A fit to work test is telling people with progressive conditions that they’ll soon recover enough to work again.
Almost half of people who have some kind of progressive condition, such as Parkinson’s, who put in a claim for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), a sickness benefit, have been told that they will recover enough to look for work in the future.
Parkinson’s UK conducted an investigation with three other charities and found that 45% of people who put in a claim for ESA, whilst having Parkinson’s, Cystic Fibrosis, Multiple Sclerosis or Rheumatoid Arthritis, were placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG).
The WRAG defines people as able to recover to the point where they will be eligible to look for work again which is a contradiction to the definition of a progressive condition; something that can only get worse over time.
As well as being placed in the WRAG, many had their benefits removed after a year as an ‘incentive’ to find employment.
Today, Parkinsons UK along with the MS Society, Cystic Fibrosis Trust and National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, called for major changes to the system when presenting our dossier to the independent review of the Work Capability Assessment, which you can view here.
Caroline Hacker, Head of Policy and Service Improvement, said “A system which tells people who have had to give up work because of a debilitating progressive condition that they’ll recover, is farcical and simply defies belief.
“It shows that many assessors, and those who rubber-stamp the decisions in Government, don’t apply the most basic understanding of the medical conditions they are dealing with.”
It has also been called to attention that over the past five years 70% of new claimants with a progressive condition has been reassessed two or more times on the same claim which causes stress and anxiety that can make conditions such as this worse.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “It’s ridiculous to suggest that we think people with degenerative conditions will ‘recover’. However, it is important that we don’t simply write people off. There is strong evidence that working can be beneficial for many people who have a health condition.”