Ending the Work Capability Assessment means the end of its good features too

Smug: Jeremy Hunt’s decision to end the Work Capability Assessment could endanger the lives and well-being of many thousands of sick and disabled people. It isn’t even likely to get more of them into jobs.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s announcement – that the Work Capability Assessment for people claiming long-term sickness benefits is ending – provoked a strong knee-jerk reaction from many of us.

It is good that this tick-box assessment that has led to many thousands of wrong decisions (including in the case of the now-legendary Mrs Mike) is to fall out of use.

But we’re now starting to look at the underlying consequences – and some of them are not good, as a letter to The Guardian has stated:

The WCA has features that it is important to retain. One is the right of appeal to an independent tribunal. By contrast, there is no judicial oversight of decisions about work-related requirements made by work coaches; the new proposals leave claimants at the mercy of Department for Work and Pensions officials with no medical training.

Another is the regulation whereby someone who does not otherwise satisfy the criteria can be exempted from work if there is a substantial risk that working would harm their health. There is no equivalent provision in the rules for personal independence payment (Pip), the disability benefit that would serve as the passport to the health-related top-up.

The government’s proposals leave many questions unaddressed: about people too ill to work who don’t meet the criteria for Pip; people on contributory benefit, rather than universal credit; people with short-term conditions, not covered by Pip. Confusions and omissions abound. I can think of better uses for white paper.

In addition, I am told that the ESA regulations of 2008 included sections 29 and 35, which allowed GPs to deem a patient ‘unfit for work’. That is no longer included in the government’s new proposal.

Put it all together and we see that decisions on whether a person should be seeking work or not are to be removed from anybody with specialist understanding of the issues and denied judicial oversight.

People who may be endangered by being forced to seek, or go to, work will have their future decided by unqualified civil servants and will have no opportunity to seek reconsideration.

This is not an improvement. It is an escalation of the danger to the UK’s most vulnerable people.

Expect many deaths – and when they happen, blame Hunt.

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4 thoughts on “Ending the Work Capability Assessment means the end of its good features too

  1. Pip

    This is like a teacher telling their students that the exam has been abolished… while neglecting to mention that this means everyone has an automatic fail mark.

  2. Hecuba

    Appalling but predictable given the fascist tories and I include Sunak and Hunt are determined to force everyone to work, work and work for the benefit of the fascist tories. No one will now be allowed to say ‘I am incapable of working due to a disability/long term ill health!

    The fascist tories have decided this: ‘People who may be endangered by being forced to seek, or go to, work will have their future decided by unqualified civil servants and will have no opportunity to seek reconsideration.’ No appeals will be permitted and no specialist medical practitioner will be allowed to give their expert opinion because fascist tories say ‘everyone can work and must work!’

  3. Gary Bowman

    I would suggest that everyone keeps a detailed diary and audio/video evidence wherever possible. If our only recourse to any sort of support is to collectively hit the press, our “members” of parliament, even crowdfunding an advertising campaign in the press. Find out who in the house of lords is sympathetic and write in droves. Petition on 38 degrees and anywhere else. If we make enough, collective noise, making a huge pain in the arse of ourselves public opinion may turn to us. I know it sounds macabre but what we really need are weekly or monthly figures for deaths and serious harm attributable to any changes. I think it would be a good start if we all start writing down why we were awarded the benefit in the first place and a very detailed comparison of what has changed, or not. Perhaps we can ask some of the disability charities to help us facilitate a coordinated approach. That would be the only suggestion I can put forward, I don’t see any other way than an aggressive campaign based on the “the pen is mightier than the evil bstrds who would actually encourage suicide and kill people through neglect” theory. This country and our transatlantic friends have gone to war on the pretext of a government killing less of its own citizens than this lot are, apparently, responsible for. As a final thought, if there is a negative outcome for many (or even a few) we contact the Red Cross and ask them to contact the UN on our behalf again. With a lot of people ill through long Covid it may, this time, carry more weight. I don’t know how anyone else feels about this, or has any further suggestions. I suggest we start to prepare just incase we need to mobilise something. We couldn’t plan for a marching protest, the anti democratic laws will prevent that. But, we sure as hell can make some noise. It’s about time they stopped giving us a kicking, every time they run out of credibility. Of course, on the face of it, Starmbour are likely to support the government or follow the same path, if in government.

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