This extract is the conclusion from the ‘Influences and Consequences’ report, which concludes research as conducted over the past ten years by disabled researcher Mo Stewart. The detailed and often disturbing research evidence exposes the human consequences of the adoption of neoliberal politics, together with American social and labour market policies, which guaranteed the creation of preventable harm for the UK disabled community who are unfit to work. Despite political rhetoric, the welfare reforms were unrelated to costs, which always was a political smokescreen. The ultimate political goal was to demolish what was once the psychological security of the UK welfare state which would make it easier to eventually remove, to be replaced by private healthcare insurance, as planned by every UK government since 1992.
Mo Stewart stands up to an uncaring, banal and callous administration, placing on record the evidence with which their history will be written.
– Danny Dorling.
For the past ten years, I have been identifying and reporting the inevitable preventable harm created by the adoption of neoliberal politics, the planned demolition of the UK welfare state and the influence of Unum Insurance since 1992 with successive British government(s). Gradually, the UK is being transformed from a welfare state into a replica of an American state, with the planned adoption of private income protection health insurance to eventually replace the UK’s financial safety net, with a guarantee that people would suffer for the crime of being ‘unfit to work’ (Stewart 2016).
The harmful welfare reforms adopted by New Labour in 2008 were dramatically increased by the brutal reforms introduced by the coalition and Conservative government(s) since 2010, when adopting unnecessary additional austerity measures. Consequently, preventable harm was guaranteed in every successive social policy Green Paper, and is identified by this author as linking back to what was termed a long time ago as being Thatcher’s ‘dark legacy’ (Young 2013).
The ongoing suffering of those in greatest need was created by the work of only three men, whose DWP commissioned research justified the welfare reforms and the adoption of the dangerous WCA for claimants of disability benefit. Yet, the BPS model adopted for the WCA as created by Mansel Aylward and Gordon Waddell (2005, 2010), together with the ‘Freud report’ (Freud 2007; Stewart 2017d), have failed all academic scrutiny (Shakespeare et al 2016; Dorling 2007). So, the devastation experienced by those in greatest need by the impact of the welfare reforms and additional austerity measures was created using flawed DWP commissioned research. This has been common knowledge for a long time. All this was made possible with the adoption of neoliberal politics, which was initially adopted by Thatcher, and by every successive UK government since Thatcher, as the politics of power, profit and greed has swept the world (OECD 2003). The human consequences of the adoption of neoliberal politics is rarely identified (TP 2019), and few in the UK have stopped to identify the human crisis created by the politics of greed (Monbiot 2016; Stewart 2018a).
The only guarantee is that with each passing year more preventable harm is created by the UK government for those in greatest need, who have got the message that they are nothing more than a financial burden on the state. Their needs are considered to be cost-prohibitive to a government where cost is the only concern, and any and all costs will be reduced by the adoption of dangerous social policies regardless of human consequences. Testimony of need by the disabled community is invariably challenged and disregarded by the DWP, at a cost of £1.6billion over a three year period for private contractors to conduct disability assessments (PAC 2016). No-one is held to account for the manipulation of the British public by politicians who lie for a living. They are very experienced and successful, as they manipulated Parliament to adopt social policies which were guaranteed to cause preventable harm, destitution and death when, quite literally, ‘killed by the state’ (Elward 2016; Stewart 2019a). Where are the political debates against this ongoing state-sanctioned atrocity by well- informed politicians who know about the corporate influence of Unum Insurance since 1992 with UK social policy and the planned future demolition of the UK welfare state?(Stewart 2016).
In order for neoliberal politics to succeed for the adoption of welfare reforms, it was necessary for successive UK government(s) to disregard medical ethics and any adherence to a moral code. This was demonstrated in a statement by Professor Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, following his visit to the UK in 2018 (Alston 2018):
It thus seems patently unjust and contrary to British values that so many people are living in poverty. This is obvious to anyone who opens their eyes to see the immense growth in food-banks and the queues waiting outside them, the people sleeping rough in the streets, the growth of homelessness, and the sense of deep despair that leads even the Government to appoint a Minister for suicide prevention.
But the full picture of low-income well-being in the UK cannot be captured by statistics alone. Its manifestations are clear for all to see. The country’s most respected charitable groups, its leading think tanks, its parliamentary committees, independent authorities like the National Audit Office, and many others, have all drawn attention to the dramatic decline in the fortunes of the least well off in this country. But, through it all, one actor has stubbornly resisted seeing the situation for what it is. The Government has remained determinedly in a state of denial. Even while devolved authorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland are frantically trying to devise ways to ‘mitigate’, or in other words counteract, at least the worst features of the Government’s benefits policy, Ministers insisted to me that all is well and running according to plan.
In my travels across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland I met with people living in poverty, whether old, young, disabled, in work or not… I also met a range of Ministers in the central government and in Wales, as well as with the First Minister of Scotland. I spoke at length with politicians from all the major political parties.
Although the provision of social security to those in need is a public service and a vital anchor to prevent people being pulled into poverty, the policies put in place since 2010 are usually discussed under the rubric of austerity. But this framing leads the inquiry in the wrong direction. In the area of poverty-related policy, the evidence points to the conclusion that the driving force has not been economic but rather a commitment to achieving radical social re-engineering. Successive governments have brought revolutionary change in both the system for delivering minimum levels of fairness and social justice to the British people and especially the values underpinning it. Key elements of the Beveridge social contract have been overturned… great misery has also been inflicted unnecessarily, especially on the working poor, on single mothers struggling against mighty odds, on people with disabilities who are already marginalised, and on millions of children who are being locked into a cycle of poverty from which most will have a great difficulty escaping.
Many aspects of this (Universal Credit) programme are legitimate matters for political contestation, but it is the mentality that has informed many of the reforms that has brought most misery and wrought the most harm to the fabric of British society. British compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous approach apparently designed to instill discipline where it is least useful, to impose a rigid order on the lives of those least capable of coping with today’s world, and elevating the goal of enforcing blind compliance over a genuine concern to improve the well-being of those at the lowest levels of British society…
No single programme embodies the combination of benefits reform and the promotion of austerity programmes more than Universal Credit–it is fast becoming Universal Discredit. The Universal Credit system is designed with a five-week delay between when people successfully file a claim and when they receive benefits. The rationales offered for the delay are entirely illusory, and the motivation strikes me as a combination of cost-saving, enhanced cashflows, and wanting to make it clear that being on benefits should involve hardship. Instead, recipients are immediately plunged into further debt and inevitably struggle mightily to survive.
Influential journalists such as Patrick Butler and Frances Ryan have regular columns in the Guardian, and they identify the ongoing preventable harm created by social policy reforms, yet they fail to acknowledge why it’s happening. Regular reports of the suffering, as reported by Butler (2015) and Ryan (2015), make for powerful press stories but fail to identify the reality of why the reforms were adopted, or the American corporate influence with DWP social policies since 1992 (Stewart 2015, 2016, 2017c, 2018a, 2019a, b, c). They say it’s not their job. So, whose job is it to warn the lay public about the planned demolition of the UK welfare state? Is it not the job of influential journalists when writing in the national press, especially when Ryan (2019) has the occasional Opinion piece in the Guardian, which is unrelated to her column, and the Guardian is where Rutherford (2008) first broke the news regarding the influence of Unum Insurance with future UK social policies.
The only UK journalist who has had the courage to identify the influence of Unum Insurance with the UK government, and the American corporate giant’s influence with the welfare reforms, is John Pring, the distinguished Editor of the Disability News Service (DNS 2019, 2018b, 2016). There have never been any repercussions for exposing the influence of Unum Insurance. However, John writes for a selective audience and his many significant articles are not brought to the attention of the general public. Whilst many in the disabled community are well informed, the majority of the British public are not because the national press will not report the influence of corporate America with the planned future demolition of the UK welfare state as they once did (Rutherford 2008). Why not?
As with all my published reports, the evidence within Influences and Consequences is all available in the public domain. Over the years I have been able to alert the disabled community to the preventable harm created by the welfare reforms, and the powerful American corporate influences behind them. Following ten years of study, it seems clear that nothing can or will improve unless the general public are alerted to the preventable harm created by the influence of Unum Insurance with British welfare reforms, and that seems very unlikely to happen with a compromised right-leaning national press. The only shining light is the work of the disabled campaigners and support groups, such as Disabled People Against Cuts, who have highlighted and disseminated my research and have challenged the progress of neoliberalism. Without their resistance to this government-imposed brutality, the situation would have been far worse than it is (DNS 2018a).
For the past ten years, I have struggled with my own ethical concerns of reporting the political realities of welfare reforms to the disability support groups. I am very conscious that my research evidence may cause distress. I am especially alert to the fact that some readers may themselves be very ill, and reading this evidence may have negative consequences for those who already suffer so much. I have never come to terms with that ethical challenge. The only hope is that the research of the past ten years can be used in the years to come to identify the dangers of right-leaning UK governments, whose loyalty is to corporate America and not to the British disabled public. Quite simply, the adoption of dangerous social policies were always destined to cause death, despair and preventable harm to some of those in greatest need, who are now living through what is the creation of Thatcher’s ‘dark legacy’ (Young 2013) as identified and predicted a long time ago (Stewart 2016).
Mo Stewart is a medically retired healthcare professional and a disabled veteran of the Women’s Royal Air Force medical branch. Her research over the past ten years received no grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. Mo’s book ‘Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state’ is recommended reading for social policy students in the UK and in Australia and can be found in university libraries. In 2014 the coalition Cabinet Office contacted Mo and offered her a cash incentive to stop the research. The cash offer was refused…