Natalie: So are there aspects of the Paper that you find particularly alarming?
Karen Steadman, Researcher: Well, this Paper talks a lot about opportunities for people with long term conditions and disabilities, addressing inequalities, making sure people have the opportunity to choose what they want from their lives, and that might include work. I mean the elephant in the room when we talk about this is the role that the welfare system plays, particularly for people on employment and support allowance, whether there might be some, we call it conditionality, where people have to do certain things towards getting a job in order to get the welfare payments. The risk is of course this results in people doing things that they’re not ready for, which might turn out to be harmful for their health, so this is somewhat of a contradiction with those aspirations of the Paper.
In the Work Foundation we advocate the evidence that the right quality job, like a really good quality job can be really positive for people’s health and wellbeing and there are many benefits of somebody engaging in good quality work. There’s also unfortunately bad quality work, which people don’t feel they’ve got any control, might be very stressful jobs where people don’t have a voice or opportunity to develop, and these type of jobs can actually be quite harmful for health and wellbeing. So the concern is that the welfare system might be encouraging or coercing people to go into jobs which might not actually be beneficial for their health. So we have been communicating this to government and the Green Paper does actually talk about good work and how important that is, but more frequently it talks about appropriate work and it doesn’t actually define what it means by that. So I think there is still some risk around the way this positive agenda works within the welfare system.
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