Monday, 17 March 2014

Fit for Work?

Citizen's Advice are currently in the middle of a nationwide campaign on ESA (Employment and Support Allowance).  ESA is paid to people who are unable to work due to disability and frequently the decisions that have been made about who does and doesn't qualify have been wrong leading to stressful reconsiderations and appeals.  Many people have died after wrongly being found fit for work.  Others have committed suicide due to incorrect decisions and/or the stress of the process.  Citizen's Advice's campaign is called Fit for Work because they hope that if implemented the changes they're calling for will help make ESA fit for work (i.e. fit for purpose).

The campaign is calling for:

  • The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) should listen to evidence from the health and social care professionals who know you best.
  • The medical evidence required to make your case should be provided free of charge.
  • The companies running the work capability assessments should be held accountable for poor quality assessments or bad customer service.
  • The DWP should continue to pay people ESA while a second opinion is given on their application.

They are doing this in a variety of ways but I wanted to blog about one of them

CABs generate evidence about problems we see.  And they have thousand and thousands of pieces relating to ESA if the evidence submitted just by the bureau I volunteer at is anything to go by (I'm both an adviser and a social policy coordinator so most of the evidence we generate I see before it gets sent to Citizen's Advice head office.).  Those pieces are great for facts.  What when wrong.  When did it go wrong.  How did that affect the client?  But they aren't so good at the more human side of it, how did it make them feel? How did it effect their health?  What happened next, how long did it take to resolve and how did that affect the client? (mostly because in my experience at least we rarely find out the long term outcome)

Citizen's Advice are looking for as many people as possible to share their own stories of ESA in their own words. What it means to live the ESA process. Whether they claim it, they volunteer for a CAB and have helped clients claim it, they've supported friends or family through the process or whatever reason.

 These stories are being gathered on their blog and through the #FitForWork hashtag on twitter.  More stories are still needed and can be submitted here.

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