From the WCA, the disability assessment test which was supposed to be the panacea for all ills, helping 1 million disabled people moving into work and thereby reducing the employment gap, supporting financially those not well enough to work, the WCA has turned to be a blunt and lethal instrument. What DPAC has known for years, through the letters sent by thousands of disabled people, has now been confirmed by a scientific study.
The WCA is linked to more suicides, mental ill health and antidepressant use as evidenced by experts from Oxford University and Liverpool University’s study, which found that after taking account of the impact of baseline deprivation, economic trends, and long-term trends in mental health, there were around six extra suicides, 2,700 more cases of mental ill health and an extra 7,020 prescriptions for anti-depressants for every 10,000 people reassessed during this period, which equates to 590 additional suicides, 279,000 extra cases of mental ill-health and 725,000 more prescriptions for anti-depressants across the country as a whole between 2010 and 2013.
Linked does not always mean ‘causal’, although several coroners’ inquests into suicides have now shown it to be the case.
Despite mounting evidence, the government has always refused to acknowledge the harm done by the WCA, and keep parroting that work is good for health.
What this study shows is that harm is not only done by benefits loss, but by the fear of it, a testimony to the arbitrary nature of this assessment. Harm is done by giving too short prognosis, in case somebody would spend an extra day on benefits than he/she should have done, leading to endless reassessments. Harm is done by cancelled appointments, and assessors’ lack of sensitivity. Harm is done by having to prove endlessly your impairments or chronic health condition, and by not being believed. Harm is done by mistakes or deliberate and systematic errors. Harm is done by being left destitute after the loss of ESA. Harm is done by the Work Programme and its long litany of sanctions, misery and suffering
As early as 2010, the DWP knew that this test was the direct cause of at least one suicide. Somebody at DWP decided to sit on it. Prior to that, in the last weeks of the Labour government (who introduced the test, the DWP were warned of the harm it would cause
Not only has the time come to scrap the WCA, but also to hold people, from whichever party, accountable for this atrocity.