If the DWP is so sure work capability assessments do not harm claimants’ mental health, where is its own research?

The DWP’s disgusting attitude to finding that benefit assessments harm mental health is an opportunity to demand meaningful facts [Image: Getty].

You only have to read the comment columns under any article dealing with disability assessments on This Site to know that the new study is accurate – no matter whether three people were interviewed or 3,000.

Perhaps the researchers at Heriot-Watt and Napier had trouble talking to enough people before their suicidal feelings got the better of them. That’s a depressing thought but entirely in line with the trend among disability benefit claimants these days.

And yet the DWP dismisses the research because it referred to a small sample of claimants.

This is the same government department that refuses to follow up on the health of claimants it denies benefits for more than a couple of weeks after cutting them off – even though we all know huge numbers of them fall victim to poverty and starvation, their own ill-health, or – yes – suicide after a period of weeks or months since the cut-off date.

But let’s not get angry about it. This is an opportunity.

If the DWP disputes the findings of the Heriot-Watt and Napier research, let the DWP do some research of its own.

How about if the DWP follows up on, say, the last two years’ worth of work capability assessments, asking the same questions as the university researchers? That should produce a good, high number of responses (depending on how many are still alive).

We’ll need to know not only how many say their mental health had deteriorated, but also how many are found to have died – and the reasons for those deaths.

There will need to be some independent verification as well. It might be costly, but if the DWP wants to be taken seriously – after the many lies of the past…

Then let Damian Green put his money where his mouth is.

The Government’s fit-to-work tests for access to disability benefits are causing permanent damage to some claimants’ mental health, from which they are not recovering, a new study has warned.

The research, conducted by academics at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt and Napier universities, found that the Work Capability Assessment experience “for many, caused a deterioration in people’s mental health which individuals did not recover from”.

It also established, through dozens of in-depth interviews of people who had been through the tests, that “in the worst cases, the WCA experience led to thoughts of suicide”. Mental health charities said the interviews’ contents “reflect what we hear from people every day”.

Responding to the study, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson appeared to dismiss the interviewees’ experiences as not statistically significant.

“Only thirty people were interviewed for this report, which fails to acknowledge any of the significant improvements we have made to our assessments – particularly for people with mental health conditions,” he said.

“Last year alone at least 35,000 work capability assessments took place in Scotland to help ensure people get the right level of support that they need.” In fact, 37 interviews were conducted for the study.

Source: DWP’s fit-to-work tests ‘cause permanent damage to mental health’, study finds

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12 thoughts on “If the DWP is so sure work capability assessments do not harm claimants’ mental health, where is its own research?

  1. Justin

    The DWP won’t do there own research, they would be to scared of the result as that would point the blame exactly where it belongs and they know it, the reasons that there is such a short uptake on research by people into these things and other issues like telling the press is that people are worried about doing that because there nice little sanction book comes out, in fact i am surprised that they have not tried to include a gagging clause when you sign on

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      There’s no justification for any sanction if somebody talks to the press about the way they have been treated by the DWP.

      1. Justin

        totally agree, then explain the fear factor that some people have when they want to go and complaint against a assessor and then change there mind or as a researcher once said not a lot of many people want to come forward even though the names are not included in the research

  2. Prickly

    In addition to the people with mental health conditions whose mental health is made worse by the DWP and their awful money making companies, there are also the people with physical health conditions who also suffer.

    Plenty of people with physical health conditions, particularly those long term, never get cured illnesses could have started with perfect mental health. However, after filling out the forms, attending the sham ‘medical’ and being told you are ‘fit for work’, it is very easy to end up mentally ill.

    I had been physically ill for a number of years and was on ESA and DLA before the govt. introduced the new system. I had been through the having to deal with my physical illnesses, and coming to terms mentally with knowing my life was restricted and that I would most likely die earlier because of my illness. I had reached acceptance and enjoyed my life as it then was. I could afford my restricted lifestyle on the money I received and was grateful.

    Then came the changes. I would doubt it has left anyone unscathed mentally by what we have had to go through. The endless form filling, the fact that the forms are not then read, apart from to check they have been returned, Doctors and Consultants letters not looked at and dismissed, the humiliation of the ‘medical’, the lies they tell, the physical tricks they want you to perform, the telling you about being ‘fit for work’ lie, the stopping your money.

    Is there any ill person who has been through this farce left unaffected mentally?

    1. Justin

      sure they do get mentally affected some recover though that takes time and then complain, but by the time they complain due to them not being well enough to it is often to late as that goes over the period at which you can complain and amazingly bits of paperwork have dissapeared so they use that as a excuse to say they no longer have it, even though i am sure that under data protection rules you are legally bound to keep data for a consistent amount of time

  3. Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7)

    This is the same government department that refused to conduct a proper impact assessment of the ESA (WRAG) cuts, demanded by both the House of Lords and the Equality and Human Rights Commission; see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tories-block-plan-to-look-at-the-impact-of-their-disability-benefit-cuts-a6909036.html and http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/mar/01/equalities-watchdog-criticises-planned-cuts-to-work-support-allowance.

    1. Tracy Moore

      Is there a way that people can themselves contact an official body to register their experiences if this and be counted? I have bipolar disorder and had my benefits stopped without warning. My mortgage payments lapsed and i even had my free prescriptions cancelled!! I received 8 separate letters in two days telling me everything had been stopped. I didn’t even know about and as a single mum i have found this very hard. Yes, this has led to thoughts of suicide. If this isn’t in itself blatant disability discrimination i do the know what is. This government needs to be made accountable

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Please do not consider suicide. Fighting the government is a much better option for you and everybody else.

      2. Justin

        I would contact who wrote these letters and ask them why and what grounds they had to stop your payments within two days. i would also contact Citizens advice as you sound stressed and this may be better to have someone impartial to assist in the case, if it is the result of a assessment, i handled a case recently with someone who also had bi-polar and they failed them,the person was not properly qualified,i could see that looking through there medical notes, they were a physiotherapist and further digging they were actually a sports psysiotherapist, we went to tribunal and won that case fairly easily, however, this does have a impact, I would also advise seeing your gp and getting everything recorded on your medical notes or if you have a social worker/careteam talk to them about this

        hope this is of some help

  4. mrmarcpc

    They will never do their own research because they simply don’t care about mental health sufferer’s feelings and emotions and what they suffer from, the more they can kill us off, the happier they’ll be!

Comments are closed.