More than 4,500 sick and disabled people were wrongly refused benefits despite having a “good reason” for missing assessments, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has admitted today.
The startling admission was slipped out in a statement to MPs as they prepared to head off for their winter break, in what some campaigners have described as a ‘deliberate attempt to bury bad news’.
“We expect around 4,600 people to gain as a result of this review exercise”, the statement says. However, the Independent reports that many of these people have yet to identified.
Source: More than 4,500 sick and disabled people wrongly refused benefits, DWP admit : Welfare Weekly
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
Nobody should believe for a single moment that a Conservative Government will pay any attention to the advice of the experts – especially when the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is doing precisely what it was meant to do – clearing sick and disabled people off the benefit books with no regard for their future health.
That being said, the analysis of the WCA provided by the British Psychological Society, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, the British Psychoanalytic Council, the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies and the UK Council for Psychotherapy in a joint response to the Government’s consultation, ‘Improving Lives’, is very useful information.
So here it is:
We urge the Government to reform its approach and the assessment process. We also strongly recommend that this be
Source: Psychologists demand reform of ‘fundamentally flawed’ sickness benefit assessment system | Vox Political