Work and Pensions secretary Damian Green [Image: Andrew Matthews/PA].

Work and Pensions secretary Damian Green [Image: Andrew Matthews/PA].

Damian Green’s decision to scrap re-testing of chronically sick benefit claimants is clearly a response to Labour’s promise to scrap the Work Capability Assessment altogether.

It reminds This Writer of an episode of The Goon Show – I think it was The Histories of Pliny the Elder – in which Julius Caesar, invading Britain, challenges Caractacus Seagoon to a football match.

Pretty soon, Seagoon halts the game, claiming Caesar is cheating: “You’re only supposed to have 11 men on the field and I’ve counted 574 of yours so far!”

To which, Caesar replies: “All right.

“I’ll send one off.”

There are plenty of other persecution tools left for the DWP to use against the sick and disabled – especially since it seems the definition of the “chronically sick” will be as arbitrary as all the other rules we’ve seen so far.

Some are suggesting this may be a PR exercise to mollify the United Nations, which has been investigating the UK for serious abuses of the sick and disabled.

Only a few thousand claimants are likely to be affected, and new claimants will – of course, still have to take the Work Capability Assessment.

And if ESA re-assessments are costly and unnecessary, does that mean PIP reassessments are also on the way out?

What will happen with the work-related activity group of ESA? Will it be combined with Jobseekers’ Allowance and the resulting melange combined with Universal Credit? People who need sheltered working conditions won’t fit the criteria – what will happen to them?

These are just a few of the questions raised by Mr Green’s announcement.

Chronically sick benefit claimants will no longer be required to prove they are still ill every six months, the work and pensions secretary has announced.

Employment support allowance will now continue automatically for those who have lifelong, severe health conditions with no prospect of improvement, Damian Green said.

The testing process, which includes reassessing conditions every six months, has come under intense criticism for failing some of the most seriously ill and disabled.

The criteria will be drawn up with health professionals but illnesses such as severe Huntington’s, autism or a congenital heart condition, are among those that are likely to qualify for continuous payments without reassessment.

Source: DWP scraps retesting for chronically ill sickness benefits claimants | Society | The Guardian

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