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.