Tuesday 7 September 2010

ESA: All About Appearances

More concern this week from disabled people's organisations and charities, particularly in relation to ESA and its medical tests.


It's interesting to see a case highlighted in the press that relates to people with mental health problems - but the case itself shows the horrific effects that these tests, and the way they are administrated, are having on claimants. A woman with mental health problems had evidence from her doctor and psychiatrist ignored, and was found fit for work. She then attempted suicide. As Lisy noted in her recent article here, on the human cost of benefit cuts, attacks on claimants from both the media and the government have very real consequences for people's lives.

Concerningly, the Guardian article notes that "Charities say people who are not in visible distress are often wrongly being found fit for work." This is an issue that seems likely to affect increasing numbers of people. How many of us actually 'look' ill, or generally fit the presentation stereotypes of our particular conditions? I'd have thought a minority. And with even those who are acutely and/or very seriously unwell being turned down for ESA, there doesn't seem to be much hope for anyone.

But perhaps most concerning is how little the government seems to be responding to these ongoing concerns expressed by organisations. There are 'issues', they admit. They claim there have been changes made by ministers, presumably to the way the tests are carried out, but without making it clear what these changes have involved. More accountability and transparency might be the first step if they want to regain the trust of claimants. It seems they're more interested in how things look to the mythical taxpayer, though. Once again, it's all about appearances.

* * * * *

There's still time to present your evidence about the Work Capability Assessment to the ESA review board. This could be something as simple as a short account of your experience of the WCA. You can e-mail wca.evidence@dwp.gsi.gov.uk with your evidence, but you must do this by 10th September. The current Benefits and Work newsletter has news that the review board would also like to hear what changes claimants would like to see made to the WCA process, so make suggestions via that e-mail address if you have some. Benefits and Work suggests that it would be good for claimants to be allowed to record their medical assessments, for example.


  1. That "issues" quote disturbs me too. People dying is not "issues", it's panic, stop, crisis, oh shit lets sort this out. Why is it ok for people to die just because they're disabled?

  2. phew what a job posting on here