Who Defines Disability?

Adam Johannes on the influence of a research centre at Cardiff University and an insurance giant on devastating changes in welfare provision for the sick and disabled


The Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research, currently part of the School of Medicine at Cardiff University, has attracted little scrutiny from Welsh civil society, media, activists or politicians. This is surprising given the pivotal role it has played in welfare reform and the influence of its work on controversial shifts in government policy towards the sick and disabled, from the Blair years to the current administration.

Founded in 2004, the centre was then known as the UnumProvident Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research with the US multinational (later rebranded as ‘Unum’) bankrolling it until 2009. The nature of this research had a striking affinity with the Labour and Tory/LibDem efforts to try to find ways to cut the numbers of people entitled to sickness and disability benefits, and therefore slash the welfare budget...

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