A consultation on disability benefits assessments are long overdue for those who have suffered the current Work Capability Assessment (WCA) process.
The WCA assessment system currently assesses a person’s ability to work. It then categorises people on whether they are unable to work at all or if they are potentially capable of some work. After changes brought in by the coalition Government in 2011, The Labour party as well as disability charities and campaigners have long argued that the changes to these assessments no longer take into account the daily realities of life for those with physical disabilities and mental health issues, especially where symptoms can differ from day to day.
I know from helping many disabled constituents just how cruel the current processes have been. This and the recent benefit cuts for people in work-related activity groups by £30 a week under the Tories in Government has caused huge amounts of anxiety and stress.
Statistics show that 59% of the appeals made by those found fit to work have had the decision overturned, showing the scale of incorrect decisions being made in the first place. In fact, ever since key changes were made by the Coalition Government in July 2013, the percentage of overturned decisions has been greater than those upheld in every single month. We need a system that gets it right first time.
I also welcome the news that those with severe and chronic health conditions who are clearly not going to get better will no longer be forced to be retested every six months. This is something Labour politicians have long called for.
We need a system which identifies people’s barriers to work in a far more personalised way than the current system. Offering appropriate support to help people back to work whilst ensuring that those unable to continue to receive the support they need would help.