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Sidelined: People like this lady have campaigned across the UK against the unfair assessment system for sickness and disability benefits. Now that they are finally getting an inquiry into this corrupt system, are their views going to be ignored? [Image: Guardian]

Sidelined: People like this lady have campaigned across the UK against the unfair assessment system for sickness and disability benefits. Now that they are finally getting an inquiry into this corrupt system, are their views going to be ignored? [Image: Guardian]

Here’s a disturbing email from the Commons Work and Pensions committee:

“Thank you for your submission to Work and Pensions Committee’s inquiry into Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments.

“The Committee has received a large number of written submissions from individuals who have claimed ESA and undergone WCA, setting out their personal experiences of the process.

“Your submission, along with other similar personal testimony submissions, will be circulated to the Members of the Committee as background information to the inquiry rather than published as formal evidence.

“I know that the Committee will find submissions such as yours very helpful in their inquiry and I would therefore like to thank you for taking the time to contribute to the inquiry.”

Background information?

I smell betrayal.

I did not write a detailed description of Mrs Mike’s suffering at the hands of the Department for Work and Pensions, just so that it could be hidden away and ignored as “background information”!

Look at the committee’s original call for evidence. It was “particularly interested” to hear views on, among other things:

  • Delivery of the WCA by Atos, including steps taken to improve the claimant experience
  • The effectiveness of the WCA in indicating whether claimants are fit for work, especially for those claimants who have mental, progressive or fluctuating illnesses, including comparison with possible alternative models
  • The ESA entitlement decision-making process
  • The reconsideration and appeals process
  • The impact of time-limiting contributory ESA and
  • Outcomes for people determined fit for work or assigned to the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) or the Support Group.

The experience endured by Mrs Mike, who has both progressive and fluctuating physical conditions and mental health issues, included a humiliating work capability assessment medical examination and being pushed into the WRAG after a wrong decision by Atos/DWP. The Department failed to inform her of its decision on her appeal, and failed to act on that decision before cutting her benefit (it didn’t tell her that was going to happen either). If I had not been around to stand up for her, she might have been thrown onto the streets by now.

Is the Work and Pensions Committee no longer “particularly interested” in stories like that?

If so, what kind of inquiry are we likely to get?

A whitewash?

Dame Anne Begg chairs this committee. I’m going to contact her and see what she has to say for herself and her people.

If you have received the same communication, no doubt you’ll want some answers as well. Please let me know if you have.

It is entirely possible that there is a good reason for what I’ve been given. Until I know what it is, though, I have to suspect the worst.

If I wait for this inquiry to take place and then find we’ve all been betrayed, it will be too late.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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