Friday, August 22, 2014

‘Fit For Work’ Tests ‘Far From Satisfactory’, Says Think Tank

The highly controversial ‘fit for work’ test is “far from satisfactory” for people with mental health problems, a damning new report has found.

The report – ‘In Safe Hands Now‘ – from the centre-left think tank IPPR found that reforms to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) are ‘urgently needed’ in order to ‘ensure more decisions are correct first time around’.

The IPPR draw attention to a review of the WCA by Dr Litchfield where he compares the UK system to that used in the Netherlands. Sick and disabled people in the Netherlands are not assessed as being ‘unfit for work’ or ‘fit for work’. Instead, ‘specialist medical practitioners and vocational rehabilitation experts’ are used to determine a sick and/or disabled persons ability to work in ‘hypothetical jobs’. This is used to work out a persons ‘earning capacity’ and the level of support they will require to maintain or increase it. The system is designed to identify what sort of work a person can do, rather than simply deciding whether they are capable of working or not.

The WCA has been heavily criticised for its poor level of accuracy and for how those going through the stressful and demeaning process are ‘insensitively’ treated. Earlier this year the Work and Pensions Select Committee said that the WCA is so flawed it should be scrapped and completely replaced.