Thursday, 17 February 2011


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Work test 'not fit for purpose'
Sunil Peck

Campaigners have welcomed an independent review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA, but have warned that the system for determining whether or not people are capable of being moved off benefits and back into work will continue to fail disabled people.

The independent review is the first of five statutory annual reviews of the WCA and was carried out by Professor Malcolm Harrington, an occupational health specialist.

Professor Harrington found that the assessment which decides whether someone will receive Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), is failing because questionnaires are "lengthy" and sometimes difficult or impossible to fill in and that assessments fail people with fluctuating conditions because they rely on stock questions such as whether or not a claimant can load a washing machine.

The review has put forward recommendations including the introduction of mental health specialists in medical assessment centres to spread good practice; reducing reliance on the medical assessments and giving more power to job centre staff; Improving communications and the level of support provided to those who undergo a WCA and Ensuring the medical assessment is transparent by, subject to an initial pilot, recording all assessments.

The Minister for Employment Chris Grayling accepted the recommendations and said that Professor Harrington's review was a "crucial" step to helping thousands of people into work.

He said: "It’s in everyone’s interest that we get the WCA right and Professor Harrington’s recommendations will make the assessment fairer and more effective."

Dr Mark Baker, Co-Chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium, said: "The extent of the Review’s recommendations clearly indicate that the current WCA process is deeply flawed and the Government needs to make sure that, once they have implemented the recommendations, these issues are fully resolved.

They should not proceed with moving claimants of older incapacity benefits onto ESA, via the WCA, until it is clear that the assessment is working fairly and effectively."
Neil Coyle, Director of Policy at Disability Alliance, said that the coalition government's response would not reassure disabled people that the system would be made fairer because of a desire in the DWP to cut the number of ESA claimants.

Commenting on the uncertainty over how long the government might take to implement the recommendations, he said: "Thousands of disabled people will remain inadequately served by the test and inappropriately directed to insufficient support. Costs to taxpayers will continue to rise through high numbers of avoidable appeals and DWP incurring avoidable costs."

Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of Scope, said that he hoped that the recommendations would increase disabled peoples' confidence in the WCA.

But he added: "Disabled people face a myriad of barriers to employment, from practical to social and psychological. We urge Professor Harrington to make it his priority to look at how the WCA takes into consideration all of these barriers and therefore give a more accurate representation of someone’s likelihood to get a job."

Posted by sarntcrip at 20 Jan 11 10:49
SURELY Implementing a work capability assessment must be illegal!
one also wonders if a disabled person says they are not fit to work
and is contradicted by the wca but goes on to win the appeal whether
an action for defamation of character could then be won after all those of us who cannot work are basically being told we are liars inspite of copious amounts of evidence from the myriad of forms held by dwp and records of care packages held by social services meanwhile the private company(which presumeably must incorporate a profit margin
in what it charges the taxpayer for this unfit for purpose WCA THE WCA SHOULD BE CARRIED OUT BYMEDICALLY QUALIFIED STAFF AT LEAST TO GP LEVEL surely scope has lawyers who canreserarch the legality of rolling out a flawed process across the nation to existing claimantsIT STINKSwhere is the opposition leader on this?
as loud as a mouse!It is wrong to leave us in this limbo not knowing when or if we will be assessed yet again andhow much moneythe government will steal back from us they already get 20% in vat
Ifor one am sick of being labelled a scrounger by people who cannot even be honest about their expenses
Posted by Jayne Linney at 01 Feb 11 13:30
I could not agree more and unfortunately believe things can only get worse. I also think it is about time someone challenged the legality of a benefit system that starts with the premise that we, as applicants/recipients, as liars as this appears to be in direct opposition with the Law wherein a person id deemed innocent until proved guilty, I'd willingly contest this if I could afford the legal support
Posted by paula gallimore at 12 Feb 11 22:32
surely it is not wtite for the goverment to decide on whether some one with a diability is fit to work or not,what about those who have flucktuating condtions they cannot garantie,that they can go in to work each day,or what they will be like from hour to hour,there will be people who are disabled living on the streets because of this new work test,as we are not told that they will give us a job we are just told we will be taken off our benefits and put into the job market where you are competing with the fit abled bodyed.