Psychobabble in a Jobcentre near you
On top of punishing claimants with sanctions that leave people destitute, the Government now has plans to use psychological treatments to force people into work.
George Osborne’s budget announced measures to ‘improve employment outcomes’ for people with mental health conditions. These include online cognitive behavioural therapy (change the world by changing how you think) for people on ESA or JSA and putting psychologists in JobCentres.
Unemployment is being redefined as a psychological disorder and the main purpose of psychological therapy will be to force people off benefits. Or to promote yet another specious reason to cut people off benefits.
Meanwhile, the Tory Manifesto states that claimants who ‘refuse a recommended treatment’ may have their benefits reduced. This is an assault on the human rights of people on benefits and an attempt to co-opt medical professionals as state enforcers.
We’re hearing more and more reports of the misuse of psychology to coerce, bully and punish claimants into ‘getting the right mindset’: “all new starts must attend an initial two week course to develop their confidence”.
Change your attitude
The ‘change your attitude’ message of positive psychology is enforced in mandatory ‘employability’ training courses promising to help with ‘self-esteem, self-confidence and motivation’ and in unsolicited ‘positive thinking’ emails. Making people take part in various pointless and humiliating psycho-group-activities e.g. building paper clip towers to demonstrate team work, or take completely meaningless and unethical psychological tests to determine their ‘strengths’.
The Department for Work and Pensions issues contracts worth hundreds of thousands of pounds (Focus the Mind, Achieve your Potential) designed to ‘address negative perceptions’ and ‘instil a positive attitude to work‘. A programme for JSA/ESA claimants over 50 aims to persuade people that age discrimination doesn’t exist:
“to challenge perceptions that employers discriminate on the grounds of age”.
These fraudulent programmes don’t result in real paid work you can live on. The companies that run them are making millions out of a big con: that with a total personality makeover, anyone can get a job. That positive thinking can change the low pay, no pay UK economy...