Also from 1995: Tories Reject Report on Poverty in Wales as ‘Communist Propaganda’ »

Paul Foot on the Insurance Company Unum and Cuts to Disability Benefit in Private Eye from 1995                                                                                                                                                                                                      Paul Foot, the journalist brother of Labour leader Michael Foot, had a regular column in Private Eye until his death. Entitled ‘Footnotes’, this documented the abuse of corporate and political power, and Right-wing attacks on welfare, the poor, the disabled, minorities and the working class. After his death it became ‘In the Back’, and is one of the features that lift the Eye above being merely another humour magazine making cheeky comments about politicians and celebs. One of the companies standing behind the Coalitions cuts to disability benefit and the welfare state is the American private insurance company, Unum. Paul Foot turned his gaze on the company way back in the Eye’s issue for the 16th June 1995, when they were hired by Major’s Social Services Secretary, Peter Lilley. The article went as follows:

To help him in his bid to save £2 billion a year by slashing the benefits of disabled people, Peter Lilley, social services secretary7, has hired the vice-president of a big multinational insurance company which is usinig the benefit cuts to boost its sales. Overcoming the xenophobia to which he so often gives voice at Tory party conferences, Mr Lilley has appointed an American.

Founded in Portland, Maine, in 1848, the Unum Corporation describes itself as “the world’s leading light in disability insurance”. Unum Ltd, its British arm, is based in Dorking, Surrey. It issued its annual report last September, when chairman Ward E. Graffam enthused about “exciting developments” in Britain.

He explained: “the impending changes to the State ill-health benefits system heralded in the November 1993 Budget will create unique sales opportunities across the entire disability market and we will be launching a concerted effort to harness the potential in these”. In January, the full extent of Lilley’s plans to replace invalidity benefit with incapacity benefit revealed to the Commons. Estimated “savings” for the year 1995-1996 were £410 million; for 1996-97 £1.2 billion; and for 1997-98 an astonishing £1.7 billion.

Obviously, with so much less government money going to sick and disabled people, the opportunities for private disability insurance were enormous. No longer could people rely on benefit income if they became ill or disabled. They would have to fend for themselves. Accordingly, UNUM Ltd, as its chairman had promised, “launched a concerted effort to harness the potential”. In April this year, a glamorous and expensive advertising campaign coincided with the new rules for incapacity benefit.

One UNUM ad warned: “April 13, unlucky for some. Because tomorrow the new rules on state incapacity benefit announced in the 1993 autumn budget come into effect. Which means that if you fall ill and have to rely on state incapacity benefit, you could be in serious trouble”. Lurid tables estimating weekly outgoings for an average family at £276, and benefit under the new rules at £100, urged people to “protect yourself with a Long Term Disability policy from UNUM”.

Crucial to the new rules were tougher medical tests to find out if people really are incapacitated. The Benefits Agency Medical Services (BAMS) recruited a new corps of doctors to carry out new “all-work tests”. The basic change in the tests was simple. In the past, disabled or sick people were entitled to benefit if they could no longer do their job. From now on, people are entitled to benefit only if they can do no work at all.

The new medical tests were fundamental to the “savings” Lilley hoped for. If the tests were too lax – if doctors were allowed to slide into sentimental slackness in assessing peoples’ ability to do any work at all – the whole purpose of the tests would be thwarted. So Lilley’s department set up an “incapacity benefit medical valuation group” to “monitor and validate the quality standards for the doctors involved in the all-work assessments”.

The most famous member of the group is Dr John Le Cascio, second vice-president of the Unum Corporation, who has recently been seconded to the company’s British arm. Dr Le Cascio was also invited last year by Lilley’s department to help in the extensive training of doctors in the new techniques of testing. The DSS stresses that “the doctors don’t decide the incapacity benefit – that is done by an adjudication officer”. No doubt; but the officer makes a decision on the expert medical information provided by the tests.

No press release was issued about Dr Le Cascio’s appointment. No one told taxpayers that the DSS is shelling out £40,000 to Unum Ltd for D Le Cascio’s services in the year from October 1994 to September this year. A DSS spokeswoman explained: “this comes down basically to a daily rate of £440 a day. That’s cheap for a consultancy, actually.”

The Eye asked Dr Le Cascio if he agreed there was an absolutely obvious conflict of interest in his position as validator and monitor of tests for a benefit, the cutting of which was being exploited to the full by the advertisements for his company. He replied:

“Well, I don’t feel that way of course, and if I did I wouldn’t have accepted the job. I was brought in for a specific reason, and that is to teach some of the medical principles which are contained in the design of the new test – that’s what I do, that’s my area of expertise. I’m a technical person and I can do that. To me, there is no sort of conflict as long as I do that job. I feel comfortable doing it, and I assume that those n the department feel comfortable with my contribution. The reason they’ve turned to me is because the commercial insurers have been working with this sort of valuation system for a long time and that’s where the knowledge lies”.

And in that article you can see the origins of the whole modern benefits system. The use by the government of a private company, in this case Unum, that stands to profit from cuts to the welfare system and the recruitment of new corps of professionals by BAMS to make the tests more difficult. The only difference is that BAMS has now gone and been replaced by ATOS. It’s another example of the way Blair merely inherited and developed a system that was put forward by the Tories.


02/06/2013 BROKEN BRITISH POLITICS – A  record number of wounded war veterans have been denied disability benefits in the past year after undergoing tests carried out by the Government’s controversial assessment company. Hundreds of injured ex-soldiers are being declared fit for work by Atos Healthcare in spite of physical and mental injuries they suffered in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Last night, the Royal British Legion (RBL) announced a 72 per cent annual rise in former soldiers having their applications to receive Employment Support Allowance (ESA) turned down. Several hundred wounded personnel were denied the benefit on the basis of physical examinations conducted by Atos, according to the RBL . The company is contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to assess benefits claimants’ capability to work.



The new scheme which gives workers the chance to trade in employment rights in return for tax-free shares in their company has been one of the Government’s more controversial ideas. First announced by the Chancellor in October 2012, the new employee-owner contracts are intended to promote growth in fast-growing businesses by cutting down the burden of employment law. But they have attracted criticism by those who fear they’ll be open to abuse .Under the Scheme:    employers can give staff shares in the company worth between £2,000 and £50,000 which are exempt from capital gains tax.

    employees surrender some of their statutory employment rights, including some unfair dismissal claims and rights to redundancy pay and to request

    flexible working and training.

    Employee owners have to give twice the amount of notice period when returning from maternity or adoption leave.

    Employee owners still keep some of their rights, such as unfair dismissal in cases of discrimination.

    If an employee-owner is made redundant, the business can buy back the shares


UNUM ANOTHER CORRUPT VENTURE OF THE TORIES                                                                                     A little about Lawrence Churchill CBE (that means nothing Prescot Lord)He is Chairman of the National Employers Savings Trust.Chairman of Financial Services Compensation Scheme.Director of Bupa.Trustee of The Longevity Centre UK.CEO of Natwest Life and Investments.Served on Employers Forum on Disability and Financial Ombusman Service.

Executive chairman and managing director of UNUM Ltd the European arm of Provident Inc,the worlds largest disability insurer.Remember UNUM (refer to updated news) they are the company that taught ATOS how to assess the sick and disabled on behalf of the DWP.With the four above's previous I wouldn't trust NEST with my worst enemies welfare never mind my money for my pension.Employers BEWARE.Unum is banned in seven state's in America,it has been involved in this country's health programme since 1994 .Hence NHS reforms Welfare Reforms and the involvement of ATOS ,not fit for purpose regime .31/10/12  The Government  loaned to Nest in March 2011 £171 million ,just recently they gave them £9.8 million free gratis of Tax Payers Money ,the Tories are still milking the public purse.      



From: P. Wilkinson

Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,


It has been brought to my attention that the company Unum, who are

employed as advisers to the DWP, were highlighted in a BBC article

in 2007, which many of us still can access.

In this excellent and informative report, it was stated

Quote “Mark Daly, presenter: The BBC has discovered internal

documents revealing that Unum believes it is driving Government

policy. The Department for Work and Pensions refused to comment on

Unum’s past. A spokesman said: “Throughout the process of

developing our policies…. Ministers and officials have met and

spoken to hundreds of organisations and individuals like Unum to

find out what works.” As Unum attempt to leave its chequered past

behind, the debate over UK welfare reform will rage on”.

Mark Daly – BBC News . Which brings me to the point of my enquiry; I would like to make a

FOI request from the BBC and ask what was actually disclosed in

“the internal documents revealing that Unum believes it is driving

Government Policy”, as stated in the paragraph above.

... This clearly implies that Unum are employed by the DWP to cause

financial hardship to the sick and disabled of this country. This

was not tolerated in the USA but the British government have

welcomed Unum with open arms. The public should be alerted to this

as soon as possible and it would make another very interesting BBC


Yours faithfully