Monday 13 December 2010

WCA Review: Yet More Questions

I had thought I had thoroughly deconstructed the WCA Review, but in reading another DWP document I found that a major assumption in the WCA Review actually lies at odds with the DWP's own published findings.

In the WCA Review, Professor Malcolm Harrington states:

  • "Support is available on JSA that if explained to claimants could allay some of their fears about “failing” the WCA as well as helping claimants to use the WCA to take a first step back towards work and the positive effects that this brings.  However, more information on this support is required to reassure claimants of what follows the WCA." (Chapter 4, Point 10)

Yet in Realising Potential: A Vision for Personalised Conditionality and Support, Professor Paul Gregg states:

  • "To offer an effective and supportive service to all of the Work-Ready group the Review believes that more needs to be done within JSA to properly support people with more moderate but still limiting health conditions or disabilities. This is both those who report a health problem whilst on JSA and those who have been claiming ESA but have not met the WCA threshold and have subsequently claimed JSA.
    The relative weakness of the JSA regime in helping such people back to work is well documented. Compared to the overall JSA population, those who claim JSA after a period of time of IB/ ESA have a notably slower off-flow rate and are five times more likely to flow off into inactivity or to try and claim another benefit again, and only half as likely to move into work as other claimants." (Chapter 5, report's emphasis)


  • "The changes to the threshold that have accompanied the introduction of the WCA are likely to mean that the jobseeking regime will have to deal with greater numbers of people with a genuinely limiting health condition or disability. Much of this increase will come from those with a higher level of impairment than the regime has previously had to deal with.
    Therefore, the Review recommends that an immediate focus is placed on ensuring the JSA regime offers more tailored, appropriate and personalised support for those people in the Work-Ready group with a health condition or disability" (Chapter 5)

Now I find Professor Gregg's report, with its punitive language and lack of any understanding of, or empathy for, the impact of conditionality on individual disabled people to be particularly repellent, but if, looking specifically at JSA support for disabled people, it says the equivalent of 'it's terrible, even for comparatively simple disabilities it is 5 times worse than for non-disabled people' yet Professor Harrington, talking about precisely the same thing without looking at it in detail, says that disabled people shouldn't worry about the availability of support on JSA, and in fact will be reassured if they know more, then don't we have to not just worry, but raise a very large question mark over the quality and internal logic of the WCA review?

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