The Work Capability Assessment should have been a ‘can’t do’ test | Pat’s Petition

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign]

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign]

There has been so much discussion of the ‘can do’ approach to sickness and disability that the ‘can’t do’ narrative has been completely overwhelmed. ESA swept in on a wave of ‘can do’. And crashed.

The discussion amongst campaigners … has shown the ‘can do’ and ‘can’t do’ narratives appear to be in opposition between different disability campaigners, between different sick and disabled people, and perhaps within each person too.

But they aren’t in opposition. They are both part of the same story. They are both valid. So why not let each person own both their narratives and let the two narratives exist side by side?

When we are discussing gateway entitlement to an income replacement benefit like ESA, we need to look at ‘can’t do’. Income replacement benefits in our welfare system are awarded to people who can’t work. This is where WCA went so drastically wrong. ESA should be awarded for ‘can’t do’. WCA should have been a ‘can’t do’ test to award security and peace of mind.

‘Can’t do’ runs right through sickness and disability. Looked at from the perspective of the sick or disabled person – they see barriers to work at home when they are getting ready to leave for work – barriers on the journey – barriers at work performing the required tasks. This adds up to a lack of confidence and seems like ‘can’t do’.

Looked at from the employers’ end of the telescope these barriers look like reduced productivity, and once that reaches 20%, and probably a lot of management hassle too, s/he probably wants to say NO. So that is a ‘can’t do’ unless government intervenes in the job market with initiatives like subsidies or quotas.

These ‘can’t do’ problems are real, and a sick or disabled person who is dealing with them needs to be out and proud and able to own these ’can’t do’ difficulties. They need a safe, secure income replacement benefit, without conditionality, threats and pressure. This should be the covenant with the state.

But there is also the ‘can do’ narrative. There are a host of imaginative and innovative ways around these barriers. Let any sick or disabled person who wants to work be entitled to ask for skilled personalised help to solve these problems. Develop these initiatives initially focussing on the many people who desperately want to get back to work.

Both narratives are fine, as long as you don’t mix them. Don’t let efforts to ‘can do’ and ‘get a job’ put safe benefits at risk. Let the sick or disabled person own both their ‘can do’ and ‘can’t do’ narratives.

Source: WCA should have been a ‘can’t do’ test | Pat’s Petition

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8 thoughts on “The Work Capability Assessment should have been a ‘can’t do’ test | Pat’s Petition

  1. Brian

    The likes of the WCA were deliberately engineered to exclude ‘cant do’, with barriers ignored. The philosophy of original intent, ie, Pre-Tory, took all this into account. The architects of WCA go out off their way to make every aspect difficult for claimants. It inevitably ‘will’ crash, rather than ‘has’ crashed as you say. It could / will never succeed. But there was never any intention of success, merely a drive for people to leave the system, by whatever means. Platitudes of safeguarding the vulnerable are laughable. I would avoid the temptation of using the past tense when addressing this, as I would not underestimate the treachery of this government, and know they are still using obstructive methods. As such, it would find it difficult to accept that changing the narrative will change the M.O. of the clowns in charge, if that is your suggestion.

  2. Gary Aronsson

    For those with eyes to see the die was already cast some time ago with the despicable closure of REMPLOY. This company provided a range of career opportunities for the disabled ,all at proper commercial wages,and paid them by fulfilling some portion of the vast number of local and central government contracts for everything from office furniture to envelopes.A Social Enterprise in the true sense of the phrase,Remploy not only put food on the table for the disabled but in a way that gave them dignity and a sense of achievement.But our caring leaders closed it down and instead of actually helping the disabled in a meaningful way,that also happened to be cost effective,they put these contracts out to open tender,which inevitably means they go to some Chinese labour camp,but they also sacked THOUSANDS of disabled people and then berated them for being unemployed!

    The fact that the British Media and General Public sat back and watched the government gut Remploy and sack several thousand disabled people simply to comply with their fanatical obedience to “market forces” does not suggest that they actually give a bugger for the fate of the disabled,and if they don’t give a bugger for them then what chance do the rest of us have?

    I am myself registered as disabled having undergone surgery for the removal of a tumour which necessitated the loss of over 80% of my thigh muscle.As I already have serious problems with arthritis in my legs and lower back the loss of so much muscle,and the consequent loss of nerve control,has what should be quite obvious permanent negative effects upon my mobility.I CAN actually get around but everything takes ages and I can’t take getting up out of a seat for granted,let alone carry anything much as I have to rely upon a crutch to prevent me falling over when my leg suddenly decides to fold up due to the damaged nerves not always doing what I want them to do!

    Despite being in this situation I now have a form to fill in that clearly equates being able to lift an EMPTY cardboard box or sit in a chair as evidence of being fully fit to compete with the rest of humanity for paid employment.I know full well what my probable fate is and because of that I sometimes wish I had kept the Sarcoma as I would be beyond the reach of this governments spite by now.But the “Work Capability Test” is designed to be almost impossible to pass and some box ticking mutant at ATOS will cheerfully ignore the blindingly obvious and expect me to get by on £72 a week! Curiously enough I applied to REMPLOY myself some time before my arthritis got really bad and was told that they would have employed me if I had been REGISTERED as disabled at that time.Given the current super abundance of foreign scab labour in Britain and the governments proven hostility to the disabled my own future employment prospects do not look very impressive!

  3. mohandeer

    “But they aren’t in opposition. They are both part of the same story. They are both valid. So why not let each person own both their narratives and let the two narratives exist side by side?”
    The assessor will take your words, twist them around, lie through their back teeth and pronounce you fit for work if you go in with a “Can do” attitude, because the DWP is not interested in giving you any thought or consideration. It’s a con from start to finish. Being honest is the worst thing you can offer up to these leeches.

  4. frances

    There are two separate issues here. The motivations of governments including saving money and the myths they project to legitimise this are one thing. And they need to be contested and fought.

    But sick and disabled people also need to try and develop and demand their own model of a fair system for awarding benefits. Mostly in the recent past this has been done using a ‘can do’ model because this is positive and optimistic.

    At Pat’s Petition we were trying to make the point that sick and disabled people also own a ‘can’t do’ narrative and that they should be out and proud about this narrative too. And that when faced with a competitive labour market it is the ‘can’t do’ narrative that should determine safe secure benefits. And the ‘can’t do’ narrative also needs to be addressed with potential employers. People need to be open and confident about it.

    Governments will always distort systems to meet their own agendas. But demanding a fair system to start with is still an important goal.

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