Sunday, 2 December 2012

Hostile criticism, but only where it’s earned.

Everybody I’ve spoken to and, for that matter, all the internet stuff I’ve seen, blame ATOS for the horrors that benefit claimants are being put to. Especially, ATOS is getting the stick for the decisions which are often so perverse that subsequently nearly 50% of them are reversed on appeal.

This criticism is largely misdirected.

[In passing: Every ATOS employee I’ve had dealings with has been polite, patient, understanding and thoroughly professional.

[The same has not been entirely true with the DWP: About 1/3 are lovely; about 1/3 start off hostile but can be brought round if I am polite and friendly (which I can understand...), and about 1/3 are abrupt, bullying and thoroughly unpleasant, and there’s no getting through to them.]

It’s not ATOS which makes the decisions, it’s DWP. So why isn’t DWP getting the stick?

The answer’s simple. Mediocre leadership will always pass the buck downwards, or at least away. I don’t know whether ATOS are being deliberately set up to take the flak, but I certainly assume so: all the evidence points that way.

The government are determined to ‘restructure’ the benefits system. (You may feel that they should being doing exactly that, or you may not: that is not the issue here.) They get the civil service (DWP) to do their dirty work for them; the DWP farm out contact with the public - and the flak from the public - to ATOS (and ATOS farms it out to their skivvies in the front line).

The issue becomes so confused that we blame the wrong people. [It’s not for nothing that my DWP contact is based hundreds of miles from where I live...]

You may say that Duncan Smith, Grayling and Osborne stand up for what they’re doing. But have you trying putting a point of view to them? They’re so isolated from the rest of us that they think they’re untouchable... but more of that anon.

That leaves this question: Should the physiotherapist who was appointed to assess my mental health have recused herself because she wasn't suitably qualified? Of course, another question then arises: COULD she have done so, without losing her job?

So... It’s not, or not always, the people in the front line: it’s the system that bears examination – a system which I suspect has been set up very carefully and very deliberately to grind me down (along with a million or so other folks) - and to make sure that we can't kick back.

More about this as the blog proceeds. I hope.

I plan to put the dagger in, but I want to be sure that I hit the right target.

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