Today the Department for Work and Pensions published its latest statistics around Employment and Support Allowance and the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The Work Capability Assessment has been widely criticised, and today’s figures show the extent of Fit for Work decisions that have been successfully overturned.
Crucially the figures show:
- 52% of initial Fit for Work decisions appealed against were overturned after challenge in the given period.
The “ESA: outcomes of Work Capability Assessments: claims made to Jun 2015 and appeals to Dec 2015 can be found here: http://bit.ly/1TKAyN1
Previous data sets here: http://bit.ly/1Tvpa7n
Rossanna Trudgian, Head of Campaigns at the learning disability charity Mencap said:
“Today’s figures show yet again that the Work Capability Assessment is failing the people it is designed to support.
“With tribunals overturning more than half of decisions brought to them, the Government must urgently improve the assessment that is failing vulnerable people every single day.
“This figure is even more worrying given the recent cuts to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). From April 2017, new claimants in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of ESA will receive £30 a week less. With so many incorrect decisions highlighted we’re fearful that people will be wrongly placed in the WRAG rather than the Support Group – having to live on a drastically reduced level of income simply because the WCA fails to assess their needs correctly.
“We hear from many people with a learning disability who during the WCA are asked questions they don’t understand and aren’t offered the support they need to fully answer questions – meaning the WCA not only fails people with a learning disability, but also causes unjust fear and anxiety.
“Not only is the Government pushing through cuts to disability benefits, but its benefits system is continually making wrong decisions and directly harming people’s chances of finding work.
“We now urge the Government to consider a fundamental redesign of the WCA, and to think seriously about the impact of its repeated cuts to benefits and social care on the on the 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK.”
Sam Jefferies, 25 who has a learning disability and receives Employment and Support Allowance in the Work Related Activity Group said:
“I can’t remember exactly when I was moved across to ESA. I think it might have been in 2010 or 2011 when I was invited to an assessment. It wasn’t very good, and they decided I didn’t have enough points for the support group so wanted to put me in the work related activity group.
“I had a social worker at the time and they helped me to appeal and I ended up in the support group. I had another medical in August this 2015 and again, I didn’t get enough points. We wrote letters, but because of all the cuts I don’t have a social worker anymore. They weren’t able to write letters for me because there’s no one that really knows me anymore. I ended up in the work related activity group.
“After the assessment I wasn’t sent any information – nothing about their decision – and then I got a letter from the job centre saying I had to go to interviews every 2 weeks or they would sanction my benefits.”
There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.
For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email firstname.lastname@example.org