MPs call for redesign of ESA

Today, the Work and Pension’s Committee called for a fundamental redesign of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) in its ‘First Report Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Work Capability Assessments’.  The Committee claimed simply rebranding the assessment by appointing a new contractor to carry it out would not solve the problems with the assessment process.

Rosanna Slinger, Co-Chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium, said:

“The Work and Pensions Select Committee is absolutely right to call for a fundamental overhaul of the ‘fit for work’ test. Since the test was introduced six years ago, disabled people have been telling us about the devastating impact this flawed process has had on their lives. Some people have told us they have ended up with very little money to live on because the test hasn’t recognised they cannot work. Others have ended up in pain and under severe stress during the test process.

“It is heartening to hear the Committee say that it isn’t just that assessment provider Atos is doing the tests badly – it is the test itself. Fundamentally, it is unfit for purpose.

“We are broadly supportive of the Committee’s findings and trust this report will give all parties a renewed impetus to get the assessment process right for disabled people.”

Claire Nurden, Co-Chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium and Senior Policy & Campaigns Officer at the MS Society, said:

“The Committee make a number of common sense recommendations that, if urgently implemented, could make a real difference to the lives of disabled people, would save the department money in the longer term and help to reduce delays. We call on the government to act on these now.

“Examples include making better use of information from professionals that know claimants the best, and putting a stop to unnecessarily frequent, expensive and onerous reassessments that do nothing but cause ill and disabled people vast amounts of stress.”

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