Ministers have been accused of ignoring a public consultation and ploughing ahead with plans that will make their “fitness for work” testing regime even more stressful and unfair for sick and disabled people.
A presentation delivered by two senior Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) civil servants earlier this month suggests that ministers have decided – as many disabled activists feared after the publication of last year’s green paper – to introduce new benefit sanctions for sick and disabled people with the highest support needs.
The presentation at a DWP “Operational Stakeholder Engagement Forum” appears to confirm that the government had decided how it would reform the system of out-of-work disability benefits before its “consultation” process had finished on 17 February.
The government had claimed that it wanted to make the work capability assessment (WCA) less of an ordeal for claimants, with work and pensions secretary Damian Green telling last October’s Conservative party conference he wanted to support those disabled people who cannot work, and “sweep away unnecessary stress and bureaucracy which weighs them down”.
But slides from the presentation appear to show that his new regime will be even harsher, and that many employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants with the highest support needs and barriers to work will for the first time face having their benefits sanctioned if they do not co-operate with the regime.
The slides show DWP has already begun introducing a compulsory, face-to-face “health and work conversation” (HWC) with a jobcentre work coach that will apply to nearly all new claimants of ESA, weeks or even months before they go through the WCA process to decide whether they are not fit for work and eligible for the benefit.
Source: DWP presentation on ESA plans ‘confirms worst fears’ about green paper – Black Triangle Campaign
We have been here before. The Commons Work and Pensions Committee has heard about flaws in the benefit assessment process many times – whether it be for ESA or PIP. Has it made a blind bit of…
Source: MPs have been told disability benefits assessments are flawed – time and time again. Where’s the action? | Vox Political
The mother of a disabled man who starved to death after he was found “fit for work” and lost his out-of-work disability benefits has called for ministers to face criminal charges. Jill Gant says work and pensions ministers should be tried for misconduct in public office for failing to take action that could have saved the life of her son, Mark Wood. She spoke out after signing a letter, drawn up by the Green Party and backed by Disabled People Against Cuts, that calls on work and pensions secretary Damian Green to order an independent inquiry into the links between his department’s procedures and the deaths of benefit claimants. The party has produced a dossier of 50 cases in which the deaths of benefit claimants have been linked to decisions taken by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Mark Wood starved to death in 2013 after being found ineligible for employment and support allowance (ESA), even though he had never been able to cope with the demands of a job and his GP had
Source: Mother of ‘fit for work’ victim calls for ministers to face criminal charges | DisabledGo News and Blog
About 100 activists and their allies have taken part in a protest and vigil to mark the death of a disabled man who died minutes after leaving a jobcentre… six months after a government contractor found him “fit for work”. Lawrence Bond is said to have collapsed on the pavement shortly after leaving Kentish Town jobcentre, following a back-to-work appointment. He was reportedly awaiting the result of an appeal against being found fit for work and therefore ineligible for employment and support allowance (ESA), the out-of-work disability benefit. Disability News Service (DNS) has confirmed with the London Inner North coroner’s office that there will be an inquest into his death later this year. The inquest could be heard by the same coroner, Mary Hassell, who found in January 2014 that a disabled man, Mr A*, had taken his own life as a direct result of being found fit for work and ineligible for ESA, following a work capability assessment (WCA).
Source: Coroner orders inquest into ‘fit for work’ man who collapsed after leaving jobcentre | DisabledGo News and Blog
Cuts in disability benefits should be delayed until the government clarifies how it will support those in need of extra money, a group of MPs has said. The Work and Pensions Select Committee found there was little evidence that lower payments would motivate disabled people to find work. The allowance is set to be reduced from £102 to £73 per week from April. Ministers have argued that savings would be invested in a new support package for the most vulnerable. The committee said evidence supporting the idea that introducing a lower rate of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) would enhance incentives to work was “ambiguous at best”. It welcomed a decision to make some severely disabled claimants exempt from repeated reassessment for ESA but said it had deep concerns about assessments proposed in the recent work and health green paper. The committee said ministers should consider using incentives such as reductions in National Insurance contributions to encourage employers to employ
Source: Disability benefits cuts should be delayed, MPs say | DisabledGo News and Blog