Independent reviewer of WCA said it was not fit for roll-out

When the Coalition government rolled ESA out nation-wide we were assured that ESA was fit for purpose, and that the independent reviewer (then Professor Harrington) had confirmed this. What we were told, by the then Employment Minister Mr Grayling, was that Professor Harrington had said, “I believe the system is in sufficient shape for you to proceed with incapacity benefit reassessment.”

But Sue Marsh, disability rights campaigner, was not convinced by this. In her own words, “Harrington was clearly an intelligent man who had made thoughtful and intelligent suggestions for improving the assessments. I could never understand why he agreed to put the most vulnerable claimants through a failing test.

So she decided to ask him.

And this is the response she got:

“To your question:

I NEVER—repeat–NEVER agreed to the IB migration. I would have preferred that it be delayed but by the time I said that, the political die had been cast.

I then said that I would review progress of that during my reviews.

The decision was political.

I could not influence it.



As Sue said, I’d say that’s very clear. Professor Harrington did not agree to the roll-out of ESA to Incapacity Benefit claimants.

Just last week a report revealed that Atos assessors do, in practice, face targets to keep the percentage of claimants awarded ESA low. A judge ruled that the WCA discriminates against people with mental health conditions. Another judge ruled that a physiotherapist has no expertise to comment on the abilities of a person with mental health conditions. A study on the descriptors used for ESA found that alternative descriptors (albeit based on the flawed WCA model) resulted in more information being gathered, higher satisfaction from both the HCP and the claimant, and more claimants being found to have limited capability for work. The People’s Review of the Work Capability Assessment reports multiple evidence that ESA does not work, as does a related report, also by the Spartacus Network, on the failings of ESA.

ESA now faces massive backlogs for both the original assessment and then for appeal. Appeal success rates are rising, and currently stand at 42%. Just 25% of those told they are fit for work are in work 12-18 months later.

In the face of all this evidence, can the government really say that the Work Capability Assessment is working?

5 thoughts on “Independent reviewer of WCA said it was not fit for roll-out

  1. Pingback: Ministers ‘ignored advice on inhumane fit-for-work tests’ « Derby People's Assembly

  2. Since 28th October people who wish to appeal their decision if they think it is not correct, need to have a Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) before being able to lodge an appeal. During the MR period these people are not allowed to claim sickness benefit, but must sign onto Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). If they cannot show that they available for work they will not be able to claim JSA and therefore, will not receive any benefit at all. All of these people will have valid “fit notes”. I would like to know why the Government has decided to do this as the amount payable to people who are in the appeal process and those who claim JSA is £71.70, meaning there is no difference to the public purse, as it seems to me to be a cynical attempt to stop people appealing,

  3. So very sad that the government will have to bring back the workhouse soon .Perhaps this is what they wont .We had a good country I was proud of not now ,anybody could get sick god help them

  4. While my own experience of ESA was a positive one, yes I am the lucky one who it actually helped, I am very aware that for the vast majority it is causing undue stress and distress. It is clear that IDS has absolutely no interest in care or compassion for those in need due to illness or disability. It is time that teh government took a step back and looked again at teh damage they are doing to people who have enough to contend with just getting through from day to day. Hearing of the people who are taking their own lives due to their pressure becoming intolerable truly breaks my heart. The Conservatives stance seems to me very Dickensian, with them wanting the sick to hurry and die to decrease the surplus population. In this the 21st century this attitude is utterly unacceptable and abhorrent and I urge government to think again before destroying any more lives with their ill thought out benefit reforms. The thing they should be putting their efforts into is the closing of tax law loop holes and the collection of the taxes that they admit they are missing out on, as Cameron said yesterday in a speech (see Yahoo news) the sum officially is £55bn, with others estimating it to be double this. If they acted on that issue then no cuts or changes would be needed and our nation would be much better off, but they do not wish to do this as they benefit from ‘arrangements’ with the companies in question or will do so in the future with directors and gifts after they leave office. Time for a real chance for the future. In the next elections, local and national I urge you all to vote independent and get your friends and family to do the same. Lets get the parties out of politics as they no longer represent the people as they should but rather they support the positions and ideology of corporate America.

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