of course there are if this results from them ceasing to be disabled. Even if it is intended to mean “benefits that arise from moving people off incapacity benefits” it is tendentious. It is not self-evident that moving people with limited productive capacity off benefits and into work is a good thing. Although the idea of using Incapacity benefit to provide an early retirement scheme was rejected, more or less consciously, by all Parties, this was a political choice.

    1. Hi Rory – yes, I don’t think I refer to ‘disability benefit’ in the post you’re commenting on, but let me know if you’ve found a mention of it somewhere! (It’s worth noting that the UK is the only country to use the terms ‘disability benefit’ and ‘incapacity benefit’ in quite this way, so if it’s in a paper in an international journal then the terms may change – though I tend to define the terms either way).

      In fact, I think you might be referring to a different Ben – Ben Barr! The phrase “benefits that arise from moving people off disability benefits” seems to come from their report here.
      b/w, Ben

      1. Hi Ben

        Yes, I was commenting on the paper which you cited rather than anything you said yourself. I should have made that clearer.

        The distinction between disability and incapacity is not always important but I think that when one starts talking about the idea of ‘getting people off benefits’ it does become quite crucial to say what basis the benefits are paid on. Even this Government would not jusify cuts to DLA/PIP by refences to ‘getting people off benefits’, though both this and the previous Government justified the transition from Incapacity Benefit to ESA in this way. The underlying assumption is that anyone going off an incapacity benefit must be going to work, which of course is not always the case and is not necessarily a good thing even if it is.

        I set out some thoughts on this in the Chartist e-book ‘The Work Agenda’ which I mentioned earlier.


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