Sneaky Work Capability Assessment rules judge you fit for work based on imaginary help

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There are new regulations for Employment Support Allowance about to come into force on the 28th of January. These regulations were proposed only six weeks before they will come into force, leaving very little time for the impact to be considered.

Worse, these regulations make drastic changes to the assumptions made during the assessment that will result in even more people being refused sickness benefits or told to take part in work-related activity.

ESA SOS! Refusing help

Doc Hackenbush explains the change (Click to enlarge)

The two big changes are:

An assessor can consider what mobility aids, equipment, medical treatments or medicines might help the claimant return to work, and then, without consulting them as to whether the change is suitable, they can judge them fit for work or for work related activity based on them making that change. This completely ignores things like side-effects of medication, suitability of adaptions and mobility aids, or even if such help is available to the individual. This could already happen to some extent, such as with wheelchairs, but will now apply to a far wider range of changes. This also raises the huge problem of medical treatment without consent, since refusing to take a drug that could help a person return to work, even for very good reasons, could lead to benefits being withdrawn.

The second huge change is to how the the assessment considers the relationship between mental and physical health conditions. Where previously any disability or restriction could be applied to any activity, whether it was caused by mental problems or physical problems. These new regulations will strictly separate the two such that one set of questions considers purely physical restrictions, and another set purely mental restrictions. You may be completely unable to perform a task due to mental illness, but be considered able to physically and therefore able to full stop. This equally applies to side effects of medicines. For medicines that treat mental health conditions, only the impact of side effects ON mental health will be considered. Crippling physical side effects caused by treatment for mental health will be completely ignored when deciding that a person can work.

These changes will pull the rug from under the feet (or wheels) of hundreds of thousands more people who are struggling to live, never mind to earn a wage. Make no mistake; whatever the intention of these changes, this is a cut in support.

What you can do

The clearest analysis of these changes that I have read is from Ekklesia. Briefing on ESA Regulations [Ekklesia] I recommend that you read this.

Please write to your MP urgently to oppose these new regulations. You can find and contact your email through Write to Them. My own communication with my MP will be available on this blog later today.

Please share this and other blogs about this subject on Twitter with the hashtag #esaSOS as well as on Facebook and anywhere else you think suitable. A tweet of your own will have far more impact than a retweet.

Please also add your signature to the War On Welfare petition to call for a cumulative impact assessment of this government’s welfare reforms.

Further Reading

DWP guidance on the changes: Memo DMG 1/13 [PDF]

The Employment and Support Allowance (Amendment) Regulations 2012 [legislation.gov.uk]

Diary of a benefit scrounger: ESA SOS

Thousands of disabled and sick people will be hit by new ESA/WCA changes [Ekklesia]

 

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  • Mick

    to answer your comment according to you then who should assess fitness to work. according to u everyone on benefits is not fit for work which both of us know is compete bs.

    if you think it should be a doctor think twice there are plenty of them that think there are plenty gaming the system and they may be worse than ATOS as they can see all the bs people come up with not to work.

    you dont seem to be doing too bad out of the benefits game given the long list of benefits plus a credit card!! i dont qualify for a credit card and i work!! no wonder those on benefits want to stay on them and have been able to for decades before being jolted out their comfort zone now finally.

    at the train station i saw a load of folk on their way to their atos medical. i know as i overheard them while they were all smoking their roll ups. they all were quite proud of how long they been ‘on the sick’ they see it as a badge of honour. one said yeah i got bad circulation i breathe toxic fumes then why do u smoke?!

    if you honestly think everyone claiming is genuine then i feel sorry for your naievty. the working population are now fed up of seeing these people have better housing and more disposable income then those that pay into the system.

    enough is enough time to say you’re on your own rather than saying ‘which benefit can i claim it should be which job can i do? also saying oh no how can i survive with no money?? d’oh get a job the rest of us do even it is worse off than being on benefits. thats the crux make work pay. hopefully finally now it will.

    • Mark R A

      2.5 million officially unemployed. Many more hidden unemployed (upto 2.6 million) – those out of work but not claiming benefits for whatever reason; too many savings, partner in work above threshold, suffering sanctions etc. 3 million more under-employed and looking for more work. So where are all these jobs that you’re encouraging the disabled to get?
      You talk of people paying into the system, but a) there are many people currently claiming who have previously paid into the system in the belief that should anything happen to them, there would be a safety net and, b) people on benefits still pay into the system. They pay tax on goods and services.
      A little more heart and a lot more thought and you might be able to put yourself in their shoes. Alas, I think that such empathy is beyond you.

    • Christine

      Mick (if that’s your real name), one day you or someone close to you may find yourself unemployed through no fault of your own or, God forbid, seriously ill or injured. Then you will find out how difficult, humiliating and soul-destroying it is to claim benefits from a system to which you have contributed all your working life, and how much of a struggle it is to live on them. Do you seriously expect people who are so ill that they can’t get out of bed to lie in their own mess and starve to death? Do you have any compassion?
      Incidentally Disability Living Allowance is paid irrespective of employment; many people, including my husband, are only able to work because of it.

      • fred 50

        I think you dont understand there are literally a huge chunk of the population that have never worked their parents never worked so too their kids this cycle has to be broken. you cant simply go on benefits from the day you leave school to day hit the grave. no country can survive like that and yet people here abuse the system like no other. the welfare system is for times of need not lifelong!

        People have to look at themselves. If you not willing to stop smoking or drinking etc why should benefits be given just so you go out and buy more fags/stella etc?? If you can find a good reason then let me know.

        • Christine

          Fred, I can only conclude that you live in a different world to me. If people on benefits are smoking and drinking (I don’t, but I’m not claiming anything either, even though I could) then they must be doing it at the expense of eating properly. Life on benefits is not easy. I don’t expect benefits to be lifelong unless the claimant is incurably ill or permanently incapacitated, and anyway most of these do their best to work. And I have a large extended family, many of whom live in London, and they pay their way. But why am I arguing with you? You are just spouting the lies that you are being fed by the media and politicians and I don’t suppose you are capable of reasoned discussion.

        • http://twitter.com/superfurryandy Andy Bean

          No, Fred, you obviously don’t understand. There is not “literally a huge chunk of the population that have (sic) never worked” – that’s utter nonsense which has been fact checked and disproved. Come back with a better argument, not just misleading govt propaganda.

    • http://twitter.com/superfurryandy Andy Bean

      I’m part of the working population, please do not assume you speak for me. What I’m fed up with is people swallowing govt and media lies. Benefits are not too high to make work pay, wages are too low and those in charge want them lower. Even allowing for that a benefit such as JSA is worth only 15% of the average wage compared to 22% 30 years ago.

  • Dave

    You cant hide democracy while the countries finances are being ripped apart by those that contribute nothing

    • http://twitter.com/superfurryandy Andy Bean

      You’re talking about politicians and bankers, right? Because to suggest that welfare benefits have caused the deficit would show complete political and economic illiteracy.

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  • fred 50

    There are jobs here just a lack of people willing to do them. Ask most employers they find Eastern european workers have a better work ethic than lazy brits. Brits sadly are more interested in what they can get from the system rather than contribute to it.

    Only the poor can afford housing in London what a joke that is?! SO to afford to live in London you need to be on benefits. Insane. Our benefits system is too generous thats why people dont want to get off them. Rather than say which job can I do its which benefit can I claim??

    UK has had it its no wonder countries like Brazil CHina etc are thriving because they dont waste time on shirkers who just want to smoke and watch Sky all day. Its up to you how you live your life, but no right to bleed others dry to live it.

    • http://twitter.com/superfurryandy Andy Bean

      Most people who live in London work. I know I do.

  • eomunda

    Some of the comments on here are disgusting. I have cerebral palsy, cannot hear, talk or walk, need someone to dress, wash and feed me and my body is wracked by painful spasms. It has taken me 1 hour to type this. Even with the reality of a carer I cannot manage simple tasks, let alone with “imaginary help!”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/gemma.peter Gemma Peter

    If they are saying that someone could return to work with the appropriate aid they should be required to either ensure that a person has that aid or better still be required to provide it.

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