WCA is Declared Too Difficult to Navigate
- 22 May
A court has heard that the process for Work Capability Assessments (WCA) are too difficult for many to navigate.
This is following a legal challenge won by two people with mental health problems against the government's assessments for the sickness benefits.
Two people with mental health problems have taken the case to court as they have said the system discriminates against them.
This is because people who have conditions such as theirs may lack insight can struggle to gather the right documents needed for a successful claim, such as doctors' reports.
They put forward that where a claim is from someone with a mental health problem, it should be the government's responsibility to seek additional medical evidence.
Judges at the Upper Tribunal have ruled that the WCA gives a substantial disadvantage to those with mental illness, autism and learning difficulties, as the process is too difficult for many to navigate.
Charities have called for the government to suspend the use of WCA for the people they work with until it is improved.
UK charities Rethink Mental Illness, Mind and the National Autistic Society intervened in the case to provide evidence based on the experiences of their members and supporters.
Mind's chief executive Paul Farmer said:
The judgment is a victory, not only for the two individuals involved in this case, but for thousands of people who have experienced additional distress and anxiety because they have struggled through an assessment process which does not adequately consider the needs of people with mental health problems.
Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society (NAS) said:
Now that the tribunal has ruled that the work capability assessment process disadvantages people with autism, the government must stop putting them through it until a more equitable system is in place.
Those who devised this process failed to understand the complexities of conditions like autism. People with autism can struggle to understand and articulate how their disability affects them – which is just what this current system requires them to do, by placing the burden on them to collect their own evidence.
Making people with autism jump through these hoops was only ever setting them up to fail.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says there are safeguards in place and it will appeal against the ruling, but would like to continually work with the charities involved to help improve the service for people with mental health problems.
A DWP spokesperson said:
We disagree with today's ruling and intend to appeal. We believe we have made - and continue to make - significant improvements to the WCA process for people with mental health conditions.
Work Capability Assessment (WCA)
The tests have been introduced in 2008 to determine whether a person is fit for employment. They are carried out by the government, and are used to measure a person's entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
20,000 people are assessed each week for ESA in England, Wales and Scotland and over a third of these people are claiming primarily for mental health problems. This means that tens of thousands of people each month are going through a process that could be putting them at a disadvantage.
Since the WCA was introduced in 2008 about 40% of those found fit for work, through the assessment, have appealed against the decision, and about 40% of those appeals have succeeded. These appeals cost the state about £50m a year, and the tribunals service has had to increase staff levels to try to cope with a mounting backlog of cases.
Under the current system, claimants have to provide themselves evidence from a professional such as a GP or social worker. There is no obligation for the DWP to collect this evidence for vulnerable claimants, apart from in exeptional circumstances.
Image source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1396218
- 28 Aug
Figures find thousands of benefit claimants died after found fit for work
Over 80 people a month have died shortly after being declared “fit to work” prompting campaigners to call for an overhaul of the government’s welfare system, reports the Guardian.Figures from...
- 24 Aug
Disability campaigners concerned over benefit shakeups
The Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is set to announce new reforms to sickness benefits in the hope to get more people into work, reports the Guardian.It is expected the Mr Duncan Smith...
- 07 Aug
Single parents are being hit by benefit cuts
Government statistics detailing who has been affected by the policy have found that in May 2015 49% were single parents with children under the age of five, reports the Guardian.It is being said that...
- 30 Jul
Government to review helping benefit claimants back into work
Led by Professor Dame Carol Black, the inquiry will consider the case for linking people who are entitled to benefits with accepting appropriate treatment or support, reports 24dash.The review's...
- 23 Jul
Call for review of benefits delivery
The inquiry will look at the problems that could occur when benefits are underpaid or delayed, reports 24dash. The Committee invites written evidence on: Frank Field MP, chair of the committee,...
- 15 May
11,400 tenants could be affected by new benefits cut
Inside Housing have analysed data from the government's Stat-Xplore website and has found that 11,449 social housing tenants are set to be affected by the governments plans to remove housing benefit...
- 24 Mar
Deaths due to benefit sanctions should have independent investigations
A report into benefit sanctions by the Work and Pensions Committee has said that suicides linked to sanctions should be scrutinised in a similar manner to deaths in police custody, reports Inside...
- 11 Mar
Charity finds benefit sanctions regime to be flawed
A report conducted for Crisis by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University found that benefit claimants were subject to a ‘postcode lottery' on whether or...
- 30 Oct
Cuts to employment and support allowance benefits
With these cuts it could see new claimants being given just 50p more per week than people who are on job seekers allowance, reports the BBC. The Department for Work and Pensions have said the ESA...
- 10 Oct
Proposed benefit rule labelled ‘worse than poor law'
The Social Security Advisory Committee is currently cons ulting on the proposals which George Osborne first announced in June 2013, reports Inside Housing.The seven day wait would occur on top of the...
Responding to the DWP Consultation: Housing Benefit Reform - Supported Housing "I thought this briefing was very good and very useful. The presentation was clear, well argued and I always find Michael gives me food for thought even if I don't agree with everything he says. I really like the way he facilitates a discussion in the room and I learn as much from other participants as I do from the presenter which is always good. Right length, right tone." R.P. - Richmond Fellowship