Government’s moves to ‘coerce’ jobseekers into therapy are ‘abusive’, say Greens

26 June 2015

Green Party Work and Pensions spokesperson Jonathan Bartley has accused the government of being ‘abusive’ and ‘coercing’ jobseekers into therapy, as it launches a pilot of therapists being in job centres in Streatham.

Bartley will be attending a protest outside Streatham job centre today (Friday 26 June) at 1.30pm.

The Conservative Party manifesto stated: “People who might benefit from treatment should get the medical help they need so they can return to work. If they refuse a recommended treatment, we will review whether their benefits should be reduced.”

This alarmed many professionals, including Peter Kinderman, Head of the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, who wrote: "This suggestion undermines a fundamental principle of medical and psychological healthcare, namely that of informed consent: a person who is capable of giving their consent has the right to refuse to receive care or services.”

Bartley said:

“Psychological tests shouldn't be conducted in job centres. The dubious use of psychology has long been a part of the Government's damaging welfare reform programme. But this latest move to place therapists in job centres themselves crosses a line and threatens to undermine the principle of 'informed consent' in healthcare.

“No one should be under any illusions about what this Government is planning. The Conservatives have stated clearly that if people refuse a recommended health treatment, there should be a review of whether benefits should be reduced. But it would be abusive, as well as counterproductive, to threaten the withdrawal of benefits in order to influence someone's decision over therapy.

“Job Centres are an entirely inappropriate setting for psychological assessment and treatment. Therapy entered into under any form of coercion, whether it is real or perceived, is not desirable, legitimate or ethical. Mental health treatment belongs in a healthcare setting, with no real or perceived pressure to co-operate, and no financial penalty for 'failure'.”

Back to main news page