Here’s a claim you’ll find IDS making just about every time he does a speech or an interview – “People are Better Off In Work”.
And like all the best lies, it works because it has an element of truth in it. Some people, particularly those in good jobs, are better off in work.
But for others, work can be a crushing experience, and be the cause of physical or mental health conditions.
So lets examine this claim more closely.
A freedom of information request, made by “James” in 2012 reveals the source of this claim.
This is the DWP Response to that FOI Reqest:
Gordon Waddell & Kim Burton were commissioned by the DWP to conduct an independent review of the scientific evidence – Is work good for your health and well-being? 2006. The Stationery Office, London. This review contains findings on work for sick and disabled people, (pp20-21), mental health, including severe mental illness, common mental health problems and stress (pp21-24) and cardio-respiratory conditions (pp27-28). It can be found at the following link: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/hwwb-is-work-…
The authors concluded that there is a strong evidence base showing that work is generally good for physical and mental health and well-being. Worklessness is associated with poorer physical and mental health and well-being. Work can be therapeutic and can reverse the adverse health effects of unemployment. That is true for healthy people of working age, for many disabled people, for most people with common health problems and for social security beneficiaries. The provisos are that account must be taken of the nature and quality of work and its social context and jobs should be safe and accommodating. Overall, the beneficial effects of work outweigh the risks of work, and are greater than the harmful effects of long-term unemployment or prolonged sickness absence. Work is generally good for health and well-being.
So already Duncan Smith’s lie begins to unravel, but looking into further into the report, there is more, as the FOI Request author “James”, states
“1. The statement “work makes you better” is so general as to suggest that work is beneficial to health in all circumstances when in fact this is not the case, the claim is therefore misleading.
2. The report itself acknowledges (on page ix) that “a minority of people may experience contrary health effects from work(lessness);” and that “Beneficial health effects depend on the nature and quality of work”. The statement “work makes you better” does not include any of the provisos contained in the report itself.
3. It is wrong to suggest there is a large body of evidence when the only supporting evidence the DWP has so far been able to provide is a single report from 2006 which only claims to have focussed on two thirds of the relevant population (see also point 1 above) and when there is no long term researched evidence of the claim.
4. On pg 22 it states the following
“There is limited evidence about the impact of (return to) work on (people with) mild/moderate mental health problems, despite their epidemiological and social importance. However, there is much more evidence on ‘stress’, which may be the best modern exemplar of common mental health problems.”
5. on pg 23 of the same report it states the following
“This review did not retrieve any direct evidence on the relative balance of beneficial vs. harmful effects of work (of whatever psychosocial characteristics) on mental health and psychological well-being.”
6. On pg 28 of the same report it states the following
“CR4 * There is limited evidence that rehabilitation and return to work for workers with cardio-respiratory conditions can be beneficial for general health and well-being and quality of life.”
7. On pg 30 of the same report it states the following
“Moving off benefits can have either positive or negative effects on health and well-being, depending mainly on how claimants leave benefits and whether or not they (re)-enter work. Of those claimants who leave benefits voluntarily, the majority (re)-enter work and have increased income, and many report that their health is completely recovered or much better”
It is evident there are a lot of cautions and caveats within the report themselves that appear to disprove the statement “Work makes you better” and I hope the DWP will remove such statements and references to large body of evidences when in fact it is using a report that actually states in detail otherwise when it comes to ill health and diseases as it is very false and misleading.
You could equally make a claim that “Work Makes You Ill” based on statistics from the Health and Safety Executive that say:
It is just as much a sweeping generalisation as the claim that “people are better off in work” and it is no more true.
The real truth is more complex, some people are better off in some types of work, while some other work makes people ill, is much closer to reality.
But that doesn’t go down well in a Daily Mail headline, or in a sound-byte in a speech to the Tory Conference.
Duncan Smith is well aware that the statement “People are better off in work” is a lie, just like he is well aware of all his other lies. But he continues to be quite prepared to use it to justify his persecution of disabled people.
In this case it isn’t just Duncan Smith who has used this lie – the shame must also be shared by the Labour Party. The Waddell and Burton report dates from 2006 and was one of the foundation blocks of the Work Capability Assessment, which was introduced by Labour in 2008.
Iain Duncan Smith and a host of other politicians (for both Tory and Labour) prefer to base a whole policy agenda on a lie.
Never mind the misery that causes, never mind the endless harm or the casualties from tragic deaths that a result from a policy that has grown out of a lie.
You can read more about that here : Gordon Waddell’s biopsychosocial attack on disabled people
Previously on the IDS Files: