Someone did a good job of hushing up this abomination. If John Pring hadn’t reported the inquest on Disability News Service, we might never have learned how the Department for Work and Pensio…
Is this another Government Benefit disaster waiting to happen, for while the theory sounds sound the practical aspects never appear to go right for the benefit claimants.
Is this just accidental or is it Government policy?
The meeting was a start, but the answers need to be coming, with a significance change of practice to eliminate mistakes, now that would be something.
Introduced in 2008, the work capability assessment (WCA) is used by the UK government to limit access to the long-term sickness and disability benefit, known as the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The scope of the assessment was increased in 2010.
Extensive evidence suggesting that the WCA is a dangerous and fatally flawed assessment model for disabled and chronically sick people continues to be disregarded by successive governments. This article identifies the influence of American corporate funders with UK welfare reform policies since 1992.
I argue that these influences have shaped the WCA in ways which cause preventable harm in the lives of chronically sick and disabled people, who are dependent upon the ESA for their financial survival. Further, I argue that the ESA assessment process was adopted to encourage the general public to purchase income protection insurance which intentionally undermines the UK welfare state.
Successive calls for welfare reform in the UK are not as progressive as they might appear to the outside world. From the point of view of chronically sick and disabled people themselves, the problems started thirty-five years ago under the Thatcher government when privatisation, a consumer model of care and individualism were introduced, arguably to the detriment of disabled people.
A woman whose husband murdered her two children now fears eviction thanks to the DWP stripping her benefits.
Her case is indicative of the DWP’s apparent refusal to appreciate the difficulties of living with mental health conditions.
‘Fit for work’
As the Sunday Post reported:
A medical assessor has ruled June Martin is fit for work despite being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression after losing her children, Michelle, 25, and son Ryan, seven.
Martin’s ex-husband murdered their two children in 2008 and is currently serving life in prison. Since findingher children dead, she has struggled to rebuild her life. She suffers from multiple mental health conditions and has felt suicidal at times.
Martin was receiving the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) disability benefit until she failed a Work Capability Assessment. The decision was upheld by a tribunal on 20 June. Independent Assessment Services, formerly known as Atos Healthcare, conducted Martin’s assessment. After the tribunal, a spokesperson stated:
Whilst the tribunal accepts Ms Martin has mental health problems and balance problems, the nature and extent of the resulting limitations are insufficient to score the required number of points.
As a result Ms Martin does not qualify for either component of personal independent payment.
But Martin claimed that the assessment was not fit for purpose. She told the Sunday Post:
Neither the assessor or the tribunal last week seemed to want to know about the trauma I suffer daily reliving finding my children posed as if they were asleep in their beds, or pulling back the covers to find them stabbed to death
An occupational therapist who carried out a “misleading” benefit assessment has been suspended for a year after regulators found she reported carrying out a physical examination of a disabled man that did not take place.
Paru Vekaria has shown no remorse over the incident, in which she stated in a written report for government contractor Maximus that she had carried out a detailed physical examination of the claimant.
But both the claimant – referred to as Service User A – and his daughter, who attended the work capability assessment (WCA) with him, said no such examination had taken place.
As a result of her “misleading” report, Service User A was found fit for work by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and so ineligible for employment and support allowance (ESA).
DWP later rubber-stamped the decision through the mandatory reconsideration process, and it was only at an appeal tribunal eight months later that the decision was overturned and Service User A was found eligible for ESA.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) claims it has no record of whether it showed vital documents linking its “fitness for work” test with the deaths of benefit claimants to the expert it hired to review the assessment.
Even though DWP possesses the documents, it is claiming it holds no information in its records on whether they were passed to Dr Paul Litchfield.
Litchfield published the final two independent reviews of the work capability assessment (WCA) in December 2013 and November 2014, but neither of his reviews mentioned the documents linking the WCA and the deaths of claimants.
The documents include at least seven internal “peer reviews” – reports written by civil servants following the deaths of benefit claimants – that mention the WCA, and two “prevention of future deaths reports” written by coroners.
The existence of the documents was only revealed by Disability News Service (DNS) in the years after Litchfield’s final report was published.
If they were not shown to Litchfield, the suspicion will mount that DWP and its ministers took deliberate steps to cover up evidence of the fatal impact of the assessment on sick and disabled people.
Last month, DNS submitted a freedom of information request to DWP, asking whether it provided Litchfield with copies of the peer reviews and the two prevention of future deaths reports.
In its response, DWP says only: “This information is not held”.
The coroners’ letters followed the deaths of two men with mental health conditions in 2010 and 2013 and each warned of further such deaths if changes were not made to the WCA.
The call for evidence for Litchfield’s second review was issued on 10 June 2014, five months after coroner Mary Hassell had written to DWP following an inquest into the death of Michael O’Sullivan, who had had significant, long-term mental health problems.
October 2018 is the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), as used by successive UK governments to restrict access to the out-of-work long-term sickness and disability benefit known as the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
The most radical reform in British welfare policy since the 1942 Beveridge Report was promoted as offering opportunity and releasing the potential of chronically sick and disabled people. It has been described ever since by politicians and civil servants as “supporting” those in receipt of long-term benefits for chronic illness and disability to return to work, regardless of any clinical diagnosis or prognosis which is completely disregarded by the WCA, rendering the assessment both meaningless and dangerous.
It is surely cause for serious concern to learn that the government’s own mental health technical working group, as used by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in 2006 and 2007 to help to design the WCA, were then disregarded when advising the DWP that the WCA should be abandoned as it would create preventable harm, especially for those with a mental health problem.
As exposed by the Disability News Service: “Ministers and civil servants were “ruthless” and “reckless” in forcing through their new “fitness for work” test and refusing to abandon it, even after they were told of the harm it was causing…”
Perhaps of greater concern is that the 2005 DWP commissioned research “The Scientific and Conceptual Basis for Incapacity Benefits” by the former DWP Chief Medical Officer Mansel Aylward and former orthopaedic surgeon Gordon Waddell, as used by the DWP to justify the adoption of the WCA, has been totally discredited and has failed all academic scrutiny.
Source: Sick and disabled Brits killed by the state – crime without punishment : Welfare Weekly
Disabled campaigners have criticised new Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) rules that explain which benefit claimants will no longer have to be repeatedly put through the much-criticised “fitness for work” test. DWP announced last month, on the eve of the Conservative party conference in Manchester, that some claimants in the support group of employment and support allowance (ESA) – and the equivalent universal credit group – would no longer need to attend “routine reassessments”. Only those with “the most severe and lifelong health conditions or disabilities” will be exempt from reassessments, and they will be told of their exemption when they receive the results of their next work capability assessment (WCA), the test which assesses ESA eligibility. Although DWP declined to release the eligibility criteria for exemptions, the guidelines have now been published by Disability Rights UK, one of the disability organisations that took part in discussions with the government as it