‘Fit-for-work’ tests should be scrapped, says adviser. What will the Tories do?

A protest against benefit sanctions outside the Department for Work and Pensions on March 9 [Image: Vickie Flores/Vickie Flores/Rex/Shutterstock].

Matthew Oakley is quite correct, of course – the benefit system for the disabled isn’t about helping them; it’s about persecution.

Worse than that is what can be read between the lines of the Guardian‘s report.

Job outcomes have remained static for 15 years while spending on ESA has soared. Doesn’t that tell us that more people are claiming the benefit, even after all Iain Duncan Smith’s efforts to stop them?

And doesn’t that mean that all his “well-intentioned” (take that with a pinch of salt) changes have made their conditions worse? Isn’t that why they are “hated and feared” by the vulnerable?

Isn’t it more accurate to say that the system, while indeed not being about “support” but being about “making people jump through the same hoops again and again”, now has a more sinister purpose?

Isn’t it about forcing people into routines that are exhausting – both physically and mentally – in the hope that they will give up?

Isn’t it about the DWP hoping people will either stop claiming the benefit or commit suicide – outcomes the government can claim are nothing to do with it and for which it will refuse to accept responsibility?

Isn’t it time we all realised that this is the only way the government will ever get claimant numbers down under the current system – by a large number of deaths that are intended to go unrecorded?

Controversial fit-for-work tests should be abandoned and benefit sanctions scrapped for people with chronic illness or a disability, an influential government adviser has said.

The current system disability benefits is “broken” and must be comprehensively overhauled if the government is to meet its target of getting a million sick and disabled people into work, said Matthew Oakley, who is a member of the Department for Work and Pensions’ independent social security advisory committee.

After years of major changes, including the introduction of tighter benefit rules and more stringent assessments, the government should be brave enough to give up on a system that has failed disabled people, he said.

In a report for the Social Market Foundation thinktank, Oakley writes that many disabled people have been driven furtherfrom the job market by “well-intentioned” changes that have not only proved to be ineffectual but are hated and feared by vulnerable claimants.

Job outcomes for disabled people have remained static over the past 15 years, while spending has soared on the disability unemployment benefit, known as employment and support allowance (ESA), said Oakley.

He told the Guardian: “All it [the system] has done is upset people and cause huge amounts of controversy. Costs are growing. It has not got disabled people into work. What is clear is that the current system is broken.

“Many people on disability benefit really do want to work but they feel broken by the system. It is not about providing support, it is about getting them to jump through the same hoops again and again, and they feel defeated.”

Source: ‘Broken’ disability benefits need total overhaul, says government adviser | Society | The Guardian

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9 thoughts on “‘Fit-for-work’ tests should be scrapped, says adviser. What will the Tories do?

  1. che

    He also wants to scrap the support group and have the supplement made up along the lines of pip. This is highly dangerous.

  2. Mr.Angry

    The sadness being this evil government will not care one jot to what Matthew Oakley has so rightly described these barbaric reforms overseen by a a tyrant.

  3. lanzalaco

    In a roundabout way the new changes to permitted work will allow a topup to ESA. As recipients can earn up to 100 extra a week on a time unlimited basis. The WCA test was a terrible idea, by setting the definitions for capability to work so low, the government have shot themselves in the foot. Its not a competent or practical test at all. Actually a completely wasted opportunity as they had the change to gather real data which could have improved the current system.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      That’s brilliant – people on the sick-from-work benefit ESA can earn more money if they work.
      Have a good, hard think about that one.

      1. brianfkirkham

        Mike – that’s fantastic – but for one little thing – The opportunity for work has to be there – and furthermore the opportunity has to be paid to make it worthwhile . Have someone with a disability working full time without any assessment or incentive – you might as well call it workfare and save money on the cost of printing separate documents.

  4. Barry

    “Job outcomes have remained static for 15 years while spending on ESA has soared.” How much of that is spent on very expensive appeals following rejection of valid claims I wonder?

  5. Terry Davies

    what about a fit for continuing as an MP test with deselection sanctions if they fail to register or fail the test. Could apply to the PM and be overseen by a randomly chosen peoples panel. composition of the panel should include those unemployed, financial experts, and those fron all minority groups. they could sanction MPs salaries make them contribute to their pensions and ensure their voting histories are published if they fail the test or dont register. their votes could have a point system and the points be reduced on deselection for corrupt practices.
    this could lead to policies being overturned in the event of proven corruption.

  6. Joan Edington

    These tests are farcical and only serve the DWP. We thought ATOS was bad but Maximus are no better, although some of their failings recently have been because of DWP incompetence. A guy in Aberdeenshire was sanctioned the other week for missing his annual medical test. He is so disabled that he can’t get to a centre and qualified for a home visit, which Maximus said it would do. However, the DWP has not authorised any GPs north of Glasgow/Edinburgh so the guy was put in the queue for a visit from one of those towns. The waiting list is so long that his time was up before he got to the front of the Maximus queue. Although it wasn’t his fault, the money stopped. Obviously, to the DWP at least, nobody north of Edinburgh/Glasgow matters. I doubt if they know such places exist at times.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      That’s very close to what happened to Mrs Mike – she was put in the WRAG and appealed, but her time ran out before the DWP did anything about it. The full story is in a previous article.

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