Sunday, January 18, 2015
Taking The WCA Back To The Bad Old Days, Why Sick and Disabled Claimants Should Fear A Labour Government
Shadow Minister for Disabled People Kate Green has pledged to return the despised Work Capability Assessment (WCA) back to its “original purpose” raising fears that gains made by capaigners over the last few years could be lost as Labour attempt to rehabilitate the despised tests for sickness or disability benefits.
The introduction of the Work Capability Assessment was based on the tabloid myth that hundreds of thousands of people were faking their health conditions and were really able to work. This lie took hold despite the UK not having significantly more people unable to work due to sickness or disability then other comparable economies. Yet still the abuse persisted from politicians of all parties. In 2011 Ed Miliband even attempted to blame benefit claimants for the financial crisis claiming many of those unable to work were “ripping off society”.
On the ground however a very different picture was emerging. As early as March 2010 Citizens Advice published a damning report (PDF) backed by disability charities revealing the horrific suffering the WCA was causing. It turned out that most people were not lying about their health condition after all and tragic stories began appearing in the media of poverty, homelessness, ill health and even suicides linked to the new sickness benefit regime. Huge numbers of decisions made by Atos and the DWP to remove benefits were being over-turned at appeal. Protests against the process began to spread throughout the UK. And slowly, the number of people found fit for work, began to fall (as can be seen in the above graph which represents new claims, not re-assessments)...