Dec 232011
 
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This is an important and urgent message from the Mental Health Resistance Network.

As you all know, members of the Mental Health Resistance Network have been working with a solicitor towards making a claim for a Judicial Review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) which is the assessment used to determine whether we will be granted Employment Support Allowance or sent back to work (if there is any work to be found!). We are just focussing on people who claim on mental health grounds.    

We are now at a critical stage in this process as we are very close to being able to make the claim for Judicial Review. However, before we can do this, it would help if we could find stories that will show the court what sort of problems the WCA causes. So we are looking for people who have been through the process and would be able to tell us about their experience. If people wish, we can present their cases anonymously when we use their evidence. Although it would be very good if people were prepared for us to give their names to the DWP so that the DWP could check their stories, it is not essential.

There are two types of experience that we are particularly interested in (in the solicitor’s words):

 (i)  Cases where a person claims ESA without producing any medical evidence and is refused benefit, but then wins on appeal when medical evidence is obtained.

(ii)  Cases where a person claims ESA without producing any medical evidence, is refused benefit, does not appeal (perhaps because they can’t face it), and then bad things happen (for example they go into work and become ill, or have a problem, or can’t get work, or whatever). Ideally, the case is recognised down the line as a problem because a CAB or law centre makes a new application with medical evidence and benefit is awarded.

In other words: 

1) you have you claimed and been turned down for ESA but were successful on appeal when you produced additional medical evidence 

 or 

2) were you turned down for ESA and did not appeal but reapplied with medical evidence, and were successful. 

 You can send your stories to: mentalhealthresistancenetwork@gmail.com

 Or you can write to the solicitor whose address is below. 

 This affects us all so please pass on everyone you know who may be able to help. One last point, we need these stories urgently so if you can help, please contact us as quickly as possible.

Ravi Low-Beer

Solicitor

Public Law Project

150 Caledonian Road

London N1 9RD

 Tel: 0845 543 5944

Fax: 0845 345 9254

 

 

May 202011
 

From now until Spring 2014 all those who are receiving Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance and Income Support paid on the grounds of illness or disability will be assessed for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), undergoing a stringent Work Capability Assessment (WCA) carried out by the French Company Atos who are contracted by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

First introduced in 2008, the much criticised WCA has become even more punitive since changes in the 2011 edition of the training manual for assessors. Pilots in Aberdeen and Burnley have raised more criticisms of the process adding to the raft of criticisms from the British Medical Association, GPs, Citizens Advice Bureaus (CABs), Members of Parliament and disability organisations.

Those going through the test can be put into one of three groups: ESA Support Group not required to undertake work-related activity – but will be reassessed continuously; ESA Work Related Activity Group, for those deemed fit for work with support and preparation. It will be limited to just 12 months before ESA is stopped, and also may be subject to reassessment in the 12 month period; or Fit for Work, not entitled to ESA but transferred to a lower amount on Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Read the rest at LSE blog

A number of demonstrations were held last week in response to Atos and benefit cuts, see: http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/, and you can view a video of the protests against Atos on the Guardian’s website.

———-Debbie Jolly

Debbie Jolly

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