Thursday 8 December 2016

Petition: End the "Fit for Work" Tests as NOT FIT for purpose!

"We are consulting on further reform of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). On 31 October we launched a Green Paper consultation on how we can further improve the process, such as through separating decisions on financial support from decisions on employment support. We are also consulting on how we can simplify and streamline assessments - particularly for those with the most severe health conditions and disabilities. Over the coming months we will be consulting with disabled people and those who have health conditions, as well as with carers, families, professionals, and a range of organisations who, like us, want to see further change.
While reforming the welfare system so that the greatest number of people possible have the opportunity to lead a full and fulfilling life in work, we are protecting those who, through disability or ill health, are unable to work. We are conscious that it is of vital importance that while supporting so many people in such a range of circumstances, we treat every individual with the dignity and humanity they deserve.
There are circumstances in which we carry out internal reviews to establish whether anything related to an individual’s benefit claim should have been done differently. These could include cases where a complaint has been made by somebody who has been identified as vulnerable, or where we receive information that an individual has attempted or completed suicide and it is alleged that Departmental activity may have contributed to this – in these latter circumstances a review is mandatory.
It is a mechanism to get a factual account of events related to the individual’s claim, without opinion or judgement attached. The fact that a review has been carried out does not of itself imply that the Department was at fault.
In order to protect individual claimants as much as possible, a number of safeguards have been built into Employment and Support Allowance (ESA); some since its inception and others subsequently - some as a result of recommendations made in the independent reviews of the WCA.
For instance, Visiting Officers can visit individuals in their own homes if concerns have been raised about their vulnerability. As well as helping to complete benefit claims they can explain any requirements placed on claimants at various stages of their claim, and the consequences of not doing so without good reason. They can also relay concerns back to the Department if they are particularly concerned about an individual’s welfare. This could result in the person taking a decision contacting the claimant’s GP, social services department or, for example, their community mental health nurse if they have one.
In cases where it is likely a claimant will be found fit for work, the claimant is contacted by telephone to review the information already held, and to request any additional information that they could consider before making their decision. If they do then decide to find the claimant fit for work, they explain to the claimant that their ESA award will stop, and advise them which benefits they could apply for. The Department will make two separate attempts to contact the claimant; in cases where the claimant is vulnerable and cannot be contacted they will arrange a safeguarding home visit to the claimant.
If claimants are unhappy with the decision on their benefit claim they can ask for a mandatory reconsideration, where all of the evidence is looked at again by a different Decision Maker. As part of this process the claimant will be asked if there is any other evidence or information that they would like to be considered. If, following a mandatory reconsideration, the claimant is still not satisfied with the decision they have the right to lodge an appeal at the First-tier Tribunal.
The fairness of the welfare system remains one of its most important characteristics, and we are keen to make further improvements wherever possible. That’s why the Secretary of State announced on 1 October that we are stopping ESA reassessments for those with the most severe and life-long conditions, as well as announcing on 16 November that we want to ensure the sanctions system works for people with mental health problems and that from next year jobseekers who are homeless or who have a mental health condition will be able to immediately access hardship payments if they receive a benefit sanction. This change is expected to help around 10,000 people over four years from 2017/18.
We welcome all views as part of our consultation:
Department for Work and Pensions"

Arafel: Benefits Christmas Montage,,, 

"Four human rights and equality watchdogs have been snubbed by the minister for disabled people after raising serious concerns about how her government dismissed a report that found it guilty of “grave or systematic” violations of the UN disability convention."

Quote; "..the government responded to the report by dismissing its conclusions and all 11 of its recommendations.
Now the UK’s official independent mechanism (UKIM) for monitoring implementation of the convention – the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Scottish Human Rights Commission – has called on the UK government to “urgently reconsider” its response to the UN report*.
It has written to Penny Mordaunt (pictured), the minister for disabled people, to express its concerns about both the findings of the report, and the government’s response.
But a DWP spokeswoman refused even to acknowledge the letter, after being asked for a comment by Disability News Service.
Instead, the spokeswoman said that “everything the government has to say about the UN inquiry is contained in its comprehensive official response [to the CRPD report]”.
In its analysis of the government’s response to the inquiry, UKIM says it has failed to show that it is giving “due regard to the need to promote the equality of disabled people or their broader human rights, when developing new law and policy”.
It says in the letter: “We welcome the publication of the inquiry report, and we are concerned by its conclusion that the UK Government’s programme of social security reform since 2010 has resulted in grave or systematic violations of disabled people’s human rights.
“Of even greater concern is the UK Government’s response, which suggests that it will not be taking action on any of the recommendations.”
The letter calls on the government to reconsider its position in the light of the “continuing impact on disabled people’s lives”.
The four commissions defend the way that CRPD researched the report, which they say was “robust and comprehensive” and “based on a rigorous review of the available evidence”.
UKIM itself contributed “detailed evidence” to the committee for its report.
This contrasts with comments made by work and pensions secretary Damian Green, who last month described the report as “patronising and offensive”.
UKIM points out that “similar concerns” to those outlined by CRPD have been raised in previous reports by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and in a letter from the UN special rapporteurs on housing, disabilities, poverty and food." Go to:
for full article.

"The government has been accused of following a “historically obsolete” welfare strategy by a team of Cambridge University researchers."

Quote; "The Conservatives have frequently claimed that welfare provision isn’t “sustainable”. Welfare support has been reduced so much that many people have been unable to meet even their most basic needs. Food and fuel poverty have significantly increased over the past four years, for example. We have witnessed the return of absolute poverty in the UK, something we haven’t seen since before the inception of the welfare state, until now. Social security is also harshly conditional, with embedded punishment regimes and psycho-compulsion in the diminishing “support” being offered. The emphasis has shifted from “support” to managing and enforcing poor citizen’s compliance and conformity.
Crucially, the researchers, who are based at St John’s College are opposing the idea that welfare and health spending is a “burden” on the country’s economy, arguing instead that economic prosperity is intrinsically tied to an adequate level of welfare provision*." Go to: For full article.

*Italics mine.

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