Coalition cracks down on IB/ESA

Welfare crackdown begins with drive to reduce incapacity benefit claims – read here

The new ‘phony’ test doesn’t subsidise employers and create tiny, limited jobs. It just moves the goal posts and declares that almost every one – no matter how sick or disabled – could with the right support and transport and a very sympathetic employer do some small amount of work.

Obviously this is right if you change the meaning of words and move the goalposts far enough. But it is semantics. It is correct to say that Stephen Hawkins can work. But realistically it is not going to happen for the most severely and enduringly ill. This is a  competitive labour market.

But having failed the ‘test’ they lose benefit and support. This is so dishonest.

If the Coalition want to save money and no longer want to financially support sick people who cannot realistically work then they should come out and say – sorry – the money ran out – we can no longer support you.


5 Responses to “Coalition cracks down on IB/ESA”

  1. Kate Says:

    I thought you might be interested in the response I received when I wrote to Maria Miller, the Minister responsible for disability. I didn’t get a response direct from her, but from that department. The response was by snail mail so I had to copy it out so any errors are probably mine. Here is the minister’s response:

    Thank you for your email of 25 May to the Minister for Disabled People Concerning Employment & Support Allowance. I am sorry that the Minister has not been able to reply personally but I hope you will appreciate that she receives a great deal of correspondence. I have been asked to reply on this occasion.

    I would first like to say that your comments have been noted. However, I should explain that the Work Capability Assessment was developed in consultation with a variety of representative groups, including Mind and Mencap. It focuses on the functional effects of an individual’s condition rather than the condition itself. In order to deal with the problems and needs of individuals with mental health conditions, the assessment included ten activities related to mental, cognitive and intellectual function. These include coping with social situations and dealing with other people. In addition, the scoring system has been revised, removing a potential bias in the Personal Capability Assessment against people with mental health problems, as opposed to limitation of physical function.

    The Work Capability Assessment also takes into account the functional effects of fluctuating conditions. Customers are asked to fill in a questionnaire (ESA50) as part of the claim process, which allows them to describe their condition, including if and how it varies. Healthcare Professionals carrying out assessments are trained to enquire about variability, both day to day and in the long term. Fluctuations, irrespective of their frequency and duration, are reflected in the opinion provided to the Departmental Decision Maker by the Healthcare Professional. Someone who is unable to complete a task reliably and repeatedly is considered to be unable to do that task at all.

    The application process can prove stressful for some people and a number of steps have been taken to ensure that this is minimised wherever possible. Where people are required to attend an assessment interview, the process is endeavoured to be completed in as short a timeframe as possible, preferably within 13 weeks from the date of the first claim. If it is not possible for the customer to attend the assessment there is the possibility of Atos conducting a home visit.

    The assessment should be sensitively conducted by an approved Healthcare Professional. In order to create a suitable environment, individuals are encouraged to bring a relative with them. Assessments are carried out in a private, purpose-built room with a medical examination centre. Healthcare Professionals spend as long as is required to carry out an appropriate assessment. Some types of disabling conditions will take longer to assess than others.

    Healthcare Professionals carrying out the assessments are trained in disability assessment medicine in order to assess the capability of an individual to engage in work. They are given specific training in assessing individuals with mental health conditions and receive ongoing medical education in order to remain up to speed with developments in the field of disability medicine.

    However, it is important to note that the Atos Healthcare Professionals only act in an advisory capacity. In making a decision on benefit entitlement a Departmental Decision Maker considers all available evidence, including the medical assessment report and any evidence provided by the customer’s GP or consultant. However, a customer’s GP or consultant is unlikely to have either the disability analysis background or specific knowledge which all Healthcare Professionals carrying out the assessment must have.

    The Work Capability Assessment was developed with the aim of identifying the most appropriate benefit for people. There will be people who, despite their health condition, will be considered capable of work. In recognition of this, support for those who are found fit for work is being developed as part of the Jobseeker’s Allowance regime. This recognises that some customers with health conditions or disabilities may require more flexibility due to their condition. While claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance these individuals are able to restrict their availability for work, provided these restrictions are reasonable given their condition. There is no limit on these restrictions per se, which can include the availability and type of work someone can be expected to do, or the number of activities they have to do to demonstrate they are actively seeking work. Such arrangements are agreed between the customer and their Personal Adviser at Jobcentre Plus.

  2. Kate Says:

    PS – I agree it would be much more honest to say they’ve run our of money. I would rather have my benefits frozen, and I’m sure others would, given the choice of that or losing a hefty amount that they couldn’t live on

  3. carerwatch Says:

    Sorry Kate – but I think your reply from the Minister is a lot of misleading, meaningless waffle.

    It’s true that they consulted with the disability charities who went along with their plans trying to help and advise – but in the end the government did what they wanted to do any way and now they take the charities names in vain suggesting that they approve of this nonsense.

    There is no test. It’s a nonsense. Technically every body has some limited capacity to work. It’s the same semantics as whether a disabled child can attend a mainstream school. Of course they can if you send in enough help and resources. Everyone can live at home with enough equipment and nurses and doctors coming round. That’s not the same as trying to do it on zero budget with no subsidies and nothing to sweeten the deal for the employer when you can’t keep up.

    Are they going to spend money paying employers to select less active and less fit people and sending in carers with them. Of course they aren’t. It’s like care in the community. Done well it costs more money -not less.

    The test insa nonsense. How can there be a single test. Take one illness – schizophrenia, MS, cancer. Now describe in words how you can tell if a person with that illness can work or not. Now turn what you said in to a single score. Now put all the illnesses together and turn that in to one big score. It’s a nonsense.

    There can’t be a real test for this. It’s an impossibly complicated concept and depends not only on your own health and future health but it depends on how the conditions are in the labour market. They claim that they can score it with a single index called – points. You scored 14 points – one point short of ‘not fit for work’. It’s an absurdity and yet all the pundits seem to think the score is believable and the problems must be teething problems and just need sorting out. My son has schizophrenia and I don’t know how he will be from day to day. They certainly can’t know.

    You can test height and weight with a score. But can you test suitability for marriage or suitability for being a parent or not being a criminal or a light house keeper and come out with a score. Of course you can’t.

    Every body is found fit for work because now they have widened the goal posts everyone is defined as able for work. It’s a trick. There isn’t a real test. It’s a cover. Computer said – oh, must be right then.

  4. Mental Disorders 101 Says:

    Coalition cracks down on IB/ESA « Carer Watch's Blog…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  5. Says:

    Support is more than a marginal issue…

    FOR nearly 10 years, Elaine Goddard has struggled to get the right help for her severely mentally ill son.He receives just 10 minutes a fortnight in support from his local health service. The 55-year-old Ms Goddard is the primary carer for her 24-year….

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