DAA News Network

UK: Review of benefits test finds major flaws

Posted 30/11-10 at 21.47

An independent review, chaired by Professor Malcolm Harrington, an occupational health specialist, has found the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), the test that decides whether someone will receive Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), is not fit for purpose.

This is because questionnaires are "lengthy" and sometimes difficult or impossible to fill in. Crude medical reports are being rubber stamped by staff in job centres, rather than being used as part of a fuller, more rounded assessment. Furthermore, the process is not working for people with fluctuating conditions because it relies on stock questions such as whether a claimant can do a particular physical activity.

The review has recommended the introduction of mental health specialists in medical assessment centres, reducing reliance on the medical reports and giving more power to Jobcentre staff, improving communications and the level of support provided to those who undergo a WCA and ensuring the medical assessment is transparent.

http://www.disabilitynow.org.uk/latest-news2/work-test-not-fit-for-purpose

The full report can be downloaded from: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/wca-review-2010.pdf.

Editorial comment: The Harrington's report confirms what disabled people have been saying well before the WCA was brought in (2008) by the previous Labour government. His findings also back up those of the Citizens Advice Bureau, that in March, 2010, found that the use of the WCA was resulting in, "People with serious illnesses and disabilities who could not reasonably be expected to work are being found fit for work." Although Harrington's report has been accepted by the Minister for Employment, Chris Grayling, it remains to be seen how and when the recommendations will be implemented.

 

 

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