You will know that I have been pretty critical of the Work Capability Assessment. This is the tool by which sick and disabled claimants are assessed for entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance (the new name for Incapacity Benefit).
The Government will tell you that it has reviewed the WCA and implemented all the suggestions made by Professor Harrington. However, a new report, The People’s Review of the Work Capability Assessment has some very worrying indications of some harsh treatment at the assessment, bureaucratic incompetence and very poor decisions. On top of that, there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of mental health conditions and fluctuating conditions.
I would strongly recommend that you read some of the actual documented experience. Don’t be put off by some of the emotive language in the introduction, which I feel goes a bit far. Read the actual referenced accounts of what happens.
A few examples to be going along with:
- Man sent ATOS assessment form. He’s in a coma. His wife tells DWP and is told to get letter from hospital and send it to ATOS. She does. They don’t record it and he loses his benefit. Surely the wief had enough to be going on with a sick husband.
- Man given appointment for a Sunday. He turns up and this is verified by a health professional. He then gets his benefit stopped for failing to appear on the right day.
- Terminally ill person with brain tumour told they could work for a specified period which was the same as their expected life span
- People being prevented from taking notes at their assessment on pain of being marked as being non compliant and losing benefit
- Someone had a panic attack during their assessment and was told to “stop messing about.”
- Someone severely disabled, tube fed, blind, deaf, who suffers frequent seizures, requiring 24 hour care being told they are fit to work.
- Someone with a mental age of 7 being marked fit for work
- Same assessor medically retiring someone from their employer then awarding them no points for ESA