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Woodstock conference on “malingering and illness deception”, partly funded by UnumProvident and DWP, will play a key role in justifying welfare reform.

What: Mansel Aylward (by now DWP’s chief medical officer) and John LoCascio (UnumProvident’s second vice-president and medical director, the Major government’s appointed adviser for ‘welfare claims management’) contribute to conference held at Woodstock, near Oxford, which examines so-called “malingering and illness deception”, arguing that “malingering” is a lifestyle choice for many claimants of long-term sickness benefits.  Many of the presentations will be published in 2003, by Oxford University Press, in Malingering and Illness Deception, by Peter Halligan and Christopher Bass. The conference is partly funded by Unum and DWP, and its purpose has been summed up by Jonathan Rutherford as none other than “the transformation of the welfare system”.

Why significant: The conference would be key in transforming the welfare system, shifting the cultural meaning of illness (Rutherford, 2018), and helping to justify the “future demolition of the welfare state” (Stewart, 2016).


Stewart, Mo. (2016). ‘Cash not Care: the planned demolition of the welfare state’. New Generation Publishing