Sunday, November 16, 2014

DPAC's Response to Labour’s WCA Proposals (again)

Benefits and Work website yesterday published an email sent by Labour which explains their proposals to improve WCA.

It is a summary of previously announced proposals but we thought we would take this opportunity to restate, perhaps in even more strident terms our position with respect to Labour’s WCA Proposals.

We have done this many times of course, both on the blog and in direct communication with Labour but nothing ever seems to sink in.

Labours proposals are:

1. We will start by transforming the way the WCA is designed to make it more effective at helping disabled people into work. With Labour, disabled people would receive a copy of the assessor’s report of how their health condition may affect their ability to work, and information about the support that is available in their local area to help them – a first vital step towards a more integrated system of support.

2. Secondly, we would continue to produce an independent review of the WCA, and ask the Office for Disability Issues to support an independent scrutiny group of disabled people to work together with the independent reviewer to assess whether the test is being conducted in a fair and transparent way. We will commit to responding to the recommendations of this report.

3. Finally, a Labour government will go further in ensuring that the assessments get it right first time. We would make sure that in the new system there would be clear penalties for poor performance by assessors, measured both on the number of times decisions are overturned by DWP decision makers, and the number of times they are overturned on appeal.

These changes are falling very short of being crucial.

First they are very vague, and do not address the very high number of ESA overturned decisions by tribunals or even by DWP own reconsideration process (before mandatory reconsiderations were introduced).

The reviews that Labour is committed to produce have been discredited. Professor Harrington, by deciding to talk about his misgivings about moving IB claimants onto ESA only, after he lost his lucrative job for DWP when he could have spoken up before, Dr Litchfield because he devised the Mental health descriptors and was very unlikely to challenge them later in his review.

What disabled people have been waiting for, is a sign from Labour frontbench that disabled people have been unfairly targeted by cuts, but also mistreated, bullied, abused and driven to suicide.

They are still waiting.

One Labour backbencher suggested that one way to improve things very quickly was to pause the reassessments. This suggestion from Sheila Gilmore is welcome and it is surprising that it was not followed up by Rachel Reeves or Kate Green.

The focus on disabled people working, contributing to the economy shows that Labour, like the Tories only see people as economical variables, not people who deserve to live a decent life.

Lastly, if you still have some illusions, sanctioning disabled people wasn’t introduced by the Tories, it began under the last Labour Government.

These WCA Proposals from Labour are “figleaf policies”, intended only to do the barest minimum needed to avoid embarrassment for Labour. It hasn’t worked.  

So here it is again, our response to Labour on WCA (maybe this time it will sink in):-

Are you taking the Piss?


The WCA is a cause of stress and hardship to disabled people, it is inaccurate, causes harm, and it DOESN’T EVEN GET DISABLED PEOPLE INTO WORK.

The WCA has caused people to commit suicide and your WCA will continue to cause people to commit suicide.

You are still planning to use LIMA, a computer program to MAKE CATASTROPHICALLY WRONG DECISIONS, TIME AND TIME AND TIME AGAIN.

You are still planning to bully people who CAN NOT WORK with repeat assessments.

Will you stop mandatory consideration? If so how are you going to handle the flood of appeals from wrong decisions? If not, you are no better than the Tories.
More “Harrington” Reviews of the WCA? Don’t make us laugh.

and after all that, after the fear, the misery, the anxiety, the hardship and the suicides, your WCA won’t get disabled people into work because THERE ARE NO JOBS AVAILABLE for us.


And when a job is available, we can’t get there because WE DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO TRANSPORT,

DPAC’s response to Labour’s WCA proposals in a nutshell:

SCRAP THE WCA & ESA and Scrap Sanctions for all.

Then come up with something much much better that addresses our real needs, not Daily Mail headlines.

Has it sunk in yet?