In 2016, despite opposition from campaigners, peers, charities and even Conservative MPs, the government voted to slash Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by £30 a week for people in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG). The DWP claimed (as ever) that this would give people an ‘incentive’ to return to work, (but failed to supply any supporting evidence). Conservative MP, Heidi Allen MP argued “I do not believe mentoring and support alone will heat the home of someone recovering from chemotherapy, nor help out the man with Parkinson’s who needs a little bit of extra help.”
The WCA is an unreliable tick box exercise, driven by targets, and was ultimately designed to deny genuine claimants social security. Consequently severely disabled people end up in the WRAG, including Paul Mickleburgh, a man who has had 14 heart attacks.
People can find out how their MP voted here (note: only Tory MPs voted in favour of this). If you are unsure who your MP is you can use this website. Campaigner Rachael Swindon, has created memes of (almost) all the MPs who voted for this draconian cut. Here is an example:
(Description; on the right there is a photograph of MP Daniel Kawczynski. Text on the left reads: Daniel Kawczynski: Tory MP for Shrewsbury, Daniel on claming expenses: “I am always intrigued by the fascination with MPs’ expenses,” he said. “I just don’t understand what the story is”. The story here is simple Daniel, you claimed £174,473.29 in one year BUT still voted to cut ESA for his sick and disabled constituents.)
Rachael’s memes highlight the hypocrisy of MPs, and how out of touch they are with their constituents; with her permission we have uploaded them to our google drive account (they are arranged by surname, in alphabetical order). Please name and shame your MP on social media (or even use them for posters). The war on social security must be an issue in the upcoming General Election. Some MPs on this list (such as Byron Davies) have wafer-thin majorities, and can easily be ousted from the Commons. (Please let us know if your MP is not included, and we’ll see what we can do).
‘The Work Capability Assessment’ is a 30 minute presentation about the WCA, released by DPAC.
The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is the primary assessment for Employment and Support Allowance, the main social security payment for disabled people and those with a long term health condition. In this documentary advocates, lawyers and claimants outline the fundamental problems with the WCA, and the adverse effects it can have on claimants. They show how the WCA not only fails disabled people, but fails on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) terms; it can worsen people’s health and does not help them return to work. The WCA is carried out by private companies (initially Atos now Maximus). Although some assessments can be carried out smoothly and professionally, others are in buildings that do not have disabled access, require people in pain to sit for hours on hard chairs, and are carried out by assessors who can be rude, and even cruel.
We would like to thank everyone who volunteered their time to talk about the WCA. Some people have requested anonymity, therefore we have either a) used their voice only or b) got actors to record what they said (a lot of claimants are scared of the DWP).
It can be viewed on youtube:
and is available for viewing and download on Vimeo
Readers of this site will remember that a couple of weeks ago, I posted questions about people’s right to record and film face-to-face assessments as they go through the work capability assessments that are to be run by Maximus.
Needless to say, the entire exercise was a complete waste of time. You’ll see below that the responses give us five-eighths of fuck all as far as concrete information, timelines and/or actual process detail is concerned. No surprise there, of course – but I thought I’d post the responses anyway, because I think there is merit in highlighting the PR guff and detail-free twattery that Maximus has decided to specialise in when it comes to this contract. There’s also a dismissive aspect to a lot of the language, which you might find illuminating – a sort of “we’ll do things at our pace and you lot can wait” – air which nettled me badly. It should get on your nerves, too.
This sort of thing, for example:
“Change cannot occur overnight”
“[We] will take forward this and other ideas to the Department for their consideration”
“I am unable to comment on such speculation,” when I raised a perfectly valid point about Maximus’ view of the future of the ESA Support Group.
Sue Marsh actually got in touch with me after the press office did to say that I could speak with her, because my questions “come under her job,” but that attempt at overture got right up my nose, as well. For one thing – if Sue Marsh is the person who is best placed to answer questions in the sort of details required, then the Maximus press office should go to her for those answers before responding to whoever asked them. It’s not my job to sweep together Maximus’ various outputs on its own assessment processes as and when those outputs drop out of different holes, or to wait around for the responses that Maximus feels it has best finessed. For another thing – I can’t see myself responding well to any aspect of the many-pronged charm offensive that Maximus has launched in its sorry and very costly attempt to sculpt and polish the WCA turd. Let’s face it – any company that comes out with a phrase like “more touch, more communication,” apparently in all seriousness, should not be encouraged to contribute further to any dialogue on any topic, or to remain involved in any process where people require something better than bullshit. It’s my view that in a general sense, any company that speaks lines like “more touch, more communication,” needs a smack in the soft parts right there.
Here are the sorts of responses you get if you ask Maximus questions about recording face-to-face assessments, or about support for people with mental health conditions as they go through WCAs, or whether or not Maximus would bid for contracts to “provide” work-focused activity for people in the ESA support groupif people in SG are ever pushed into such activity. I just want to give you a feel for the sort of Jog On contempt that those who ask for actual details about processes are treated with.
Opening response from Maximus:
“We are firmly focussed on managing a stable transition for next week. Naturally when we are up and running we will want to introduce innovative changes to the customer experience but they have to be done with DWP consent and change cannot occur overnight.”
Well – that’s a Fuck Off if I ever heard one (and I’ve heard plenty of them). I think it’s the “Naturally” that makes me want to punch the screen when I re-read that effort. May I say that I’ve had enough of the phrase “Customer experience” as well. People who must go through the work capability assessment are not “customers.” They’re not wafting around a pick and mix display, or selecting iphones from a catalogue. They’re sick and disabled people who must endure an outsourced assessment process at the hands of voracious private companies that are in turn hired by governments which are absolutely intent on selling the idea that everyone on a benefit is a scrounger. There’s no customer choice or shopping around going on here. The government is the customer – not the people who the assessment process is inflicted on.
Ho hum. Here are the questions and answers, then. Short and not particularly sweet, etc:
Recording face-to-face assessments:
“Re: the recording and filming of WCA face-to-face assessments. Will Maximus permit the audio recording and filming of WCA face-to-face assessments? If so, how will assessment recordings operate? Will people be able to record and film their assessments using their own recorders and cameras? This is an important point for people going through WCAs – without a recorded file of their assessment, there is little transparency of the face to face aspect of the process in particular. The DWP and Atos were challenged by lawyers on this point and forced to change protocol.”
“In respect of recordings we are studying this and will take forward this and other ideas to the Department for their consideration. We agree there are merits to this change, but there are other considerations as well, including the potential for the customer to be potentially constrained because some people are shy when being recorded. We want to ensure customers feel as comfortable through this process as possible, so all of these factors must be considered.”
Right. As it happens, a simple Yes or No would have sufficed here. Maximus could instruct its assessors that from of the start of the contract, people can record and film their assessments on their own recording gear if they want to, or bring someone along to do that (as I’ve said before, I’ll do it anyway. The hell with it). When Atos was in charge of this shambles, people had to ask for a change of appointment until they could get one with an assessor who was prepared to be recorded and where the dual recorders that Atos and the DWP insisted on were available. As for “the potential for the customer to be potentially constrained because some people are shy when being recorded” – I would have thought the answer to that one was simple. People – sorry, “Customers” – don’t have to record their assessments if they don’t want their assessments recorded. Naturally.
I can’t believe we’re still talking about this after all these years. Surely there is a limit to the number of times that the DWP and its providers can arse about on this subject? I’m also unclear on the basics here. Can people still ask for a recording to be made on official equipment? Does Maximus have enough equipment to meet demand?
Next up was:
My question: assessments for mental health claimants:
I asked: “What protocols and guidance will Maximus have in place for assessments for people with mental health conditions? Atos came in for considerable criticism regarding its failure to accurately assess ESA claimants with mental health conditions. Could we discuss the structures that Maximus will have in place and the training that assessors who conduct assessments for mental health claimants will have?”
“With regard to assessing claimants with MH conditions we have established a Customer Representative Group with MH charities on this. One of the group activities will be to review training materials so that they better reflect MH issues. We are also review the use and numbers of MH champions in the business as well as employing OTs who often have extensive experience at supporting people with MH issues in work and life.”
You can understand why I found this underwhelming – ie barely worth reading. I suppose that I was hoping for something a little more robust and detailed than plans for reviews, and more chat and roundtables with, presumably, the usual charities. I wrote extensively on Atos’ evasiveness on the work and effectiveness of these so-called Mental Function Champions (and found at the time that Atos didn’t report to the DWP on the performance or otherwise of those “champions.”) Just a little history on the sorts of shenanigans you can get on this topic: In 2012, Mark Hoban told parliament that “we have introduced a mental health champion in every single assessment centre throughout the country.” Actually, he hadn’t. The DWP told me that 60 mental function champions were in place and that they largely worked a phone advice line. A group of us had to work for months to get Atos and the DWP to agree to a meeting about the WCA and these “champions” with charity workers from a couple of small, independent mental health charities – ie the kind of organisations that weren’t generally invited to roundtables or to share their views on the DWP and Atos with the DWP and Atos. The whole thing was a total pile and to this day I speak with people who have mental health conditions and talk about suicide when discussing their next WCA. Why people can’t simply be assessed by their own GPs and support teams is beyond me (and that goes for all sick and disabled people who need benefits. The WCA isn’t required at all – unless, of course, your aim is to push the idea that work for all is great and that people who receive benefits shouldn’t).
The company simply said that it was unable to comment on such speculation.
To which I say – Bollocks. I asked a perfectly legitimate question about Maximus’ view of the future of the Support Group. As Benefits and Work explains: “the ESA support group is for claimants who the DWP consider to have such severe health problems that there is no current prospect of their being able to undertake work or work-related activities.” So. Either Maximus respects the idea of the integrity of a support group which exists for people who are exempt from work and work-focused activity, or it doesn’t. If it does respect that idea, it won’t consider bidding for any future contracts for work-focused activity for people in the Support Group, if that is a line that the government decides to pursue. Which the government will. It already has. The DWP already sends letters to people in the support group asking them to attended work-focused interviews. Simple as that really.
Anyway – that’s Maximus. Not a lot of joy there. Perhaps I will try putting these questions to them again during next week’s day of #scrapWCA action. Details of activities here.
So finally released is the official news that Maximus take over from the toxic brand of Atos for £500 million. Already there are comparisons with Russell Crow characters, but there’s also an overlooked Maximus who might be more fitting as a parody or comparison. This Maximus comes from the U.S Marvel comics
Maximus was briefly the leader of the Inhumans while his brother, Black Bolt, went into exile, daring not to use his dangerous voice. Maximus believed that the Inhumans were the greater form of life on Earth and he set out to rule them and to destroy humankind to retake the planet.
More on Marvel.com: http://marvel.com/universe/Maximus#ixzz3Hd6bb9Bl
Leader of the inhumans seems much more fitting than the hero reduced to slavery and seeking revenge- can we compare Black Bolt to Atos going into exile too? No, not really, as Maximus are using Atos staff and equipment to continue with the inhuman Work Capability Assessments (WCA), and of course Atos have a whole host of other multi-million Government contracts including PIP-yet another planned disaster, shared with Capita, leaving disabled people stuck on a waiting list for up to a year without any financial support whatsoever. In June 2014 MacMillan identified that those diagnosed with cancer were waiting at least six months for the initial assessment rather than being fast tracked properly, as was the case under the Disability living Allowance.
We can be sure that this didn’t and doesn’t just apply to those with cancer,but those with other terminal illness’ too. The Work and Pensions Committee rightly condemned this, but then we hear nothing more than empty silence. New Labour say it will take 42 years to clear the PIP backlog. But they don’t tell us what they will do about it, which with an election year fast approaching is yet another lost opportunity for the rusty New Labour machinery.
From one toxic brand to another?
Its worth a quick recap on Atos and the WCA contracts. The Atos process contributed to deaths, the Atos process contributed to worsening mental health, Atos’ so called ‘healthcare professionals were ‘trained’ over a period of days, Atos got reports wrong frequently, Atos were subject to TV exposures, the Atos process was condemned internationally, Atos were closely linked Unum insurance sharing the same CEO, Atos declared people fit for work when they were in comas or days before they died. Atos pulled out of their contract saying that those nasty disabled people were being nasty to their staff- a claim which , true to form, they could provide no evidence for.
Atos became a toxic brand long before the hyped ‘pull-out’. Atos were targeted from 2011 onwards by DPAC with protests outside their shiny London headquarters and elsewhere. Atos tried to shut down web sites that said ‘bad’ things about them. In 2012 their sponsorship of the Olympic games ( along with a set of other dubious multi-nationals) led to a 7 day protest by DPAC, a protest that saw angry protesters outside Atos centres across the UK. It was then that national media, often silenced by their owners vested interests broke through. We saw from the first time a trickle of freelancers with a social conscience edge in the Atos issue under the Olympics rubric. We saw the beginnings of a snow ball affect which Atos’ public image never recovered from. Atos were known not as the IT company, but the company that carried out those bogus Work Capability Assessments.
From bad to worse
So what changes with Maximus? First let Maximus be in no doubt that they will get the same treatment as Atos did-disabled people will continue protest and civil disobedience- a name change doesn’t mean a thing. This company knew exactly what they were taking on-but money talks louder than conscience . As already mentioned Maximus take the infrastructure of Atos, its staff , its IT , its tick box assessments. Atos are still gaining. Second, Maximus take private contracts ( paid with public money) to help dismantle what’s left of our ( or anyone else’s) welfare state to force those ‘that can’ on to private insurance scams that may or may not pay out-Unum and co are also laughing all the way to their bankster friends. .
What’s different? Well, Maximus seem worse than Atos- yes you read that correctly. They have a string of law suits in their homeland the good old US of A. In 2014 they said
“We expect that demand for our core health and human services offerings will continue to increase over the next few years, driven by new legislation, austerity measures and increasing caseloads, as governments strive to deliver more services with fewer resources. Legislation, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the United States as well as other health and welfare reform initiatives abroad, has created increased demand for our services, a trend we expect to continue over the next several years.”
‘Core health and human services offerings’:?. It seems these ‘offerings’ have proved a bit of an expensive minefield. But these days such things are written off to risk if the profits out weigh the pay-offs companies will do what the hell they like. In 2007 Maximus settled a Medicaide card fraud with the Federal Government paying $30.5 million. In 2012 they paid $50,000 in a disability discrimination case. In 2013 it was reported that Maximus has been engaging in ‘improper billing advice’ concerning $3.5 million cost to tax payers (sounds familiar-except here our state dont appear to do much about such things).There’s more, but you get the picture. Final add is that Maximus also like to give lots of money to right wing politicians-ah it gets even clearer.
Looks like we should expect the worst and looks like our unelected Government have managed to surpass themselves, again. The drain on the so-called public purse- that’s tax payers money- is set to rocket again. But beyond financial concerns are what happens now with the WCA? What happens to the backlog? And what happens to disabled people- the news doesn’t look good, as many commentators on social media have already pointed out. However, several things have been missed on social media
All in it together?
While Disability Rights UK (DRUK) were one of the first to get the notice of Maximus taking over from Atos out on their website, they failed to mention how they will be ‘helping’ Maximus. This information is not on their web site. It can be found elsewhere on the Department of Work and Pensions website :
“On top of recruiting additional healthcare professionals, MAXIMUS also plans to make further improvements to people’s experience of an assessment and will seek to continually improve the service they offer. It will increase the number of specialists who conduct assessments, including experts in mental health. They will also spend more time with people before their assessment to fully explain the process and provide Disability Awareness training for all staff through Disability Rights UK”.
Didn’t Atos claim similar things too? There are some who might say DRUK is what is needed. We should ask those people how a so-called user-led disabled peoples’ organisation can, with any integrity, involve themselves in this at all. Its no secret that like Maximus themselves, DRUK would know about the WCA, the Government lies that surround it, the misery caused by it, and why it all chimes together to remove welfare/state support from disabled people-It marks a purposeful intention to further open -up the market for private insurers – is this a mistake on the DWP’s own Government site?
Sadly, we think not. In the latest release DRUK say that they’ve been in discussions with Maximus and no work has yet been agreed- shouldn’t they be categorically denying the association outright?
Yet, DRUK are already ‘in bed’ with big corporations and private insurance companies. After their prior foray with Capita, DRUK now appear to have joined the game of pushing private disability insurance too. They are partnering with 17 big insurance companies to show the difference insurance would make, instead of fighting for the rights of disabled people. That is disabled people who by DRUK’s own admission occupy one of the largest groups in poverty, a poverty level that has been systematically widened and worsened because of this Government’s pursuit of removing welfare.
A few months ago DRUK publicised a new television program calling for disabled volunteers: Seven Families. Seven families will take the same number of families and show the benefits of purchasing private disability insurance. Its not about pushing products says the Income Protection Task Force (?) blurb-its about raising awareness-not since the Guardian published the much criticised info ads for Unum have we seen this sort of ‘stupid public’ approach. Once again , you wont find this on the DRUK web-site it’s been removed. But DRUK’s strap-line of breaking the link between poverty and disability just took on a new meaning
More importantly, under the WCA contract Atos were paid per assessment. Under the PIP contract Atos and Capita are paid a lump sum not depending on the number of assessments- the planned backlog becomes clearer. But what of the Maximus contract -are they paid by assessment or paid a lump sum? What is obvious is that the rounds of assessments and reassessments will continue to persecute disabled people. At intervals they might get a pittance of support, they might need to wait longer for a mandatory reconsideration ( brought in in Oct 2013 to make the process even more difficult and knock people out of the system). The best bet is to forget that you’ve paid state national insurance for all of your working life and go see Unum- and if 99% of disabled people cant afford it tough, because even your own so called disability organisations are telling you this is now the only way.
We want answers and we call on New Labour’s Rachael Reeves and Kate Green to provide them-what will they do with Maximus? What will they do with mandatory reconsideration? What will they do for disabled people? Oh and why should we a) trust them b) vote for them?
For now as The Void suggests: ‘Maximus are the new Atos: destroy Maximus’ and everyone and every organisation involved in or supporting this inhuman regime of the corrupt WCA, until its scrapped completely!
Twice over the past quarter it has been publicly announced by 2 different ministers that the huge reduction in the appeal intake was due to more accurate ESA decisions, first by Mike Penning, the Minister for Disabled People on the Daily Politics Show on April the 13th and then bySteve Webb, the Minister of State for Pensions, during the debate about DWP chaos. It is essential to put the record straight as DWP continues taking credit for what it describes as an improvement of the WCA process, leading to more disabled people being entitled to ESA. Far from being improved, the WCA process has become unmanageable and is described by Judge Martin, the recently retired President of the Social Entitlement Chamber, dealing with benefits tribunals, as being in a state of virtual collapse. This state of virtual collapse has led to the publishing of astonishing figures.
In July 2013, DWP started to express concerns about the quality of Atos written reports. All Atos healthcare professionals were to be retrained and re-evaluated.
The consequences seem to have been a reduction by half in the number of assessments completed by Atos, from 200,000 per month to 100,000.
HMCTS (Tribunals) was informed that the effect was likely to be a reduction of 9,500 appeals per month from September to December 2013.
In January 2014, DWP stopped making ‘repeat referrals’ to Atos. From what Judge Martin is saying, there is anecdotal evidence that an increasing proportion of ESA claimants, both on new claims and IB-ESA reassessments, were simply being assigned to the Support Group without a face to face assessment.
Judge Martin’s conclusions that the ‘virtual collapse of the WCA process is the biggest single factor in the decline of the appeals intake’ is therefore supported by the evidence:
A reduction by half in the number of assessments
More claimants assigned to the Support Group without a face to face assessment.
Repeat assessments being paused
These 3 factors combined would have drastically reduced the number of assessments and therefore the number of likely appeals, especially with more claimants assigned to the Support Group who would not have a decision to appeal against. Additionally the introduction of Mandatory Reconsiderations will have had an impact, but compared with the other factors, it appears to be marginal, although at this stage the impact is unknown.
To add to the picture of the virtual collapse of the WCA, there is now a backlog of 712,000 claimants waiting to be assessed. The waiting times reported by CAB are regularlybetween six and eight months.Although the UK government is blaming the backlog on the previous government,the figures do not support this as shown by Nick Dilworth in his excellent blog. From the figures available, it can be calculated that the total number of cases which were subject to assessment but had not been assessed (the backlog) as of May 2010 was 28,300.
Far from being an improved system, the WCA process has descended into chaos. Although more claimants are entitled to ESA and are being assigned to the Support Group, the notion that it is an independent process which can be replicated anywhere and produce consistent results is undermined by the level of influence applied by DWP, whose intervention seems to bypass the descriptors which are enshrined in law, if more claimants are assigned to the Support Group for reasons of convenience.
Employment Support Allowance Sanction Decisions, by Month
even though referrals to the programme have fallen from 41,360 in the second year of the work programme to 20,300 in the third year for new ESA customers.
Referrals, Attachments, Job Outcome payments and Sustainment payments for the new ESA customer
This massive increase cannot therefore be explained by an increase of referrals to the work programme or a sudden surge in the number of claimants in the WRAG. As seen previously, because the number of claimants assigned to the Support Group has massively increased, the number of claimants assigned to the WRAG has consequently decreased by the same proportion. The implication is, in the absence of additional data from DWP, that sanctions are being exceedingly applied to an ever decreasing number of claimants. And 9 out of 10 ESA or JSA claimants who appeal the decision have their decision overturned by a tribunal according to the ‘Fulfilling potential? ESA and the fate of the work-related activity group report released by Mind.
Interestingly enough, the National Audit Office published today (2nd of July 2014)its report on the work programme. Among its findings: Performance for harder-to-help groups is still below expectations and
about the same as previous programmes, but the Department expects further improvements.
To spell it out more clearly, the Work Programme is not performing better than previous programmes but it is driving more claimants into destitution by sanctioning them. Incompetence, complacency and total obliviousness to the consequences will be the DWP’s legacy of this government.
by Anita Bellows
This text can be viewed and downloaded as a research paper from here
DWP ministers said only 9% of ESA decisions were wrong. Our research reveals the DWP have been quoting from figures which state 151,800 appeals have succeeded. Our evidence shows the true figure to beat least567,634 – casting serious doubt over 43% of 1,302,200 ‘fit for work’ decisions.
ilegal Press Release – 16th June 2013
DWP’s internal figures reveal a much higher number of successful ESA appeals than have been made publicly available.
A DWP reply on 13 June 2014 to a Freedom of Information Act request made as part of an investigation in to DWP figures relating to the controversial Work Capability Assessment by ilegal.org.uk has revealed that of 1,287,323 ESA appeals, at least 567,634 claimants have had the original DWP decision overturned in their favour.
It is with considerable disappointment noted that the DWP’s latest publicly available statistics confirm that only 151,800 successful appeals have been recorded out of a total of 410,400 appeals (for new claimants only). Our investigations reveal evidence of three times as many appeals being ‘internally recorded’ of which
567,634 have been successful. The DWP have revealed to us figures which show nearly quarter of a million internal reconsiderations have led to decisions on new ESA claims being overturned in favour of the claimant; we have added these to figures from HMCTS tribunals which provides us with a much higher figure than the DWP seems to be prepared to admit to in their publicly available figures.
Our intensive research into the assessment of claimants for the DWP’s Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) has, following a freedom of information request to the DWP, provided one of the final pieces of the jigsaw needed to unpick the Department’s overly complicated statistics. We now have the final clue which has enabled us to identify that no less than 567,634 ESA claimants have in fact had their initial ESA refusals overturned in their favour.
It is a startling revelation that the government department has apparently been keeping a lid on a set of statistics that clearly shows between May 2010 and June 2013 no less than 820,356 decisions were looked at again by the DWP after claimants had been assessed by the controversial private contractors Atos Healthcare. These ‘internal’ statistics show that a very substantial 232,782 (28.5%) decisions were then subsequently overturned in the claimant’s favour.
What makes this all the worse is that these reconsideration statistics come on top of separate figures that show us that of those claimants who did not have the decisions overturned in their favour by the DWP, 817,102 went on to appeal to tribunals arranged by Her Majesties’ Courts & Tribunals Service where a further 332,607 were then overturned in the claimant’s favour by the tribunal.
These figures completely negate all of the DWP’s claims that it is getting the majority of its decisions right
These new figures highlight the dubious practice of using the unchallenged assessment results, which only encourage media sensationalisation, with headlines such as those appearing in the Daily Express in July 2011 stating that ‘75% on sickness benefits were faking’. The same article goes on to say that out of ‘…2.6 million on the sick, 1.9 million could work’ before receiving an endorsement from the Prime Minister with an assurance that his government was “producing a much better system where we put people through their paces and say that if you can work, you should work”.
DWP and Ministers know the truth, they just aren’t telling anyone
We question then why the DWP has consistently ‘over promoted’ only the results of Work Capability Assessments relating to ‘initial’ decisions (including the opinions of Atos Healthcare in the absence of a statutory DWP decision) when it could instead have come clean and declared how hundreds of thousands of their incorrect decisions have since been overturned in favour of the person appealing.
These revelations seriously undermine the DWP’s contention that the initial Work Capability Assessment outcomes are a valid measure of the claimant’s ability to work. The DWP has consistently defended its assessments by giving an impression that only a relatively low number of decisions have been overturned whereas the reality is that well over half a million have resulted in a successful outcome for the claimant.
And this DOES NOT include the 712,000 people awaiting assessments BEFORE they can appeal
This news must have come as cause for grave concern when considered in the light of a recent revelation by DWP Minister Mike Penning which revealed that in addition to the figures we have highlighted, a further 712,000 Employment & Support Allowance claimants are awaiting assessments without which they cannot yet appeal.
This hugely unacceptable backlog of cases means people with disabling medical conditions are left hanging for months and months on a basic allowance way below what they are entitled to. This is leaving hundreds of thousands deprived of the support they require and means having to scrape by on money which is wholly insufficient to meet their needs due to disability and illness. It also means many claimants affected by severe and complex mental health conditions are facing prolonged torment as they wait month upon month for their decision to be overturned before they can even lodge an appeal.
Face up to reality: it doesn’t work. Scrap the WCA
These findings add considerably to the pleas of disabled groups all over the country to scrap the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and to find a better way to assess their needs.
It is simply appalling that the DWP, along with Ministers and other government spokespeople appear to be feeding the media with misleading statistics that are unrepresentative of the real story and instead encourage headlines vilifying the disabled and the genuinely ill. These figures clearly show the DWP has evidence in their possession which shows how in far too many cases the decisions it is making are dead wrong and they know they’re dead wrong.
Please contact the author of this article Nick Dilworth for verification of any of the figures quoted. We welcome sharing our findings on social media and allow this information to be produced providing credit is given to the
i-legal website with links to the article produced.
We apologise for the slight delay in publishing this release. This was due to a need to align the figures to ones recently produced by the DWP in their Work Capability Assessment figures released on the 12th June 2014 which relate to the most recent statistics up to September 2013.
A full supporting explanatory memorandum will be published very shortly.
The Reconsideration statistics relate to new ESA claimants only (excluding incapacity benefit to ESA conversion cases) whereas HMCTS figures refer to all ESA claimants. It is our contention that had the DWP supplied all of the information we had requested, the figures for reconsiderations would have been considerably higher.
We acknowledge that not all appeals will be against fit for work findings for new claimants but given the DWP’s emphasis on this claimant cohort and the lack of information to the contrary we are of the contention that other appeals relating to claimants being moved from the Work Related Activity Group to Support Group are likely to be of a much lower volume and more likely to be contained within the cohort relating to incapacity benefit/ESA assessment.
We would like to express our thanks to Anita Bellows an i-legal member for her cooperation and for making the freedom of information request upon our guidance and our thanks extend to the DPAC organisation with whom Anita is also a member.
I’m at rock bottom right now and unable to go through writing it again. I have an appointment to see my MP tomorrow. I have copied and pasted an email I sent to his secretary earlier today. Dear Mary, I was going to write a brief summary of the main issues I’m facing right now and send them to you to save some time tomorrow, but it looks like all my benefits have just been stopped. I was due a DLA payment yesterday (Thursday 27th March) but it’s not been paid into my bank account. I signed on at the Job Centre in Stevenage on Tuesday, but the staff (My Adviser/Coach) doubt that I’m fit for work and think I should be on ESA.
I’ve done everything they’ve asked, searched for work everyday, applied for Jobs, even worked on a business plan to start my own business from home, I don’t know what more I could have done. DWP arranged an appointment for me with PLUSS a few weeks ago and after going there I felt quite optimistic, but when I went to sign on following that, their feedback was that they couldn’t help me because my health problems are too severe. I went to DAS (Depression and Anxiety Service) on 16th March, they can’t help with my Mental Health problems because they are too severe and complex.
Unless I say “I’m going to kill myself” I can’t get any help because local Mental resources are too underfunded and their caseload is too big. I DO NOT WANT TO GO INTO HOSPITAL and I would be extremely uncooperative if I was forced!!! Do you think this is Fair or Just??? What am I supposed to do??? My health problems are hard enough to deal with, without all this!!! I went from mid July last year up until a few weeks ago with nothing other than my £40 a week DLA to live on. I had £500 savings and a good credit rating before then, and a £950 overdraft which I never used until I lost my ESA at Tribunal. I got a statement from my bank this afternoon, I’m £921.12 overdrawn with an available balance of £6.20 (I don’t know how they do their maths?) I have £96 of overdraft charges being taken out of my account on 1st of April. I had come to an arrangement with housing people to pay back the outstanding rent arrears I owed when I started to receive JSA a few weeks ago and had promised a payment of £70 by tomorrow (28th March). DNRS have already tried to send the Bailiffs to my flat to take possessions for outstanding council tax arrears.
I’ve been to CAB numerous times recently. If this is how my life is going to be then what’s the point??? I can’t sleep at night because I’m so stressed out all the time, my health mental and physical are getting worse by the day. Everybody I’ve seen, my Job Centre Coach, CAB, My COPD Nurse and the Doctor I last saw (Dr Roper), PLUSS, DAS and my family ALL SAY I SHOULD BE ON ESA. I have an appointment tomorrow morning with my GP. I need immediate help, no more forms, no more appointments, NO MORE BULLSHIT!!! I refuse to live like this any longer, I can’t take anymore of the daily stress and injustice!!! I SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN IN THIS SITUATION FROM THE START!!! I’ve always been a fighter, I’ve had to survive but I’m totally exhausted now, mentally and physically… I HAVE TAKEN AS MUCH AS I CAN –
My appointment with my MP went well. I was already so angry to begin with made sure I made the most of my 15 minutes. I had written my main issues before hand so that I did not forget anything. To be fair I came away feeling he had listened to me and understood my situation. I was fluent in my arguments and never had any denial from him that what this government are doing to the most vulnerable people in this country is totally wrong. Since then I have applied for ESA again, all done over the phone this time, with help from my local CAB. My MP has also liaised with my GP so that I get to see the same doctor each time.
I have been to my local surgery twice since my meeting and the way I have been treated is 100% better. DWP asked me to get a letter from my GP to inform them of how many hours a week I was capable of working while claiming JSA. My COPD and mental health conditions have worsened considerably over the past few months and my GP signed me off sick saying in his opinion I wasn’t well enough to work, hence the claim for ESA. It’s like a merry go round and so frustrating and stressful it just makes my health and life in general suffer as a result. I stated strongly to my MP that I should never have been in this situation, and far from what Iain Duncan Smith claims to be doing. that he is helping people. My MP agreed.
I am due to receive my first ESA payment this coming Tuesday and looking forward to being able to eat properly again.
If I could give any advice to someone in a situation like mine it would be to get mad, make yourself heard with the right people. I am a fighter but fighting battles everyday to survive is tiring and wears you down. It either that or give in, I wasn’t prepared to give in with the injustices I had to face and wasn’t going to go without a fight.
Update: I received a letter this week from the DWP saying they were investigating my case. We will see what comes of it. I am still angry because of all the debt all this has got me into just trying to survive.
I will never forgive nor forget what this government has done to me and tens of thousands of others.
This is an edited version of a set of emails received by DPAC- all names and places have been changed and the author has given DPAC permission to use this to publicise the inhumane situations many are finding themselves in under the Condem regime
Tribunal – Law Courts, Cathays Park, Cardiff, April 23, 2014 at 10am
Incapacity benefits – deaths of claimants
A tribunal will decide whether the Department for Work and Pensions
should be ordered to release its statistics on the number of people who
have died while claiming Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support
Allowance, at a hearing next week.
The First-Tier Tribunal (formerly the Information Tribunal) will be
hearing an appeal by Vox Political blogger Mike Sivier, against a
decision by the Information Commissioner and the DWP to refuse a Freedom
of Information request on the subject.”
We read with interest the piece in the Independent by Rachel Reeves and Kate Green regarding Labour’s response to the Work Capability Assessment 
Labour should realise that disabled people are deeply distrustful of any Labour reform of a Work Capability Assessment system, which Labour introduced in the Welfare Act of 2007 with the stated aim of removing 1 million claimants from the benefit system .
Our position has been and will be that the Work Capability Assessment is deeply flawed in its basic concept, not just in terms of the details of its delivery, and inclusion in the workplace for disabled people cannot simply be achieved by a ‘back to work’ test.
In the Reclaiming Our Futures, Disabled People’s Manifesto , we state that a priority demand from government is that:
A comprehensive and strategic plan of action is developed with disabled people and our organisations to tackle the discrimination and exclusion disabled people face in work and employment including: increasing quality and range of personalised support available to disabled people, strengthening disabled employees rights and tackling employer discrimination and poor practice
Other key demands include that:
Economic productivity must not be the only measure of people’s worth and value, volunteering offers as much value to society as paid employment. While we recognise that volunteering can offer additional skills, it should not be the default option for disabled people because of our exclusion from paid work
There must be policy and media recognition that there will always be disabled people who are unable or too ill to work. These individuals must be supported by a publically funded system. They should not be penalised or demonised as they are currently.
For true inclusion in the workplace for disabled people a wider approach is necessary including but not limited to:
• Will Labour commit to the restoration of Disabled Student’s Allowance,
• Will Labour commit to the restoration of the Independent Living Fund,
• Will Labour commit to the extension of Access to Work (AtW) to include unpaid voluntary positions,
• Will Labour commit to the reversal of the reduction of people who currently receive DLA, but will not receive PIP and also lose their Motability access,
• Will Labour commit to the reinstatement of the requirement for councils to produce equality schemes on employment and access
• Will Labour commit to the provision of accessible transport.
• Will Labour commit to the reinstatement of “day one” protection from unfair dismissal in employment law
• Will Labour commit to the provision of Employment Tribunals enforcing mandatory organisation-wide measures on preventing disability discrimination
• Will Labour commit to the provision that all government contracts, at a national, regional and local level, are only awarded to companies that are fulfilling measurable equality targets for the employment of disabled people
(for further points see reference 2)
These currently are some of the barriers to inclusion in the workplace for disabled people, and they will not be fixed by simply amending the WCA. The issue must be seen within the context of the wider interconnected system of barriers in place. It must be seen in terms of what a large majority of disabled people have already identified as key problems.
In terms of inclusion we also need from Labour, a recognition that for many disabled people to be able to work there has to be a nationally transportable social care system with a guarantee that people would keep the same levels of funding wherever they needed to move to work.
We need recognition that there is an onus on government and employers to fully accept the spirit of the Equality Act 2010  with its requirement to the opening of work opportunity to disabled people. Without this, no “fit for work test” aimed at cutting disability benefits will make any impact whatsoever on the numbers of disabled people who can attain and sustain employment.
We also need from Labour a stronger recognition that there are many disabled people who cannot enter the work place and should not have to live in fear of being pressured into doing so.
There is much that the article leaves out and that leaves us with a number of serious concerns and questions.
While we are not yet prepared to endorse in any way Labour’s new approach to the Work Capability Assessment, we do see the article by Rachel Reeves and Kate Green as a helpful starting point for discussions on the future of inclusion of disabled people, who want and are able to work, in the workplace and we would welcome an opportunity to meet with them and discuss this further. We would like meet with Kate Green and Rachel Reeves to ask the following questions:
1. Will Labour commit to stop spending public money on private
contractors and return any assessments of disabled people back to GPs
with medical evidence taken into account as well as give a commitment to
look at the barriers to work for disabled people who can and want to
work (in line with the social model of disability)?
2. Will Labour commit to a time and date to talk with DPAC, My Legal,
the Mental Health Resistance Network, Black Triangle, Deaf activists,
those with learning difficulties ( with an outreach of ½ a million
disabled people) to listen to the views of the largest network of grass
roots disabled people on the WCA and ESA?
3. If Labour are committed to scrapping the WCA when will Deaf and
disabled people, and those with mental health issues have sight of the
detail of any alternative Labour is proposing?
4. If Labour accepts the harm, devastation and premature deaths that have
been an outcome of the WCA why have they chosen to suspend their
prospective parliamentary candidate for St Austell and Newquay, Deborah
Hopkins for speaking out in public about the harm caused by the WCA.
5. Will Labour address the disproportionate harm that the WCA and
sanctions on ESA and JSA are causing to all disabled people, in
particular those with mental health issues and learning difficulties?
6. We along with many others insisted that a centralised Independent Living Fund
for Scotland be established and it has been done. They have also promised to re-open ILF to new users, with a commitment of additional funds and recognition of its importance to independent living and obligations to article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Why has the Labour
Party not promised to re-establish it south of the border?
Many of the Statements included in this response are taken from the UK Disabled Peoples’ Reclaiming our Futures Manifesto and are endorsed by a UK network of disabled people and Deaf and Disabled Peoples Organisations, including: ALLFIE, Inclusion London, Equal Lives, DPAC, Inclusion Scotland, Disability Wales and the TUC Disabled Workers Committee , who between them reach several million disabled voters. References
1. How Labour would reform the Work Capability Assessment http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/how-labour-would-reform-the-work-capability-assessment-9265479.html
2. The Reclaiming Our Futures, Disabled People’s Manifesto http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/UK-Disabled-People-s-Manifesto-Reclaiming-Our-Futures.pdf
3. The Green Paper: The new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work. 2006 http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://dwp.gov.uk/docs/a-new-deal-for-welfare-empowering-people-to-work-full-document.pdf
4. Equality Act 2010 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents
We are very much looking forward to seeing everyone who can come to our national conference on Saturday but it is also important that those of you who can’t get there in person are able to take part. There are a number of ways you can do this:
Send messages of support and your ideas for what DPAC should focus on over the next year to email@example.com or @dis_ppl_protest.These will be put up on the graffiti wall at the conference and included in the notes from the day.
We’ve had a great response to bookings for the DPAC conference on Sat 12th April in London, but places are now running out. Please email:firstname.lastname@example.org
with your details, number of places needed and any access needs.
12th April 2014 – 11am until 5pm
London Met University, Tower Building, 166 – 220 Holloway Road, London, N7 8DP
Since we started in October 2010 Disabled People Against Cuts has been at the forefront of the fight against austerity. With Atos on the run, and the bedroom tax on the ropes we are seeing the results of hard campaigning. But there is much more to do to ensure disabled people’s rights to live independently and with an adequate income.
The national conference is a chance for DPAC members to come together, to share experiences and discuss your ideas for moving forwards.
DPAC are working hard to bring to conference a surprise guest, a person who, if anyone has, has been the catalyst for the re-emergence of disability activism in the last few years, someone DPAC has enjoyed a close relationship with from visiting him at home to donating underpants to supporting his select committee appearances.
Workshops will look at: – Where Now for the Independent Living Fund campaign, – Developing a Social Model of Distress, – Winning the Argument, – Disability, Art and Protest, – Building a National Network of Disabled People’s Organisations and Direct Action practical skills among others.
Please note places are limited so priority will be given to DPAC members. For information about joining please contact email@example.com
The venue is wheelchair accessible. BSL and a note taker will be provided. For access information go to: http://www.disabledgo.com/access-guide/islington-council/london-metropolitan-university-tower-building
For access queries including booking parking please contact DPACfightback@yahoo.co.uk
To book places or for more information please contact DPACfightback@yahoo.co.uk
We are pleased that the DPAC research team’s submission to the Work and Pensions Committee has been accepted and published. We especially want to thank Anita Bellows and Bob Ellard for all their hard work on this.
Great to see submissions from our sister organisation Black Triangle, our allies, Inclusion London, WoW, Nick and Carer Watch.
We are disappointed that no formal national organisation of disabled people claiming to be run and organised by disabled people based in England appears to have submitted any text on this important issue.
We reproduce DPAC’s submission below for ease of reading
Written evidence submitted by Disabled People against Cuts (WCA0152)
Who we are:
DPAC is a grass roots campaign body. It was formed by a group of disabled people after the first mass protest against the austerity cuts and their impact on disabled people held on the 3rd October in Birmingham 2010, England. It was led by disabled people under the name of The Disabled Peoples’ Protest. DPAC has over 12,000 members and supporters and works with many anti-cuts groups, Universities, Disabled Peoples’ Organizations, and Unions
1.This document contains the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) submission to the Work and Pensions Committee call for evidence on ESA and WCA dated 21/3/14
2.This submission contains a number of areas of ESA and WCA that we believe demonstrate why the ESA system is fundamentally flawed both in concept and implementation and should be scrapped with immediate effect.
3.All of the statistical claims made in this document have links provided to verifiable sources
4.The WCA descriptors are the criteria used to assess whether a claimant has limited capability for work, in other words whether a claimant falls within the eligibility criteria for claiming ESA, or not.
5.The descriptors define a set of functions related to work tasks, which, if the claimant can perform to an adequate standard, the claimant is considered able to perform some paid work and therefore not eligible to receive the ESA Benefit.
6.However we believe that the criteria for ESA eligibility are disingenuous. They take into account only functional ability, NOT the ability to hold down a job in practical terms.
7.They do not consider such issues as:
·Is the claimant able to work for suitable number of hours a week
·Is the claimant able to travel a reasonable distance to and from a job, consistently, every day.
·Is the claimant robust enough to hold down a job, without taking an unreasonable amount of sick leave
·The cumulative effects of physical stress on claimants with physical health conditions which induce fatigue symptons
·The cumulative effects of mental/emotional stress on claimants with mental health conditions
·The physical/emotional/mental stress of seeking a job
8.Nor does it consider what physical discomfort or pain, or emotional or mental pain the claimant may encounter while employed.
9.The WCA does not represent a finding on whether or not the claimant is employable or whether the claimant will be able to find work.
The ‘Gap’ between ESA and JSA Criteria
10.While the WCA is commonly called a “fit for work” test, it does not actually test whether a claimant is fit for (ie capable of doing) work.
11.The WCA tests whether claimants have the ability to perform certain limited work related functions as defined by the WCA Descriptors
12.Whereas the criteria for eligibility for the alternative benefit Jobseekers Allowance include the clauses that a claimant must be:
·be able and available for work
·be actively seeking work
13.Thus is stands to reason that there are many who will be found ineligible for ESA but not able to meet the practical requirements being able to find and hold down a job and are thus ineligible for both benefits.
14.We do not know how many claimants have found themselves in this position, as the government do not monitor this, and provide no statistics from which we can exptrapolate or estimate a number, but we believe that there will be a significant number of Disabled claimants who fall into this trap and are denied income from either ESA or JSA .
Health Care Professionals performing the WCA
15.The majority of Healthcare Professionals that perform Work Capability Assessments on claimants are Nurses, Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists, with a lesser number of Doctors and “Mental Function Champions”
16.While we do not dispute that these Health Care Professionals are qualified and have experience as Nurses, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, etc, we do dispute that this is sufficent to judge a persons’ capability to work, given the panopoly of condition types that any Healthcare professional will be required to assess.
17.The range of condition types that an HCP will be presented with include:
·Stable Physical Conditions
·Fluctuating Physical Conditions
·Mental Health Conditions (ranging from mild to extremely severe)
·Autism Spectrum Disorders
·Physical Conditions where the claimant is expected to return to full health
18.In addition it is not uncommon for claimants to simultaneously have multiple condition types such as a mental and physical health condition.
WCA and mental health
19.From the start, the descriptors were recognised as inadequate at capturing the level and the complexity of mental illnesses, and the problems faced by claimants in making a claim or an appeal were already recognised by Judge Martin in his 2008-2009 Report:
20.‘Mental health issues are a continuing source of problems in terms of making claims and assessing the impact of mental health issues on disability. In some cases mental health issues were not fully addressed or given due weight’.
21.Following Professor Harrington’s recommendations, DWP accepted to amend the descriptors to better capture mental health issues and to introduce Atos Mental Function Champions in each assessment Centre to ‘spread best practice amongst Atos healthcare professionals in mental, intellectual and cognitive. Although it has led to an increase of claimants with mental health issues being awarded ESA, and especially being placed in the Support Group, the statistics tell a different story.
23.By the end of the November 2012 quarter, the number of claimants taking up or being transferred on to Employment & Support Allowance had spiralled to 316,950 claims with nearly 140,000 of them (135,990) making a claim on the grounds of mental and behavioural problems – nearly 3 times as many as four years previously, but also representing a higher proportion in the total number of claims (44% against 37%).
24.In the November 2012 quarter, 25,950 of the claimants who took up a claim ESA on mental health grounds had been on the allowance on one or more previous occasions. These figures show a perpetual cycle of claimants and reclaiming, those with mental health problems being by far the most susceptible to making a re-claim.
ESA claimants with mental illness are disproportionally sanctioned
26.The total number of ESA claimants is 834,500 (WRAG 467,400 + SG 367,100), of which 339,200 (WRAG 193,100 + SG 146,100) of them fall under the Category ‘Mental and behavioural disorders’. It means that this group of claimants accounts for 40% of all illnesses, but because 193,100 (57%) have been placed in the WRAG, proportionally, this group is already more exposed to sanctions than any other groups.
27.A recent response to a FOI request confirms that claimants with mental health issues are not only sanctioned disproportionally, but also exposed twice to more sanctions and hit harder than any other groups.
28.Even before the introduction of the stricter sanction regime, there were already a higher number of claimants with mental health issues being sanctioned. But the latest figures disclosed show that 5,940 claimants with mental health issues were sanctioned out of 10,210 ESA sanctioned claimants (58%) in 2013.
29.The figure in 2012 was 54% when these claimants only account for 40% of all illnesses. Since October 2011, on average the rate of sanctions for claimants with mental and behavioural conditions has been exactly one third (33%) higher than for other claimants, as the graph shows.
30.This is a trend, for which the Citizens Advice Bureau had already provided anecdoctal evidence,
32.This has to be seen in the context of the number of people with mental health issues placed onto the Work Programme. The latest Work Programme statistics (20th March 2014) show that this group constitutes the majority of ESA claimants on the Work Programme (65%), although as noted previously they account for only 40% of illnesses.
33.Not only are a disproportionate number being placed in the WRAG, but an additional disproportionate number are being put onto the Work Programme, compared with ESA claimants with other illnesses or disabilities. The job outcomes for this group, as shown by the latest statistics, are very poor: only 4,2% of the 131,480 claimants referred to the programme in this group have a job outcome.
34.Not only is the WCA failing people with mental health issues by putting a disproportionate number of them in the WRAG on a shorter prognosis, and a disproportionate number of them onto the Work Programme, resulting in very poor job outcomes, but it also seems that because of the nature of their illnesses, they are the claimants having most difficulty adhering to the conditionality regime, or that they are seen by Job Centre staff as easy targets for sanctions as documented by the CAB, leading to a disproportionate number of them being sanctioned when compared to other ESA claimants.
35.Ultimately, they would be the very people whose health is likely to worsen as a result of the failings of the WCA and of the consequences of having been put into the WRAG.
36.The latest figures published by Her Majesties’ Courts & Tribunals Service in March 2014 show a dramatic reduction in the number of Social Security & Child Support appeals lodged directly with Tribunals. This is the result of the introduction of ‘Mandatory Reconsiderations’ which is a DWP internal dispute resolution process, aimed at reducing the number of appeals directly lodged with Tribunals.
37.These Mandatory Reconsiderations have had a substantial effect on the number of appeals lodged against an ESA decision. Only 32,969 ESA appeals were received between October and December 2013 compared with 111,817 in the first quarter of 2013/2014 and 76,456 in the second quarter.
38.The number of ESA appeals ‘cleared at hearings’ in the third quarter of 2013/14 has significantly increased with 83,202 being heard, of which 45% were in the claimant’s favour. This is the highest success rate for claimants ever recorded. This compares with 58,276 in the same quarter of 2012/2013 when the success rate was 42%. The overall number of cleared ESA Tribunal hearings in 2012/2013 was 224,375 with an average success rate of 43%.
39.The drastic reduction in the number of appeals lodged directly with Tribunals makes it even more urgent for the government to publish statistics on the number of ESA decisions which have been overturned in claimants’favour through mandatory reconsiderations.
40.Benefit claimants are the only group to be denied direct access to a Tribunal and therefore to Justice, although the fees introduced for Employment Tribunals also had the effect of substantially reducing the number of claims
42.Clause 15 of Part 2 of Schedule 1 of this Act excludes all welfare benefit issues.
43.Welfare benefit cases no longer qualify for advice or assistance under the Legal Help scheme, not even for initial advice to identify justiciable issues under social security law, or to provide a triage role to steer cases away from tribunal and ensure that benefit claims are processed correctly.
44.The Government’s view is that as these are matters of ‘administrative justice’ issues in which decision making, adjudication and dispute resolution systems are accessible to claimants acting on their own, and that given the underlying issues are financial, they should be of minimal priority for public funding.
45.The government also says that legal aid is:
46.“still available for civil legal services provided in relation to an appeal on a point of law to the Upper Tribunal, the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court relating to a benefit, allowance, payment, credit or pension” (Point 157)
47.But as Judge Robert Martin points out in his response to the Ministry of Justice Consultation Paper on Legal Aid (page 8, paragraph 40):
48.‘An appeal against the tribunal’s decision in a welfare benefits case lies to the Upper Tribunal but only for error of law ….. These limitations of further “appeal” are often not appreciated by parties without Legal Help, who may fruitlessly seek to appeal further simply because dissatisfied with the outcome’
49.Although the government says that claimants can represent themselves, at a time when the UK’s social security system faces arguably the biggest upheaval since the introduction of the Welfare State, the Government should have recognised that the need for advice on welfare benefits has never been greater.
50.It should also have recognised the complexity of the benefit changes affecting disabled people.
51.Disabled people make up a disproportionate proportion of 58 per cent of those who receive legal aid for welfare benefits cases.
53.“the proposals have the potential to disproportionately affect female clients, BAME clients, and ill or disabled people, when compared with the population. This is as a result of those groups being overrepresented as users of civil legal aid services’.
54.The removal of Legal Aid for benefit claimants needs to be seen in the context of cuts to legal aid funding with £320m cut from the annual £2bn legal aid budget and the closures of 100 of Citizen Advice Bureau offices which used to support the most people with access to legal advice and representation.
55.According to the government’s own assessment, around 600,000 people will lose access to advice and legal representation, when CAB advisers estimate the success rate at ESA appeal where someone receives specialist CAB advice and is represented is around 80 per cent.
WCA Mandatory Reconsideration
56.In October 2013, DWP has introduced changes to the appeals system; a claimant wishing to appeal a fit for work decision will no longer be able to submit their appeal to DWP, which would lodge the appeal with HMCTS (tribunals) on behalf of the claimant.
59.As admitted in the government response, there are no timescale for completion of the Mandatory Reconsideration process, as shown in the response to this Freedom of Information Request.
60.If someone’s claim has been disallowed completely, they will not receive payment pending Mandatory Reconsideration as was the case previously when somebody was allowed to appeal the same decision. DWP is suggesting that claimants should claim other benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, but there is evidence that some people are being refused JSA on the basis that they cannot, because of health issues fulfill all the conditions attached to this benefit.
62.There is absolutely no indication or evidence that the UK government has taken any steps whatsover to reduce the stress or anxiety inherent in the Work Capability Assessment for benefit claimants.
63.The WCA is inherently stressful for claimants, because of the uncertainty of such a notoriously unreliable system where there are frequent media reports of incorrect decisions. Claimants are forced to wait long durations trapped in a bureaucracy that shows no compassion, not knowing if they will be judged “fit for work” and required to seek work, whether or not their medical condition makes that possible.
64.Claimants are understandably fearful that their benefits will be stopped, at the end of a process that they have no control over.
65.This is particularly harmful to claimants with Mental Health Conditions, especially those in the class of anxiety disorders as described in DSM-IV .
It strikes me that not enough mention is being made of the important victory in the Court of Appeal in the case of  EWCA Civ 1565 Case No: C3/2013/1626/SSTRF IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION) ON APPEAL FROM THE UPPER TRIBUNAL ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS CHAMBER) Mr Justice Charles sitting with Upper Tribunal Judges Jacobs and Lane Case Nos. JR/2638 & 2639/2012 CO/2385/2012.
You can download the judgement here and read about what it means here. I also consider that an important investigation called ‘Who benefits?’ in to the ‘The benefits assessment and death of Ms DE’ by Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland which you can refer to here has a relevance to the tragic consequences of what can go wrong if the right decision is not made for lack of obtaining the right evidence.
It is of paramount importance that anyone with mental health problems who is facing having to complete an ESA50 or who has had a decision which the DWP say does not qualify them for Employment & Support Allowance (particularly if it involves a transfer from older incapacity benefits) seeks specialist help from an experienced welfare benefit specialist.
Regrettably we cannot deal with cases on an individual basis on this forum, but if you have a question about the procedure then by all means ask one on this thread and I’ll do my best to answer it in due course.
An important part of the Court’s finding is the recognition of the following:
“Decision-makers should actively consider the need to seek further documentary evidence in every claimant’s case. The final decision must be justified where this is not sought.”
“41. Given the unique circumstances of their condition, particular care should be taken when the claimant has a mental, intellectual or cognitive condition as these individuals may lack insight into the effects of their condition on their day-to-day functioning.”
The drastic consequences of not seeking further medical evidence are clearly outlined in the report in to the death of a claimant allegedly affected by the Work Capability Assessment.
Fundamentally the Court of Appeal recognised the many instances where claimants may not disclose details of a mental health problem to the DWP or their contracted healthcare professional of their own accord. The difficulties are summarised in the judgement as follows:
31. From that detailed evidence, the Upper Tribunal identified the following particular problems which MHPs as a group face, whilst recognising that the extent to which any particular MHP will suffer from these problems will vary.
“(i) In terms of filling out a form, seeking additional evidence and answering questions, claimants with [mental
health problems] as a class have the following problems and difficulties because of their [mental health problems],
some of which overlap:
a) insufficient appreciation of their condition to answer questions on the ESA50 correctly without help,
b) failure to self-report because of lack of insight into their condition,
c) inability to self-report because of difficulties with social interaction and expression,
d) inability to self-report because they are confused by their symptoms,
e) inability because of their condition to describe its effects properly,
f) difficulty in concentrating and in understanding the questions asked,
g) unwillingness to self-report because of shame or fear of discrimination,
h) failure to understand the need for additional evidence because of cognitive difficulties,
i) problems with self-motivation because of anxiety and depression which may prevent them approaching professionals for help and assistance,
j) false expectation that conditions will be understood without them needing additional help, and
k) lack of understanding that professionals named in the form will not automatically be contacted in the assessment process.
ii) in terms of further aspects of the process for the determination of their entitlement to ESA, claimants with
MHPs as a class have or have to face the following problems and difficulties because of their MHPs:
a) particular conditions (e.g. agoraphobia and panic attacks and autism spectrum disorder) make attending and/or travelling to a face-to-face assessment difficult,
b) finding the process itself intimidating and stressful, and, in some cases, that having a long-lasting negative effect on their condition,
c) a desire to understate conditions,
d) the masking of health problems as physical problems,
e) dealing with assessors who have little or no experience of mental health problems,
f) the difficulties of identifying many symptoms of a condition and its impact on what a person needs without proper training and knowledge,
g) the lack of time during a short assessment to identify a person’s needs,
h) fluctuation in condition, and
i) scepticism about the condition.”
32. It is important to note that these problems fall into two categories, although they overlap. Some of these difficulties go to the adverse experience which might be felt because of what, from the vantage point of some MHPs, will be perceived to be stressful, embarrassing or confusing features of the process, in particular the completion of the questionnaire and the face to face interview. Other difficulties lead to the decision maker having inadequate or even false information about the nature and extent of the illness thereby increasing the risk that a false functional assessment will be made which in turn may jeopardise the right to an ESA. I will call these “adverse experiences” and “outcome effects” respectively.
Whilst the judgement places an emphasis on the DWP seeking further medical evidence in mental health cases, the reality is that in many cases the DWP fails to do so. In the investigative report in to the death to which I have referred it appears for instance that the claimant’s doctor was not contacted and asked to complete what is called an ESA 113 report.
There is nothing to prevent a claimant when completing the ESA 50, especially when assisted by someone, to point out that they specifically want the DWP to obtain further medical evidence from their own doctor or clinicians. A claimant could for instance write something along the following lines:
“I have severe mental health problems and find it impossible to describe them in this form. Please ensure that you contact my doctor (or other named clinician) and ask them for full details of my mental health problems. I believe this is necessary to make a proper decision on my claim.”
In long term claims it may also be relevant to state:
“You already hold details of my long term mental health problems and I am asking you to make sure these are made fully available to the decision – maker who is looking at my claim. I believe these details to be very relevant to getting the full picture and vital to a correct decision being made.”
In Incapacity Benefit cases where you have been asked to undergo an assessment for Employment & Support Allowance, the following may be relevant (most claims have now now been ‘migrated’ according to the DWP).
When you receive the ESA 50, make an appointment to speak with your doctor either by phone or at the surgery. This is particularly important where you have not seen your doctor for some time. Tell your doctor you are being reassessed and ask for a review of the time since you were last seen by the doctor. This allows you to update your doctor and tell him or her of any problems you have faced since you were last seen, it also means the doctor is better equipped to comment if the DWP contacts them. It also makes it possible for you to bring matters to the attention of your doctor over which they may be unaware. You could for instance talk to them about declining levels of social confidence and any fears you have about meeting people or facing certain situations.
The reason this is important is because in incapacity benefit to ESA cases, no medical certificate is required at the commencement of the ‘conversion phase’. You only need a medical certificate if the DWP assesses you and finds you fit for work and you want to appeal. The rules are different to new claims for ESA where medical certificates are required at the very start of your claim in the ‘assessment phase’. In migration cases the ‘prompt’ to speak with your doctor about a certificate only arises once you have already been assessed.
Claimants who have been refused ESA in cases where mental health was relevant (even if the DWP did not know of this) and no attempt was made to obtain further medical evidence by the DWP should consider an appeal.
See below for a template covering letter citing case law that ‘obliges Decision Makers to take into account the relevance of a claimant’s existing DLA award when considering a Work Capability Assessment’
We write on behalf of the above-named person. His authorisation to correspond is attached.
We helped M.. complete the enclosed ESA50 form.
He gets highest rate care of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) because of his many care needs. He is also, for obvious reasons, in receipt of the higher rate mobility component of DLA. While we are aware that DLA has a different focus to ESA, case law (JW v SSWP (ESA)  UKUT 256 (AAC)CE/2894/2011)obliges Decision Makers to take into account the relevance of a claimant’s existing DLA award when considering a Work Capability Assessment—there may be sufficient “common ground” for one to provide material evidence in respect of the other.
We are concerned that there would be substantial risk to M….s’ health if he were found not to have Limited Capability for Work (Regulation 29 ESA Regs.) or if he were found not to have Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity (Regulation 35 ESA Regs.). And given the level of care he requires, we cannot see what reasonable adjustments any prospective employer or JCPlus Claimant Adviser could put in place to lessen that risk.
In light of the above, we would ask that M….. be placed in the Support Group of ESA without having to undergo a Work Capability Assessment.
The use of these regs by doctors and welfare advisors has also been part of a long campaign by our sister group Black Triangle Campaign.
Attached is a piece of case law saying that a physiotherapist opinions re a claimant with mental health problems has “no probative value whatsoever”.The reference is at paragraph 22.
This case law is very useful to include in ESA applications and WCA appeals so please pass to any Welfare Benefits advocacy/advisors or use yourself.
This information has been proven to contribute to a high success rate re ESA/WCA
We’ve stopped asking for basic humanity from you. We’ve stopped asking for fairness -it all falls by the wayside. You don’t care. Now we ask for logic …………well John does, but he is not alone, he is supported by DPAC and thousands of disabled people and those with long-term health issues. We hear that you ATOS/OH Assist want to pull out of the WCA, but want to keep the PIP contract despite a serious backlog and people being left for up to a year without any cash to support them. We all look forward to the day when these barbaric tests are scrapped, if you want to blame the DWP, fine, but several millions in public money paid to you suggests you also have something to do with it all too. By the way this message must not be construed as a death threat to your staff in any way- It’s a plea for logic, any kind of bloody logic, as feelings are clearly not your strong point or those of the DWP.
Below is the email DPAC received from John. John also emailed other disability charities, so I am sure they will be publishing something too unless they’re too tied up in Government funds to say a word, of course.
Below the copy of the email is a piece on the illogical questionnaire that is sent out to everyone having to endure this abuse by ATOS/OH Assist/DWP , or any future private company out to make a few million at the expense of peoples’ lives.
Please do not think that this is an attempt to influence my own case in any way or enlist support – although the latter would certainly be welcome (head gets sore from banging against Atos’ brick walled- ignorance). As I am sure you are aware, there is a tendency for those of us unfortunate enough to be disabled – seriously or otherwise – to become isolated. I believe that it is important that we raise awareness and share information even on individual cases – hence this e-mail.
I am aware of many people who have suffered and still are suffering at the hands of Atos & the DWP, but I thought that you might like to hear of my experiences – and I have yet to even have a Work Capability Assessment!
I was first called to attend an assessment on 17th June 2013 and could not believe the asinine ‘questionnaire’! For Pete’s sake: “Do you have trouble remaining conscious while awake?’!!!; Picking up and moving things: What ‘things’? How heavy? What shape? If cardboard, is it standard or thick cardboard? Move them from where to where?. How large is a ‘large’ cardboard box? Does the claimant move by hand, or does s/he use aids? Is there anything in the damn box? Those are just two examples.
In addition to other disabilities, I cannot write for more than a minute or two without my hand painfully ‘cramping up’ and my writing becoming illegible. Therefore, I intended to make notes in the only way open to me – using a voice recorder. Atos – despite agreeing to record the assessment, denied this and refused to proceed with the assessment. Given that anything I dictated would also be recorded on their equipment, this is not only illogical, but blatantly discriminatory. Also, at the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, it suggests that the equipment will – shock! horror! fail, particularly should it show Atos in a bad light (see e.g. https://dpac.uk.net/2012/07/having-your-wca-recorded/ and http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/dec/13/disabled-man-government-court-benefit-test).
Neither Atos or the DWP could legally prevent a more able-bodied person or their escort/carer from making notes by hand, so the decision is, therefore, discriminatory and unlawful. It should not be necessary – as with the recent court decision on Mental health & WCA – to resort to litigation in order to obtain that which one has a right to in any case.
Despite being advised from the outset that my disabilities result in fatigue and the need to sleep by early afternoon, I was sent appointments that disregarded this and it was necessary each time to write to them demanding a new, more suitable appointment.
I have another appointment for 21st March 2014, although I expect the same things to occur and that Atos will again unlawfully refuse to proceed with the assessment. I have since been met with nothing but malice, discrimination, general illegality and just plain incompetence by the Atos parasites, whose default position seems to be: if in doubt – lie (more on this below) having, apparently, learned their craft at the knee of Josef Goebbels.
When I addressed their ‘response’ to my complaints, the person who supposedly ‘investigated’ them was conveniently (for them) absent and I was passed to another individual whose further investigation was so thorough that it took less than two weeks and not only re-stated Atos/DWP’s unlawful discrimination vis-à-vis my note-taking, but also completely failed to mention at all the lies told by:
a)The Atos receptionist who reported that I stated that I would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights. This was yet another case of Atos shooting itself in the foot as I am a former law lecturer, assisting in a research capacity on a couple of human rights cases and am quite aware that a claimant must first exhaust domestic remedies. In fact, I stated that I was prepared to make a formal complaint to the Commission for Equality & Human Rights.
b)The lies told by the person who (supposedly) first investigated my complaints. Namely that disabled parking was available on the street immediately outside the assessment centre. This was a blatant lie and I provided photographic proof of this. In fact, not only does there not appear to be any disabled parking available in the building’s car park that I could see, but there is no disabled parking available within at least a hundred yards of the building! This person had also related – in respect to my complaint “when you entered the assessment room” when I never left the reception area until I left the building!
I have provided Jobcentre Plus/DWP with copies of correspondence at every stage and yet they have not even had the common courtesy to acknowledge the correspondence, let alone respond. I have also made a formal complaint to the Equalities Office – who have also failed to acknowledge or respond.
I am in the process of submitting evidence to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee. Will they listen? Doubtful, but we live in hope. My MP has also been completely useless on this – in fact that isn’t surprising given that he’s a Lib-Dem and therefore part of this odious coalition.
I have attached for your information my response to Atos’ ‘investigation’ of my complaints and my initial assessment of the questionnaire. I apologise for the occasionally facetious tone of the latter, but I simply could not believe that they were prepared to use such a blatantly incompetent document as the basis from which to destroy so many lives.
Title of the form
Poorly chosen – or perhaps deliberately chosen? By definition, except for the minority of frauds –Incapacity Payment Benefit claimants are incapable of work.
Personal details: Unnecessary. After all, they sent me the damn form and, therefore, already have this information
They knew I was male and that I could not, therefore, be pregnant!
The idiocy of asking anyone, let alone someone extremely poor health to nominate dates in the next THREE MONTHS when they are unavailable is plain.
Help needed for face-to-face assessment: How is a claimant to answer this adequately –even if sufficient space were provided on the form – without knowing where the assessment is to take place?
Apart from the fact that it is NONE of their damn business, how, exactly, does the date of a claimant’s last GP visit relate to or affect in any way, their capability – or otherwise –for work?
The names and details of any specialist care professionals are relevant only if they are prepared to call the claimant a liar or a fraud, which would possibly create liability for both the decision-maker and Atos/the DWP in defamation.
The date of the claimant’s last visit to such a professional is also none of their damn business and may be irrelevant in any case. A claimant may not have seen a particular consultant in more than a year. This does not mean, however, that their condition has miraculously disappeared. Other specialists/consultants may have only been visited once after referral from other professionals and in order to either aid diagnosis or to eliminate possible causative factors.
About your illness or disabilities
This is such an openly-worded question as to be largely useless. The space provided for response is also inadequate for those with multiple and/or variable conditions to respond adequately.
About your medication
Eavesdropping in any pharmacy will reveal that a great many people do not even know the names of the drugs they take – merely the quantity and the time they are to be taken. I continue to take a different ant-histamine, which frequently causes drowsiness/tiredness over and above that caused by my various conditions.
Drugs, alcohol or other substances
This could be seen as an attempt to re-write the Disability Discrimination Act by stealth, given that some relevant conditions under this heading can be considered disabilities. It may also be seen as a deceptive attempt to induce a claimant to inadvertently admit that their inability to work is of their own making and thereby deny their claim. Either case is despicable.
Part 1: Physical functions
Part of this may be seen as a ‘trick’ question. As many claimants for Incapacity Benefit also claim Disability Living Allowance, this can be seen as a deliberately deceptive attempt to induce the claimant to give different answers to claims for each benefit.
3. Reaching: Inadequate space to answer the question properly. This criteria is variable and will depend on the state of variable conditions at any given time.
4. Picking up and moving things: This question is worded, apparently, by a six-year-old. What ‘things’? How heavy? What shape? Is it standard or thick cardboard? Move them from where to where?. How ‘large’ is a ‘large’ cardboard box? Does the claimant move by hand, or does s/he use aids?
5. Manual dexterity: Another poorly-worded question with proposed tasks apparently selected (!) at random from an episode of Mr. Bean. Most people rarely read a traditional book now, preferring an electronic version. As regards picking up a £1 coin, I would probably not attempt do so, but scoop it from the surface with one hand into the other.
6. Communicating with people: Communicate how? Semaphore, Morse code? Martian?
7. Other people communicating with you: Yet another poorly-worded question. What if the person attempting communication with the claimant has an unfamiliar accent? What if the other person is a poor communicator? The same applies to simple (printed) messages from other people.
8. Getting around safely: Define ‘safely’. What road? A dual carriageway? A single track road? A one-way street? How does a claimant know whether they can get around an unfamiliar place without knowing what the place is?
9. Controlling your bowels and bladder and using a collecting device: A piggy bank could be classified as a ‘collecting device’!
10. Staying conscious when awake: Another idiotic question! By definition, if one is conscious, one is awake.
11. Learning how to do tasks: How can a claimant truthfully and reliably answer this question without knowing what task? One may have no difficulty in learning how to remove an engine’s cylinder head, although physically doing so may be impossible. However, learning to programmecomputer code may be beyond them. The form asks about setting an alarm clock, but what sort?
The mechanical sort with two bells on top, or that contained on my mobile ‘phone? What if one had a different mobile ‘phone on which key operation was more difficult?
13. Starting and finishing tasks: What tasks? Under what conditions? For example, someone who possesses a dishwasher would find it far easier to complete the washing up than someone with only a bowl and sink. Starting and finishing any task may be dependent on the effect various and variable medical conditions on a given day.
14. Coping with changes: What changes? What constitutes a ‘small’ change? A claimant may be able to cope with a small change in one aspect of their life but not another. For example, a claimant with a hospital appointment may have re-organised their schedule and arranged transport to cope with the appointment but should the taxi not arrive or the appointment be changed at short notice, some may be stoic, regarding it as a small change while others may react extremely angrily, regarding it as a major disruption in their routine. The same applies equally to the second part of this question (unexpected changes). A ‘small’ change – whether expected or not – can be a major disruption in the life of a disabled person.
15. Going out: This is essentially the same question as question 8 ‘Getting around safely’.
16. Coping with social situations: This question is completely asinine. What constitutes a ‘social situation’? The qualification of the question is inadequate. To some, this may be visiting family, while to others it may be a family wedding/christening/funeral or an evening at the pub!
17. Behaving appropriately: Yet another extremely poorly-worded question. Firstly, how would it affect a claimant’s capability for work? And what work? In what situation? What is appropriate to one person may be extremely objectionable to another. Furthermore, unless someone speaks out, how would the claimant know that their behaviour upsets other people? The same applies to the second part of the question.
18. Eating and drinking: How on earth does this question – in ANY way – relate to a claimant’s ability to work. I doubt there are many vacancies for wine-tasters, or cookery competition judges
In an urgent memo obtained by Benefits and Work, the DWP have told staff that due to a growing backlog at Atos all current employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants will be left on the benefit, without further medical checks, until another company can be found to do repeat work capability assessments (WCAs). The memo, dated 20 January, goes on to say that this will reduce the number of claimants moving off ESA, but that there are no plans to inform claimants or MPs about the change.
Benefits and Work obtained the memo from the DWP via a Freedom of Information request. It is headed: ‘FOR URGENT CASCADE. Control of the Referral of Repeat work Capability Assessments’.
The memo explains that back in July a ministerial statement announced that:
“in the drive to continually improve the Work Capability Assessment process and bring down waiting times for claimants, DWP had decided to seek additional capacity to deliver Work Capability Assessments.
“We are working towards having new provision in place – it will of course take some time for that to become fully operational.”
However, the memo goes on to explain that:
“The number of cases currently with Atos Healthcare has grown. A decision has therefore been taken to control the referral of repeat work capability assessments. Therefore, with effect from 20 January 2014, further routine repeat assessments referrals to Atos will be deferred until further notice.
“Controlling the volume of repeat Work Capability Assessments should help us to reduce delays for new claimants and those that have already been referred.”
The memo goes on to say that staff must still refer claimants for reassessment where there has been a reported change in condition, giving the example of a claimant placed in the Work Related Activity Group whose condition worsens and who might be expected to move into the Support Group.
Aside from this, however, reassessment of existing claimants is to end until further notice, with no new cases being referred to Atos from 20th January.
The memo is keen to point out that the decision to stop repeat assessments by Atos is not ‘linked to the quality issues outlined in July 2013’ which the DWP ‘has been working closely with Atos to resolve’. It also reassures readers that the change will have no impact on Atos’ ability to carry out personal independence payment assessments.
It does, however, admit that the result of the change is that the number of people coming off ESA each month will reduce because:
“the Work Capability Assessment is the main trigger for off-flows from the Employment and Support Allowance load. We will continue to assess the potential for alternative interventions on those whose repeat Work Capability Assessments are deferred to seek to manage this consequence.”
No details of what those ‘alternative interventions’ might be is given.
It is clear, however, that the DWP is not keen for people to be aware of the ever more disastrous state of medical assessments for benefits by Atos. The memo explains that claimants who enquire about when their next WCA will be, should only be told that:
“Although the Department will periodically review a person’s Limited Capability for Work, there is no set date for this to happen.
“The timing of this review is at the discretion of the Decision Maker acting on behalf of the Secretary of State and is influenced by the evidence available to them, which can mean on occasion longer periods between face to face assessments. “
In addition, the memo explains that as this is simply an ‘operational decision’ and not a ‘policy change’ there are no plans to notify ‘external stakeholders such as claimants, claimant representative groups, Members of Parliament, etc.’
It is hard to imagine that IDS and his fellow DWP ministers believed that they could keep this further Atos-related failure secret for long: you can’t stop reassessing thousands of claimants a week without anyone noticing. If, however, they could have kept it secret at least until they found a new company to take on the repeat assessments, it would have been easier to explain away and not added to the ever mounting pressure for a complete overhaul of the WCA.
“Yes, there was briefly a problem” IDS could have said “But we now have a new provider and it is no longer an issue.”
As it is, this news is simply further proof that the WCA is not fit for purpose, because as soon as the DWP attempts to impose proper quality controls a massive backlog results. It is, we hope, another nail in the coffin of a completely discredited system.
And, for all those claimants with static or degenerative conditions who continue to be forced to undergo repeat assessments, often followed by repeat appeals, on an annual basis, the news will come as a welcome respite.
Reposted from Benefits and Work website with thanks
I am delighted to see that Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, has written to Sheila Gilmore MP in response to her complaint to the authority over the Work Capability Assessment statistics.
This follows a great deal of intensive research in to the figures on the ilegal/mylegal forums to which Sheila Gilmore’s attention has been drawn and which she has acknowledged. Her unstinting challenge of the DWP in her role on the Parliamentary select committee over the dreaded Employment & Support Allowance along with many other increasingly alarming elements of welfare reform are to be applauded.
And here follows Dilnot’s reply, to view it all use this link…..
In my view we are only scratching the surface with a much deeper failing in these statistics which has yet to emerge. What particularly galls me is how the media as well as government and its ministers have continually based all their (mis) reporting on the back of figures which it is becoming more and more obvious were flawed from the outset. The error which emerges in this instance is one where the DWP are effectively concealing their own ‘overturns’ within a set of statistics which have been misrepresented as ones subject to ‘initial assessment’.
The effect of this is (1) to hide the true initial results and (2) to keep from the public the true number of decisions which the DWP considers to be erroneous at the initial stage.
My bigger concern is what these figures hide; the true number of claimants who have appealed. Figures from Her Majesties Tribunals, Courts and Tribunals Service confirm that over 1 million Employment & Support Allowance appeals have been lodged with Tribunals, many more will be waiting for action at the DWP and no clear figures have yet been made available making it clear as to how many internal reconsiderations by the DWP have led to Work Capability Assessment results being overturned.
DPAC support the ATOS demo on Feb 19th. Due to the use of the DPAC logo on some of the posters showing DPAC support we’ve had loads of emails about this. So just to set the record straight- DPAC are not organising the Feb 19th Demos.
We are not responsible for the 8am starts in some areas and accept that these timings will often be difficult for many disabled people. Please contact your local organisers on this, not us.
There may be DPAC speakers, there may be DPAC people at this- and why would we not be there? DPAC along with UKUncut organised the successful ATOS Games across the UK in 2012, so we’re really pleased to see a set of national and local disabled people taking this up again two years on. Big thanks go to Tom Smith and others for mobilising everyone….
The info for all demos is on Facebook along with specific pages for local demos.
There will be an inquiry into Employment and Support Allowance and the Work Capability Assessment. The committee are asking for submissions from you. DPAC will be sending a submission of the misery, destitution and deaths this process is causing. The deadline for receipt by the committee is March 21st
We ask you to take this opportunity to add to further evidence, if you would like to send experiences to DPAC to send on your behalf please email: firstname.lastname@example.org the subject line: ESA WCA inquiry
Otherwise, the details of how to send written experiences and data are copied below:
The Committee’s inquiry
In light of recent developments in this area, including the publication of a number of reviews of the WCA, expressions of concern from DWP regarding Atos’s performance in delivering the WCA, and the introduction of mandatory reconsideration, the Committee has decided to undertake an inquiry into ESA and WCAs to follow-up its 2011 report.
Submissions of no more than 3,000 words are invited from interested organisations and individuals.
The Committee is particularly interested to hear views on:
Delivery of the WCA by Atos, including steps taken to improve the claimant experience
The effectiveness of the WCA in indicating whether claimants are fit for work, especially for those claimants who have mental, progressive or fluctuating illnesses, including comparison with possible alternative models
The process and criteria for procuring new providers of the WCA
The ESA entitlement decision-making process
The reconsideration and appeals process
The impact of time-limiting contributory ESA
Outcomes for people determined fit for work or assigned to the WRAG or the Support Group
The interaction between ESA and Universal Credit implementation
Submissions do not need to address all of these points.
The deadline for submitting evidence is Friday 21 March.
How to submit your evidence
To encourage paperless working and maximise efficiency, select committees are now using a new web portal for online submission of written evidence. The web portal is available on our website.
The personal information you supply will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 for the purposes of attributing the evidence you submit and contacting you as necessary in connection with its processing.
Each submission should:
be no more than 3,000 words in length
be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible
have numbered paragraphs
If you need to send a paper copy please send it to: The Clerk, Work and Pensions Committee, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA
Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a web link to the published work should be included.
Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. It is the Committee’s decision whether or not to accept a submission as formal written evidence.
Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.
The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
As if we hadn’t had enough benefit bashing via Channel 4 with their highly dubious misrepresentation of everyone on benefits as accurately represented by the carefully selected participants of Benefit Street, it seems the BBC has joined the fray in their highly misleading (and factually wrong) headlines informing us: ‘Million sickness benefit applicants ‘fit for work’.’
I completely agree with Mike Sivier of Vox Political who accuses the “BBC of being a mouthpiece for the Tory party”, he’s wisely encouraging people to write in and complain. It’s good advice to those who are incensed by the right wing media’s continual portrayal of everyone on benefits as low life scum.
So you know what you have to do; complain in your droves!
What the BBC won’t tell you is that over 5 million of you have been subjected to the humiliating & Support Allowance regime in terms of original claims, reassessments and transfers from existing benefits. Whilst the overall claimant count hovers around 2.5 million, lightning has a nasty habit of striking more than once and thousands of you will have been repeatedly struck by the absolute chaos which surrounds the DWP’s handling of this particular benefit. So hopefully there should be no shortage of complaints to the BBC.
But before doing so, I would encourage you to get ‘clued up’ on the facts which the BBC (and no doubt the papers which will follow) make no attempt to explain, as with so many of these reports they only give you half the story (well in this case considerably less) ……
For some extraordinary reason the DWP and media have an almost obsession with ‘new claims’ for the dreaded Employment & Support Allowance. On nearly every statistical release the accent is principally on new claims, it’s not hard to understand why; they invariably provide the public with more sensationalist headlines over ‘millions being found fit for work or ‘closing their claims without an assessment’ (by the awful Atos ‘Healthcare’ who conduct the controversial examinations under £100 million contracts with the DWP).
Here’s what they don’t tell you….
Over 2.3 million cases are being left out of the BBC’s figures
leaving out claimant success rates of up to 88%.
Why leave out 88% claimant success rates?
In excess of 2.3 million incapacity benefit cases (each one yielding a result) being tested under the much stricter ‘Employment & Support Allowance’ regime and those who are ‘examined’ on a second, third or even fourth occasion are being completely left out of the figures.
Had the BBC fully reported the facts, they would have had to go in to the nasty truth which gets in the way of a good story. They could have told you all how in the six months between October 2012 and May 2013 an average of 83% of 1,078,200 incapacity claimants were passing their assessments and 88% of those 1,332,300 ‘repeatedly assessed’ were re-qualifying for the allowance.
But the Beeb buried the good news.
Instead they chose to home in only new claimants who score a lower ‘pass’ rate at what the DWP incorrectly cite as an ‘initial’ assessment’. The BBC cites an average of 32% of ‘new applicants’ being found ‘fit for work’ between 2008 and 2013. I’m not sure where the BBC get the figure from as it’s more correctly an average of 46% for new claimants being found ‘fit for work’ with 54% qualifying for the allowance following assessment. The figure rises to 60% when we look at the last six months to May 2013, I’ll come back to my reservations over these figures later on in this thread.
The BBC headlines are meaningless unless considered with the context of all the available facts. It just looks like more of the same propaganda aimed at making us think people are coming off benefits and back in the work market.
Why doesn’t the BBC challenge the bigger picture?
Don’t they possess a calculator?
Let me show you what everyone out there seems to be missing, you’ll need to follow something which sadly seems too challenging for the BBC….
The BBC article tells us that very close to 2 million people have come off the sick either as a result of being found ‘fit for work’ or ‘closing their claims before being assessed’. The clear intention of the BBC is to infer 2 million people should not have been claiming the sick and should instead be in the labour market, meaning either looking for work or in work.
The DWP tables for October 2008 to May 2013 tells us that the figure for ALL claimants found fit for work is in fact
1,453,400 and the numbers closing their claims amounts to 1,298,400 making a grand total of……
2,751,800 allegedly ready for labour market
Why didn’t the BBC give us the figure for ALL claimants?
I’d suggest; because they knew it would open up a can of worms for a government which they continually support with misleading articles when it comes to reporting on those ‘on the sick’.
Given that the above figures relate to the entire time the ESA assessment programme has been running (since 2008) it is is necessary to align the ESA figures with the time the Coalition has been in power. This enables us to analyse how many (of ALL ESA claimants) have been found either ‘fit for work’ or who have ‘closed their claims before assessment’ since May 2010 to May 2013. The latest DWP figures available is (it will be even higher now):
1,856,100 allegedly ready for labour market
This infers that the Coalition has found 1.85 million claimants ready and able to enter the labour market. Claimants in this position would generally claim Jobseeker’s Allowance or attempt to find work, (some will however neither claim or work). When it comes to work bear in mind that the Coalition claim to have found ‘1 million extra jobs’, it’s not enough to give everyone seemingly ‘coming off the sick’ a position in employment – it’s 856,100 short.
But remember, it’s NOT just the sick who are looking for work, we also need to consider other working age groups as others will potentially have to position themselves towards the labour market after coming off working age benefits, we also need to consider how many of our 1.85 million may perhaps claim another working age benefit. The way we do is to check the DWP cumulative figures for ALL working age benefits and make a comparison between May 2010 and May 2013.
This is replicated copy and paste of a DWP table:
Now let’s look at the difference within the same working age benefits by comparing 2010 against 2013….
& 2013 >
These revealing figures show how the claimant count has risen or fallen in terms of actual claimant numbers recorded by the DWP unlike the ONS figures who collate the data using a ‘labour market survey’.
That’s how the ONS can provide more up to date figures than the DWP, the DWP work at a much slower pace and can only count claimants up to May 2013. None the less the DWP claimant count is the one which most accurately informs us how many claimants are within the DWP system.
What we can see from these figures is this:
The numbers on JSA has actually increased by 17,000
The numbers on incapacity / ESA has fallen by 156,630
There are 179,420 fewer lone parents
93,410 more people are carers
Other income based claims are down by 44,400
The DWP aren’t too clear over their definition of ‘disabled’ within the claimant count
And finally, Bereavement claims are down by 6,040
The total reduction in ALL the main working age claims is 206,340 under the Coalition
Remember these are the actual claimant count figures derived from the DWP and therefore hard for anyone to refute, they are designated a reliable National statistic and are not based on surveys but on an actual measure of those claiming benefits.
So what conclusions can we draw
From the facts since May 2010?
Well, despite what the BBC tell you about nearly 2 million being identified as ready to hit the labour markets, the reality is they have under-quoted the overall figure, it’s actually 1,856,100 found either ‘fit for work’ or having ‘closed their claims before assessment’. There’s no way 1.8 million claimants have somehow magically disappeared from the incapacity claim count (including ESA) because the DWP’s own figures confirm the overall numbers have only reduced by 156,630 since May 2010; it’s all there in black and white.
The BBC have failed to look at whether the numbers being found fit for work or closing their claims has materially made any difference to the claimant count; in short there is very little impact upon the overall numbers of claimants.
The Government’s claims to have found ‘1 million extra jobs’ are pretty meaningless too.
A Daily Telegraph article uncovered a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in Jan 2010 revealed that 1.31 million people were made redundant during the pre-2010 recession. The DWP were processing an astonishing 6.2 million fresh claims for jobseeker’s allowance between April 2008 and November 2009. It highlights how the claimant count is far from a static number, each month thousands of claimants come on and off all benefits. The Telegraph article reveals that on Jobseeker’s Allowance alone in December 2009 ” over 350,000 – left unemployment benefit in a single month.”
What the BBC fails to address in their meaningless drivel over 1 million being found ‘fit for work’ and a further 1 million closing their claim before assessment is what happens to these claimants afterwards.
We also have, according to Thomson Reuters a 1.1 million increase in the population aged 16 and over , what few people realise is that when the number of people in the labour market increases, exactly the same number of unemployed will result in a reduction in the unemployment level simply because it’s a smaller percentage of a bigger number. There are all kinds of factors which factor in to an increase in the working age population, not least that fewer people can afford to retire as well as changes in the age at which people can retire.
So there you have it, the BBC headlines are very much a ‘non story’ without all the peripheral facts which they so conveniently omit to mention.
In my next post, I’ll explain what closing a claim without an assessment really means, I’ll then go on and explain why the DWP’s latest work assessment figures continued to be riddled with flaws.
As a grassroots campaign group DPAC wouldn’t exist without the dedication of all those who give their time to exposing what is happening: coming out on the streets, writing reports, researching, writing web content and policy critiques, heading up and being part of the growing number of local DPACs, organising events, engaging with social media and a whole set of other stuff that keeps DPAC vibrant, active and strong – its thanks to you that DPAC exists. DPAC also want to thank the growing number of grassroots groups, individuals, academics, supporters, unions and organisations we’ve worked with in 2013.
2013 began with DPAC being awarded campaign of the year for our work in 2012 the year ends with DPAC being named as ‘people of the year’ by Owen Jones. In 2013 DPAC supported many local based protests on transport, the bedroom tax, ILF, local authority cuts and privatisation. We blocked roads protested against fuel poverty, fracking, the loss of legal aid, the bedroom tax, the closure of ILF and more. We set up Reclaiming our Futures 7 days of action joined by hundreds to celebrate the gains of the disabled peoples’ movement and to protest at the effects of imposed austerity on disabled people. DPAC launched the UK Disabled Peoples’ Manifesto which was followed by an EDM.We also published a number of reports.
There was cause to celebrate: the Government were ruled to have made the decision to close the Independent Living Fund unlawfully. Mental Health Resistance network succeeded in winning both case and appeal by the Government on the discrimination of the WCA. DPAC were approached by the UN prior to Raquel Rolnik’s UK visit to feed-in –her findings on the bedroom tax were devastating for the Government. DPAC led a whole range of events and join events on benefit justice to join together and fight the evils that this Government have imposed. While every protest, every campaign, every new network and every exposure of this Government is a success, we received growing numbers of emails from those left without money, food, homes and suffering cuts to their support.
In 2014 we must continue to fight and take all actions we can to change and expose the devastation this Government is causing to disabled people.
You can subscribe to receive all DPAC web posts or become a DPAC member at www.dpac.net.uk join us on twitter @Dis_PPL_Protest or on Facebook
Key highlights of DPAC actions from 2013 below….
DPAC were awarded campaign of the year (2012) by Lipstick Socialists. They said: The fight back by disabled people as the Con/Dem Govt stripped some of the most ‘vulnerable’ sections of the community of their benefits. Their campaign against Atos (who made the decisions) during the Paralympics was inspiring and they have led the way in the fightback against the Con/Dem Govt. – See more at: https://dpac.uk.net/2013/01/#sthash.tEoKp2ds.dpuf
Co-op Campaign: stop the Atos Contract! Launched to publicise that Co-op were thinking of renewing a three year Atos contract for occupational health-Eventual outcome Co-op publically state they wouldn’t renew the contract with Atos.
DPAC call Vigil on Judicial Review initiated by Mental Health Resistance Network on WCA
Benefit Justice organising meeting by Tenants, DPAC unions and others held in London. We also live streamed London DPAC meeting so that everyone could access it. Annie Howard exposed Atos and DWP in relation to the data protection Act https://dpac.uk.net/2013/01/dwp-and-atos-make-a-mockery-of-the-data-protection-act/ Alan Shellbrooke a Tory MP said he wanted to introduce US style cards for those on benefits. We also linked with Fuel Poverty Action for the first of the 2013 actions on Fuel Poverty. We urged everyone to have their say on the Care Bill and to mention the ILF issues and posted advice on the Bedroom Tax and Discretionary Housing Payments and how to access them ahead of this inhuman misery. Condemn Love anti-Atos song by the excellent Kevin Robbins got it’s first airing
We publicised the workfare cases The judgment on cases brought by Cait Reilly and Jamie Wilson mean that all but one of the Government’s workfare schemes (Mandatory Work Activity) that force unemployed people to work unpaid or lose benefits have been deemed unlawful. As we know IDS went off and rewrote the law- See more at: https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/#sthash.jZLw1k5A.dpuf
We publicised an update on the Bedroom Tax, unfortunately not rewritten by IDS or anyone else. The post by Frank proved to be an unfortunate prediction of what was to come.
As DPAC is on the working group of the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL)against European austerity and its effect on disabled people we asked you to write to your MEPs to supporta push to get this debated in the European Parliament
March 13th was the court case on ILF in which 5 ILF users took the DWP to court against the proposed closure of ILF in 2015 We stepped up the campaign to publish stories of ILF users and those that would have benefited from ILF if it hadn’t been closed to new users in 2010 by Miller without even a dodgy consultation process. https://dpac.uk.net/independent-living-fund/
The Benefit Justice Summit co-organised by DPAC in London brought together unions, grassroots groups, lawyers and tenants groups
John McDonnell puts forward an Early Day motion on the UK Disabled Peoples’ Manifesto put together by DPAC, Inclusion London, ALLFIE and Equal Lives Norfolk
Early Day Motion 483: Disabled People’s Manifesto
That this House warmly welcomes the launch of the UK Disabled People’s Manifesto, Reclaiming our Futures, developed by disabled people and their organisations across the UK, which sets out the shared vision of disabled people for an inclusive and equal society free from economic, social and cultural barriers; and urges all political parties represented in this House to engage in a constructive dialogue with the disabled people’s organisations promoting the manifesto with the aim of achieving its objectives. – See more at: https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/early-day-motion-483-disabled-peoples-manifesto/#sthash.VWGXvrlo.dpuf
DPAC host art exhibition and night of entertainment, plus a day debate on the continued relevance of the Social Model with Anne Rae, Colin Barnes and Debbie Jolly
The Brilliant Kate Belgrave writes on protests and Government Extremism, protests are held outside the DWP, the Department for Education, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Health before moving on to Parliament to host the launch of the UK Disabled People Manifesto: ‘reclaiming our Futures on the UK Freedom Drive day part of the Reclaiming Our Futures week of action
Two of the DPAC co-founders go to Strasbourg to join the European Network on Independent Living for the 6th ENIL Freedom Drive to march to the European Parliament and tackle MEPs. Debbie Jolly is elected to serve another term on the ENIL Board and presents on behalf of DPAC on protest and what is happening in the UK under imposed austerity http://www.enil.eu/campaigns/freedom-drive/
Government lose appeal against decision that WCA discrimates against those with mental health issues.The Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) who instigated the case against the WCA celebrate another victory. MHRN a grassroots group were later joined by the charities, but without MHRN the case would not have got to the courts. https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/victory-against-wca/
The Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) who instigated the case against the WCA celebrate another victory. MHRN a grassroots group were later joined by the charities, but without MHRN the case would not have been brought. Full press release below…
Government appeal against Work Capability Assessment discrimination ruling is rejected
The Court of Appeal today (4 December 2013) rejected the Government’s appeal against a landmark ruling by the Upper Tribunal that the Work Capability Assessment discriminates against people with mental health problems.
During a four day hearing in January 2013, the Upper Tribunal heard evidence from the 2 disabled claimants, from mental health charities, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and the National Autistic Society, as well as from the Government about the operation of the Work Capability Assessment, and the experience of people with mental health problems going through the process. In May 2013, having weighed the evidence, the tribunal concluded that the process substantially disadvantaged those with mental health problems. This was for two main reasons: first because the application process and the face to face interview can be particularly distressing and confusing for those with mental health problems; and second because of the great difficulty that many with mental health problems have in explaining their condition, which increases the risk that the benefit will be wrongly refused.
To remedy this disadvantage, the claimants, supported by the mental health charities and by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, argued that where ESA applicants have mental health problems, the DWP should consider obtaining medical evidence from the claimant’s doctor or psychiatric team at every stage of the process, and if a decision was taken by Atos or the DWP not to ask for medical evidence, this would have to be justified at each stage. This approach followed a recommendation made in November 2012 by Professor Malcolm Harrington, an independent reviewer of the process appointed by the Government.
The Government refused to implement this adjustment because it argued that the system did not discriminate against people with mental health problems. As stated above, the tribunal disagreed. It ruled that the adjustment to the process recommended by Professor Harrington might be a reasonable response to the “substantial disadvantage” it had found, and urged the Government to carry out a trial to see if obtaining further medical evidence earlier in the process would make the process better for people with mental health problems. Once the new process was trialled, the tribunal asked the Government to return to court for a hearing about whether – in light of the trial – the adjustment was reasonably necessary.
Instead of accepting the tribunal’s findings, and conducting an urgent trial, the Government appealed to the Court of Appeal against the tribunal’s finding of “substantial disadvantage”. It also argued that the two claimants did not have the right to bring the case because they themselves had not been adversely affected. Today the Court of Appeal rejected the Government’s arguments on both these points. In giving the main judgment of the court, Lord Justice Elias stated that:
“the Tribunal identified various ways in which [Further Medical Evidence] would assist [people] with a range of mental disabilities, and in my judgment there was sufficient evidence to justify the conclusion that [mental health patients] were placed, as a group, at more than a trivial disadvantage”.
The claimants solicitor, Ravi Low-Beer of the Public Law Project, stated:
“It is regrettable that the Government chose to appeal against the tribunal’s finding that people with mental health problems are disadvantaged by the current system, rather than take the steps necessary to improve it. Now that the Court of Appeal has upheld the tribunal’s finding, we sincerely hope that the Government will take immediate steps to improve the system. Disabled people, charities and many others are only asking the Government to implement the recommendation of the independent expert the Government itself appointed. This has been delayed since May 2013 while the Government appealed. It should not be delayed further.”
 The WCA is a face to face interview conducted by healthcare professionals employed by a private company, Atos Healthcare to assess eligibility for Employment and Support Allowance. Approximately 28,000 ESA claims (some 11,000 from existing Incapacity Benefit claimants, and some 17,000 from new ESA claimants) are made each week, around 40% of them by applicants who suffer from mental health problems. The speed and quality of the Work Capability Assessment interviews and the decisions resulting from them have been consistently criticised by disabled people.
Dr Paul Litchfield, who has been asked by DWP to carry out the 4th Independent Review of the WCA is not as independent as he seems.
He was part of the Mental Health Technical Working Group commissioned by DWP in 2006, with, among others, Sue Godby from the College of Occupational Therapists and Unum Provident, and Dr Angela Graham from Atos Origin, to develop ‘proposals from transforming the Personal Capability Assessment (the forerunner to the WCA), from an incapacity-based tool for determining entitlment to Incapacity Benefit to a more positive assessment incorporating assessment of capability and of health related interventions which would contribute to overcoming health-related barriers preventing people with disabilitiesfrom engaging with work’.
With new emphasis on what disabled people were able to do rather than on their limitations or on the social barriers they may encounter, the new test was what effectively became the WCA, adopting the biopsychosocial model promoted by Unum.
The new descriptors are a mirror image of the old ones, which recognised that some actitives could not be performed at all by a disabled person, while the new ones only recognise different levels of ‘difficulties’ for the same activity.
But this new version of PCA also makes a clear break from the old one as its intention is not only to explore disabled people’s residual functional ability but also ‘their approach and attitude to returning to work’ which is one of the main feature of the biopsychosocial model, which sees disability or sickness as a’state of mind’.
Ultimately there is a very clear conflict of interest: Dr Paul Litchfield will have to assess the effectiveness of the WCA, in particular ‘the way that mental health conditions are considered in the WCA’ and to consider the ‘biopsychosocial factors that influence capability for work’ as part of his review.
As part of the evidence one can speculate that he will certainly also receive, like Dr Harrington, strong calls for the WCA to be scrapped.
And as Dr Harrington did, he will certainly respond that the Independent Reviewer has not seen or heard any compelling arguments or evidence that the whole system should be scrapped.
How could he not say that about the WCA? After all, he designed it.
Are you a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) user that has been forced into a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment? We are looking for stories of those that have been forced into a PIP assessment through a third party. For example, if you have had an ESA assessment, failed and then details have been passed on to the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) and triggered a PIP assessment. Also if you think you have been reported to any agency for a change of circumstances and this has forced a PIP assessment.
This does not apply if you have reported a change of circumstances, but in any other case where you have been told that you must be assessed for PIP due to a change in your circumstances.