Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show
Posts Tagged ‘Work Capability Assessment’
Work Capability Assessment Campaigners.
Earlier this year this happened,
Peers have backed down in their battle with MPs over cuts to disabled people’s benefits after ministers invoked special powers to push them through.
The government was twice defeated in the House of Lords over a £30 a week cut to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for certain claimants.
But it is set to go ahead after peers deferred to the elected Commons.
Ministers claimed “financial privilege” to assert the Commons’ right to have the final say on budgetary measures.
Ministers argue the changes will encourage people to get into work, but this is strongly disputed by opponents.
Then at the start of October this happened (BBC),
Tens of thousands of people claiming the main benefit for long-term sickness will no longer face repeated medical assessments to keep their payments.
Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green said it was pointless to re-test recipients of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) with severe conditions and no prospect of getting better.
More than two million people receive ESA, which is worth up to £109 a week.
The move has been welcomed by charities supporting those with severe illness.
Now this there is this:
The scheme that assesses claimants of disability benefits faces a major overhaul, following claims by a charity that it is “fundamentally flawed”.
A consultation on reforming the Work Capability Assessment will be announced on Monday.
Ministers want claimants to be assessed in a more “targeted and personalised” way to help more people find jobs.
The charity Scope, which had criticised the current assessment scheme, said it welcomed the planned changes.
It said disabled people needed “expert, tailored employment support”.
Both Employment Support Allowance, which is paid to more than two million people, and the assessment, were originally introduced by Labour and then expanded by the coalition government.
The consultation – to be launched by Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green on Monday – follows the announcement that people with severe conditions will no longer face reassessments for their benefits.
It will examine how people receiving ESA can be helped back into employment without having their benefits put at risk while they search for a job.
Note this is already problematic since nobody has yet been able to show exactly what this ‘help’ is. and how it….helps.
Mr Green said: “A disability or health condition should not dictate the path a person is able to take in life.
“No one wants a system where people are written off and forced to spend long periods of time on benefits when, actually, with the right support they could be getting back into work.
“The proposed changes… will focus on improving opportunities and raising aspirations while making sure those people who most need support from the government receive it.”
Former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who spearheaded the government’s welfare reforms for six years before resigning in March, said: “ESA is a part of the benefits system left over from the last Labour government and is in real need of reform.
“These proposals are directly taken from a full plan for reform that we at the DWP were close to completing before I resigned.
“The purpose was to get rid of the binary choice that you were fit for work or not fit for work. My plan covered all the areas announced today and went further in proposing some other positive changes.”
Note: more bald faced lies from the man responsible for this:
In September 2013 leaked documents showed that Duncan Smith was looking at “how to make it harder for sick and disabled people to claim benefits”. Duncan Smith was advised that it would be illegal to introduce secondary legislation, which does not require parliament’s approval, in order to give job centre staff more powers to make those who were claiming Employment and Support Allowance undertake more tests to prove that they were making a serious effort to come off benefits and find a job. The powers being discussed also included “forcing sick and disabled people to take up offers of work.” DWP staff would also have the power to strip claimants with serious, but time-limited health conditions, of benefits if they refuse the offer of work
Is this true?
BBC political correspondent Eleanor Garnier said the move signalled a clear change of approach from that of David Cameron’s government, which tightened and reduced welfare spending.
This certainly is.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams called for the assessments to be scrapped, saying they caused “needless misery and stress” for thousands of sick and disabled people.
She said the government’s approach was “ideologically driven with the sole purpose of targeting the most vulnerable in our society to pay for their austerity plans, painting disabled people as scroungers and shirkers, whilst making no impact on the disability employment gap”.
We await more comment from this quarter:
Citizens Advice said it dealt with 25,000 issues around Work Capability Assessments last year, saying the reforms should make the test “fair, consistent and right first time”.
MS Society chief executive Michelle Mitchell said: “We are keen to help create a system that makes more sense.
“However, it must be recognised that many people with long-term progressive conditions will simply be too unwell to work and no amount of extra employment support will change that.”
Phil Reynolds, from the charity Parkinson’s UK, told BBC Radio 5 live he “cautiously welcomed” the new move, but that his organisation had been trying to highlight the issue for a long time.
“We continue to hear examples of people with really serious conditions, like Parkinsons, who are put in that ‘back to work’ group because the assessment fails to recognise that a person’s condition will only get worse,” he said.
“It’s really important that anything that comes out of this leads to positive improvements and a more sensitive assessment.”
Iain Duncan Smith, still “Fit for DWP Work”.
The Department for Work and Pensions has admitted defeat in its attempt to hide the number of people who have died while claiming incapacity benefits since November 2011 – and has announced that the number who died between January that year and February 2014 is a shocking 91,740.
This represents an increase to an average of 99 deaths per day or 692 per week, between the start of December 2011 and the end of February 2014 – compared with 32 deaths per day/222 per week between January and November 2011.
The DWP has strenuously asserted that “any causal effect between benefits and mortality cannot be assumed from these statistics”.
Read more on Vox Political.
The Guardian reports:
Campaigners demand welfare overhaul after statistics reveal 2,380 people died between 2011 and 2014 shortly after being declared able to work.
More than 80 people a month are dying shortly after being declared “fit for work” according to new data, prompting campaigners to call for an overhaul of the government’s controversial welfare regime.
Statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions on Thursday show that 2,380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 shortly after a work capability assessment (WCA) found they were able to work.
The administration of the WCA by officials has been widely criticised as crude and inaccurate by campaigners. There have been hundreds of thousands of appeals of fit-for-work decisions over the last few years, about four in 10 of which have succeeded.
But there was widespread acceptance that the data should be treated with caution. Because the cause of death was not recorded, it is impossible to show whether a death was linked to an incorrect assessment.
Of this number, 2,380 – or 4% – had received a decision that they were fit for work, meaning that they were at risk of losing their ESA benefit.
Of the 50,580, 7,200 claimants had died after being awarded ESA and being placed in the work-related activity group – a category which aims to identify claimants who are unfit to work but may be able to return to work in the future.
Tom Pollard, policy and campaigns manager at mental health charity Mind, said: “We’re not able to comment on these specific statistics as they only tell us the number of people who have died while on employment and support allowance [ESA], not the circumstances or details of these deaths.
“Nevertheless, we do have serious concerns about the benefit system, particularly for those with mental health problems currently being supported by ESA.
“The assessment used to decide who is eligible for ESA does not properly take account of the impact having a mental health problem can have on someone’s ability to work. As a result, many people don’t get the outcome that’s right for them, and have to go through a lengthy and stressful appeals process.
“We desperately need to see an overhaul of the system, with more tailored specialised support for people with mental health problems and less focus on pressuring people into work and stopping their benefits.”
Official Files: Mortality Statistics: Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance.
You can read the report: here.
The conscience of Atos Doctors have finally caught up with them following threats of violence and intimidation in their work along with death threats made to staff face-2-face and online. Atos has had to withdraw from its Government contract for the Work Capability Assessments as its staff are deserting a sinking ship – protesters have done extremely well to put pressure on Atos and expose their actions, and of course get some form of justice for the thousands of victims. But justice is still to come.
The tables have turned. The Government is angry at Atos’ for abandoning the bullying and killing of thousands of disabled and sick people. Atos wanted to walk away from the contract for months with great resistance from the Government but decided to break confidentiality by publishing a statement online about withdrawing from the contract. They have broken proper protocol by doing this under desperation…
The issue for the Conservatives (officially, the coalition) is how do you replace Atos with other companies? On paper its relatively simple to do. Atos are kind enough to keep doing the contract until replacements were found. You might be interested in knowing how they want a couple of providers to eventually replace Atos, and not just replacing them with one big company hungry for public cash. The answer is simple, they need parallel action to continue Atos’ work, after all staff are leaving left, right and centre… it makes sense to quickly get an alternative replacement rather than requiring 6-12 months or so to replace the entire Atos offering.
Its true that you are only as strong as your weakest link. This scandal is going to rage now, as the vicious untouchable circle has been broken. Enough medical professionals soon out of Atos employment are likely to be willing to disclose the insider trade secrets and practices via anonymous whistle-blowing – especially if unable to get another similar job.
There will also be greater scrutiny to review the WCA, Atos’ conduct and the contract in general. This is what the Government is angry at. You cannot make a fair assessment on an ongoing contract but once this has been assigned to other providers, both Atos and the Government have a lot of questions to answer to.
Abuse and Violence
Atos claims just under 2000 assaults or severe abuse on staff last year. These so-called medical professionals didn’t mind getting paid for falsifying assessments fully in the knowledge that by doing so could result in death; but as soon as they started to get mildy abused – probably sworn at, they threatened to jump ship, leaving Atos behind.
The Government knows (as Atos does too well) that threats and fear of violence, intimidation and death (allegedly) is only going to increase.
Keep up the pressure on Atos. And the Government!
We need to:-
- Pressure the Government into withdrawing the WCA
- Pressure any bidders not to want to bid for the replacement contracts
- Persuade people via awareness to discourage individuals wanting to apply for the assessment jobs
- Keep pressure on Atos. They are still running the contract for now
- Get justice for the victims including a full in depth inquiry, including where possible criminal charges
Thanks to everyone protesting against Atos and the poor treatment of the disabled and sick. The media is still paying lip service to this whole scandal. There is a General Election next year, the media are looking for scandals to embarrass the Conservatives and welfare/unemployment/immigration is an increasingly hot topic… keep the pressure on.
I mention this because it has been brought to our attention that people in Ipswich are suffering under the ‘testing’ regime that this is part of. The local centre dealing with medical testing is known as ‘Lourdes’ – the sick, and the disabled go there and, bingo, they are miraculously cured!
It’s got to the point where the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce (yes!) has been concerned enough to post this:
Papworth Trust is leading a coalition of disability charities declaring that the Work Capability Assessment, which examines people’s fitness for employment, isn’t working.
Charities are being overwhelmed by evidence showing the assessment to be inaccurate and often unfair to the nation’s most vulnerable people. The assessment is too focused on physical capability, meaning that people with serious mental health issues, learning disabilities and fluctuating health conditions are often marked as fit to work.
Wendy, a Nurse Manager who had a breakdown and tried to commit suicide after being overwhelmed with stress, has been assessed as fit to work. Wendy says “I went from being a capable person to someone who couldn’t even make simple decisions such as what to eat. I was like that for several months.”
Her assessment was carried out by a nurse rather than a psychiatrist or psychologist. Because Wendy could wash, dress, walk and talk coherently, she was determined fit to work. Wendy says “Our financial worries are a major stress factor. I’ve always paid into the system and have never claimed for anything before. I desperately want to go back to work but am still unwell. I need time and support to recover before I can hold down a full-time job again.”
Papworth Trust believes that the independent assessors have not been sufficiently trained to recognise the full range of disabilities, causing people dealing with serious health conditions to be reported as work ready.
The battle against benefit cuts and “poverty pimps”Posted by Laurie Penny – 24 January 2011 10:38
Disabled people and their allies are fighting back against cuts – shame on the rest of us if we do not fight with them.
Of all the obdurate lies peddled by the Conservative Party in the run-up to the last general election, perhaps the most callous was when the Tory disability spokesperson Mark Harmer told key representatives of Britain’s millions of disabled and mentally unwell citizens: “I don’t think disabled people have anything to fear from a Conservative government.” It turns out that disabled people have a great deal to fear.