Successful ‘fit for work’ appeals add to evidence against ‘work capability assessment’ system

Graham Shawcross: He won an appeal against a 'fit for work' decision - months after his death.

Graham Shawcross: He won an appeal against a ‘fit for work’ decision, but the verdict came several months after his death.

How long will the Conservative Government continue to resist calls to scrap its nonsense ‘work capability assessment’, while publishing evidence that shows it should go?

This week, the DWP published statistical evidence showing that the number of Employment and Support Allowance claimants who won an appeal against a ‘fit for work’ decision hit its highest-ever rate between April and June last year – the last three months for which the numbers were available.

The DWP has argued that the actual number of appeals has plummeted, but the fact is that this happened after the introduction of mandatory reconsideration – a process that forces claimants to resubmit their cases for consideration by DWP decision makers, with no benefit being paid to them for an indeterminate time, before they are allowed to appeal. This is, of course, blatantly unfair – and brutal on claimants, who cannot seek support from Jobseekers’ Allowance as that benefit requires them to sign a form saying they are fit for work, and their argument is that they are not.

In any case, the DWP’s argument would be false. Its own figures show that, in the year from July 2013 to June 2014, the rate of successful appeals was greater than that of overturned cases in 10 of the 12 months (including four months before mandatory reconsideration was introduced on October 28, 2013).

This Writer will have to add the numbers to the other statistics that have come from the DWP, in order to consider whether the drop in the number of appeals may have increased the number of fatalities among ESA claimants, but the prima facie evidence is clear: Work capability assessments are failing vulnerable people.

This will be no surprise to long-term readers of This Blog, who will know that the assessment process is a tick-box computer game, based on a discredited idea known as biopsychosocial theory. The idea was imported into the UK by an American insurance corporation called Unum, which had been using it as an excuse to refuse payouts on its own health insurance policies. That practice earned Unum a criminal record in the United States.

For the record, the UK government, acting on Unum’s advice, introduced Employment and Support Allowance, complete with the work capability assessment, as a way of testing whether people claiming benefits on the grounds of incapacity for work really deserved the money. Critics argue that it is a miserable failure at supporting those who need help and was introduced mainly to save money by throwing vulnerable people off-benefit.

The fact that the DWP does not keep records for the number of people who have died more than two weeks after being assessed as ‘fit for work’, coupled with the lack of information on deaths while people have been awaiting mandatory reconsideration, means the DWP has been able to claim that both deaths and appeals against decisions have dropped off, when it is far more likely that they have increased – but gone unrecorded.

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18 thoughts on “Successful ‘fit for work’ appeals add to evidence against ‘work capability assessment’ system

  1. Mr.Angry

    It’s an IDS thing low level of mentality, illogical and waste of tax payers money. But with that said and done it satisfies the evil streak which runs the full length of smiths jelly like backbone.

    He can’t stop he is totally mad and evil to the core. So sadly we all have to suffer.

  2. AndyH

    1500 drowned on The Titanic, and consequently ships were required to have adequate lifeboats, speed limits and safety drills. When will the architects of ESA be held to account?

      1. Rick Meister (@Richievilla)

        I forgot to mention, the success rate for DLA appeals is now 56%. So it is now (to use an IDS word) “normal” for people who appeal to have their original decision. When IDS took over the DWP the success rate for ESA appeals was 38% and for DLA was 41%, so large rises for both under his “leadership”. The figures are even more shocking because these people will have already had a mandatory reconsideration before going to appeal.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Just to clarify – the success rate means these appeals have been overturned, yes?
        Or are you arguing against yesterday’s findings?
        Your comment is unclear as you say it’s now “normal” for people who appeal to end up with their original decision, which I would have thought was refusal. That’s not what’s been suggested.

      3. Rick Meister (@Richievilla)

        Yes Mike the success rate is the percentage that are overturned. The latest figures have 58% of ESA appeals overturning the original decision (up from 38% in 2009/10, when IDS took over the DWP), and 57% for PIP and 56% for DLA (up from 41% in 2009/10).

  3. Robbie

    Nothing surprise me with the DWP and IDS anymore. What do you expect from a man who commits the criminal offence of Disable-ism, by saying in a parliamentary speech” normal,non-disabled people” but can not be prosecuted due to parliamentary privilege. I have the pleasure of being a presenter on my local internet based radio SheppeyFM which on yesterdays show I started talking about all of this and am going to continue to….. I’m also getting local politicians on to including my local MP to talk about this. As I said on my show if it was not so serious it would prob be funny…….but it is not it is bordering on genocide!

    1. Phil Lee

      Bordering on?
      Surely there must be two doctors somewhere with enough conscience to section IDS under the mental health act as a danger to others? He’s clearly a psychopath.

  4. Sandy

    I’ve also read elsewhere that when appealing ESA decisions IF the claimant has professional support – CAB, Welfare Rights officer, solicitor,etc – the success rate for appeals is 80%.
    It jumped to 95% for these law students who took on cases.

    To play devil’s advocate, perhaps these students/professionals cherry-picked their cases? Even so, 95% is on hell of a success rate… for students against the might of the DWP.

  5. mrmarcpc

    This is sickening, just proves how evil, twisted and sick minded these a***holes are, I bet they laughed their b***s off when they did this, drove this poor man into an early grave and then to rub further salt into the wound of his grieving family, they say that he won his appeal, their vile way to get their jollies, these people are monsters and should be held to account for what they’ve done the sooner the better!

  6. paulrutherford8

    I know of several people myself, who applied for DLA/PIP, who were turned down. None of them appealed. One just said, “well, I can’t be ‘bad’ enough”; one was furious, but “don’t have the energy to try again”.

    I wonder how many similar cases there are? Deserving people who are turned down in the first place that never [for lots of reasons we all know], ask for reconsideration or further appeal?

  7. don

    Mike Sivier, I have information that would be useful for your work regarding DWP and WCA’s, however I do not wish to publish this openly what is this best way to contact you? can I post via this method and insure that you dont publish this? (richie allen show you said this) would how ever be more comfortable with an email address.. thanks Don

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Just send me your information as a comment and mark it ‘not for publication’. I’m not comfortable handing out my email address, and I’m very good at dividing what should be published as a comment from private communications.

  8. denise pilling

    I am not happy with this and think Jeremy Corbin should look in to this situation very quickly as these decisions are killing the people of this country

Comments are closed.