Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Spartacus take ESA Beyond the Barriers

Work for those who can

Security for those who can't

Support for all

The Spartacus network of disabled people has launched a new report that not only dissects the many flaws in ESA, and the Work Capability Assessment, but which sets out to present a proposed replacement that will serve disabled people and government both.

The report, Beyond the Barriers, opens with a sobering analysis of the ESA process by the disabled people who have gone through it, with fully 50% saying that ESA causes stress, often to the point of fear.

The Work Capability Assessment is analysed, and beyond all the faults of structure, failure to seek medical evidence, and inadequately trained assessors, it notes that the assessment is irrelevant to work, as no attempt is made to discover what work an individual is supposed to be capable of doing - something most people will agree is a fairly fundamental failing.

While other reports have identified the same failings, where this report goes beyond those that have gone before is that it proposes a complete replacement for the ESA process, an utterly new process that carries out all of the assessment of disability that ESA and WCA were supposed to provide and never did, but which does it in a way that never loses focus on the need to protect the disabled person from being harmed by the process, the need to capture actual medical information, not the WCA’s Daily Mail parody of medical information, and which remains focused throughout on just what form of work the disabled person will, or will not, be able to do. There’s even the radical assertion that someone assessing a disability should actually know something about it.

Recognising that this will take time to implement, the report also proposes an interim solution to protect disabled people undergoing assessment before the replacement system becomes operational.

Perhaps the most radical proposal, but one completely in accord with other initiatives in the disability and care system, is that disabled people themselves should assume control of their own back-to-work support budget.

A report that doesn’t just expose all the flaws of ESA, but which actually sets out to make real progress on getting disabled people back to work, what’s not to like?


  1. "Work for those who can

    Security for those who can't"

    A line that could have come direct from the DWP.

    Why does this review want to put sick people under more scrutiny and reject suggesting GPs should make the final decision?

    1. Perhaps because a lot of disabled people have problems with their GPs. Mine still regularly dredges up potential diagnoses that were dismissed over a decade ago, and that's pretty good in comparison to many I've heard of - descriptions which include GPs denying that specific disabilities exist, never mind whether or not the individual patient has them. If we want a consistent level of assessment, then it needs to be done by an organisation applying a defined standard in a fair and equitable manner. Reports from GPs or consultants are absolutely vital and not requiring them is a major failing of the current system, but that's a very different thing from leaving the decision in the hands of the GP.