Re-testing of chronically sick benefit claimants is scrapped – but millions more will still suffer 

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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13 thoughts on “Re-testing of chronically sick benefit claimants is scrapped – but millions more will still suffer 

  1. Dez

    Would not be an issue if this was a fair system where full health conditions were vetted by persons with financial agendas and the claimants full medical history was taking a dominant role in the whole assessment process. It is broken and wanting and this sounds like a useful sound bite for Mother T the saviour of the poor and vulnerable from those nasty Cons cheap tricks and backdoor privatisation companies on a vicious mission.

  2. Brian

    Something had to break, but cynical as ever it’s right to think this is to counter Labour’s proposals. This will not be in isolation, other counter proposals will follow, perhaps the doctors contract is next. The good news, is that this may not have happened had Corbyn been deposed.

  3. Zippi

    This hs been a long time coming. Commonsense, of course, would have scrapped the idea whist it was still an idea. Shame in this government that it has had to come to this. A step in the right direction but one that should never have had to be made.

    1. Toni

      I couldn’t agree more…scrap all the ESA / PIP assessments i say, and go back to the old Benefit system at least people got what they’re were entitled too?

  4. John Ingamells

    Until the details of and specific examples become clearer of just which of the many many chronic illnesses are to be afforded the DWP freedom from stress. The many who have such blighted lives and might just be given the decency of granting less stress and anxiety to lives of some of those who suffer day after day. Until the facts emerge and are substantive and clear, i reserve my judgement on a government which has shown no desire to transmit understanding and compassion in the 6 years it has had control. In fact it has revelled in making the weakest and most vulnerable suffer and struggle, demeaning and spreading anxiety of the brown envelope to all whose lives have seen them become targets for government and televisual entertainment and poverty porn. We will see if there is a beating heart of compassion or is this merely a conveniently timed use of propaganda?

  5. Stu

    It’s good to see that the Tory Government are so rattled and worried about a strong Labour oposition that they adopt (steal) the opposition’s policies to curry favour with their right-leaning members.
    Employing Tony Blair’s advisor shows their true intent.
    Long may it continue……

  6. Toni

    ”How many think that life was much easier” with our old Benefit system, it really did not need adjusting did it? …”like the old saying if it ain’t broke”

    I remember it provided a fair system where you still needed to fill in the forms, plus it didn’t cause thousands of deaths, look what we have now!! it’s wrecked many lives since it’s change over, it’s confusing and most of all

    .IT DOES NOT WORK FAIRLY!!

    1. paulrutherford8

      That may depend on the outcome of the DWP appeal against our win. The Supreme Court judges will be handing down their verdict sometime soon I hope. We’ve been waiting since March to find out.
      But really, I doubt they’ll scrap bedroom tax… it will affect pensioners as well after 2018, something I always said would happen… tories are tories at the end of the day and don’t really care about us plebs. Not at all.

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