On Monday evening, two shows – Dispatches on Channel 4 and Panorama on the BBC – exposed the problems with the current Work Capability Assessment system for Employment and Support Allowance (the out of work disability benefit.)

Here’s what the DBC had to say about it:

“The shocking images on Monday’s Panorama and Dispatches programmes confirmed concerns that we have raised for years – the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is seriously flawed. Although the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) denies that targets are set, serious questions have been raised about the working practices in place, which set de facto targets based on arbitrary assumptions by the DWP.

The independent reviewer Professor Harrington admitted that some people will suffer by going through a ‘patchy’ test that needs further improvement. This cannot be tolerated, and as the investigations showed, is having devastating consequences for vulnerable and ill people.

A fundamental review of the Work Capability Assessment is urgently needed. It is deeply flawed and fails to recognise the real barriers that disabled people face in obtaining and retaining paid work.

Furthermore, with the DWP expected to announce multi-million pound contracts for the private sector to run assessments for the new benefit replacing Disability Living Allowance later this week, it’s vital that lessons are learned from the disastrous WCA so the same mistakes are not repeated.”  Hayley Jordan, DBC co-chair

9 thoughts on “Benefits assessments exposed – DBC comment

  1. and what about someone like me who was unable to attend work assessment as I was unable to climb down my stairs, they claimed they sent a letter which I never received and all benefit has been stopped. I have appealed but how do I live meanwhile? I live on my own whilst I have friends all my family are over 300 miles away. I moved so I could afford a home outright as was unable to work because of a consultant diagnosed condtion. I subsequently was diagnosed with cancer too. My DLA came to an end and despite reapplying have still yet to hear. Strange how they can be so decisive when it comes to stopping money and yet so indesisive when granting benefit.

  2. You poor woman, how on earth are you getting by with no income? Have you found any legal help? Going to your MP might get you some sort of benenfit to tide you over during the appeals process – which can take up to twelve months’ We’re both fighting against a badly designed, cruel, hugely expensive and faceless bureacracy. Even though so many people speak out against it nothing changes, nothing That too shocks me. Chris Grayling said it is ‘tough love’!! The arrogance of the man!! I’m still gobsmacked a week later.it does indicate the mentality of those running it. Best of luck to you, really.

  3. I think it is not so much that lessons should be learned – more that the whole project should be stopped, as it was fundamentally and wholly designed to reduce payments to people with disabilities, under the pretence of being a genuine assessment of capabilities and needs. Tweaking it to make it relate more to mental health disabilities, or in other ways, will not resolve the problems. It is I think the most wicked and cruel of the coalition government’s reforms, except for maybe the process of privatising the NHS. I am aghast that there has not been a major reaction against these reforms by a substantial proportion of society. It is not a minority issue as some seem to think – what kind of society treats people with long-term illnesses and disabilities like this?

  4. I have read these comments and think it is so degrading treating ill people it such a disgraceful way .There are some out there who know how to work the system and making it bad for the genuine cases . Some medical problems are not understood some people have to manage their ailments by learning what they are able to do each day and how far can they walk with pain that still does not make them fit for work .

  5. This so called government has got it in for the disabled people and it showed in both programmes that targets are set. I still get angry about them it shows that they the government are turning people against the disabled,I had to retire through ill health from my job on the council in 2008 and my conditions have got worse since then and without the help from my wife and daughter who look after me I would not be able to do anything. I am 59 next month and I will never work again and I hate this government for making the disabled feel like secondhand people!!!!!

  6. I have read your comment and do feel sorry for you it must cost this goverment a lot of money due to a lot of disabled people who are not scoring enough points and are classed fit for work they are winning their appeals . My daughter worked in the medical profession she had to give up due to pain in many joints and swollen feet she was passed fit for work but won her appeal that was so degrading i went with her and found it very degrading just hope she does not have do another one .Benefits are granted for 1 year and then another medical the questions they ask comes off the computer ridiculous. Best wishes to you Trevor so sorry you are not able to have a normal life i am 74 and thankful i can still look after myself take care keep smiling . xx

  7. nothing i have read surprises me, approximately 6 years ago i had a work related interview, suffering from arthritis, carpel tunnel, back pain AND registered hard of hearing, although the dr. tried mumbling as i left, which of course i couldn’t hear, but being genuine didn’t realise was a “test ” until my husband told me, left me feeling very stupid, but i was then assessed unfit for work. last november i had a work related interview ( by a nurse ) who obviously thought she knew better than my gp and the rhumatolagist i had seen ,i was judged fit for work, approx 2 weeks later x-rays on my hand showed severe degeneration, my arthritis which affects knees hips hands is worse than 6 years ago and now is starting to affect toes and ankles. i am still awaiting the result of appeal 9 months later, and i know i couldn’t work in either lifting ,repetative , standing or sitting all day employment.
    i also found the nurses attempts at “catching me out ” by leaving me stranded on the examination table embarrassing and demeaning, i am not a lazy person, i went to work at 15, i have always done manuel repetative and heavy lifting jobs, no wonder i now have osteoarthritis, the pain never goes and what i would give for just one good nights sleep, instead of having to take yet more pain killers to get me through until morning in the middle of the night.
    this government are going after all the wrong people, a drug addict gets free methadone, i have to pay for my prescriptions, and nothing i have was self inflicted, unless of course through hard work !!

  8. I think some of the biggest harm has been done by the suggestions by Mind and the other charities it has worked with for an over-complicated way of assessing mental illness.

    We don’t need something complicated. We need more descriptors we can score points for and we need them fairly drafted. There are words relating to frequency in the mental descriptors that aren’t there in the physical descriptors.

    There’s nothing there about general mental distress. If you can’t walk because of pain, you get points for it, if you can’t do something because of emotional pain, you don’t, except for a very narrow selection of tasks.

    There’s nothing there relating to perception of reality and nothing to do with things like mania and OCD and OCPD that can make you overdo things instead of struggling to do them at all. You can gain points for not being able to make social contact but not for making too much social contact.

  9. Sue,
    sorry to intrude but there are many many sub directories of the descriptors, you need to request the full listing, which they don’t tell you you can get a copy of!, but break down things like cognition.
    I was awarded points for ‘altered states of consciousness’, which carried between 6-15 points on it’s own, and qualified me due to the amount of codeine I have to take every 3 hours every day and have done since 1993 for a spinal injury.
    The point here being that, whilst often I am able to understand fully, talk, hear, rationalise etc fully normally, once my medication kicks in, I’m completely lost and bewildered.
    The trouble is that when you fill the original form in, there’s nothing to distinguish severity at each stage with any realism. When you fail the medical you get told what points were awarded, but when you pass the assessment as ‘fit to work’ they THEN tell you on what grounds they decided to judge us, which is where i found the extra information available that they don’t initially tell us about.
    I wish you and everyone else every luck, and may those of us who really need the help recieve it.

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