DAA News Network

UK: Benefits test 'is a complete mess', says expert

Posted 27/2-11 at 04.50

Professor Paul Gregg, an expert on welfare reform and one of those who devised the new benefits system, has warned that it would be wrong to roll out the new work capability assessment (WCA) nationally.

He said, "The test is badly malfunctioning. The current assessment is a complete mess. ...

The test so far has caused a huge amount of anguish to the people who have gone through it. We need to have something that is working accurately before we apply it nationally." Since early 2009, more than 240,000 cases have gone to tribunal hearings with 40% of the negative decisions being overturned. The test has been used for new claimants since 2008, but will now be applied to all 1.5 million people receiving the benefit.

In pilots of the new arrangements, 30% fewer people have been found unfit for work and 70% fewer people have been found eligible for the full-rate, unconditional support benefit. In both cases claimants have been put on lower-rate benefits. The reform is expected to save the government £1bn over five years.

Chris Grayling, the employment minister, acknowledged that there had been problems with the test, but said reforms were being introduced and would be in place in time. "I see this as a constant process of refinement and improvement," he said.


Editorial comment: Grayling has put his telescope to his Horatio Nelson (blind) eye and said "I really do not see the signal". This cavalier response to clear evidence of the failings of the work capability assessment defines the government's approach to dismantling or weakening a whole range of key structures created to support disabled people. As was evident in the recent interview with Maria Miller, Minister for Disabled People, (http://www.daa.org.uk/index.php?mact=Blogs,cntnt01,showentry,0&cntnt01entryid=350&cntnt01returnid=98) they do not want to listen to facts that don't fit their ideologically predetermined views. Instead they rush ahead using honeyed words (‘choice', ‘freedom', ‘independence') in an increasingly fruitless attempt to hide what is really driving ‘reform' - privatisation and cost cutting.

For an excellent, much more detailed picture of the ‘reforms' and their impact on the lives of disabled people, see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/23/government-reform-disability-benefits?intcmp=239


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