Thursday 14 July 2011

Harrington Review of WCA, 2nd Call for Evidence

Professor Malcolm Harrington, author of last year's Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment, has issued his call for evidence to be considered in this year's follow up report here.

I wrote about problems with the first review back in December, and I'd suggest people read both the original report, available here, and my comments here, in order to understand what they are looking at, and how the first review fell short.

I think a particular problem with the first review was that it wrote off the concerns of many disabled people, reporting experiences that seem all too typical, as simply the result of ill-feeling from people who had been rejected for ESA and who did not understand what type of assessment they would be facing. Yet I understood exactly what the WCA would be looking at, passed, but still had exactly the same negative experiences. Worries about the casual dismissal of evidence from people who have actually experienced the WCA are exacerbated by Harrington's statement in the current Call for Evidence that "it would be helpful for the review to move beyond anecdotal evidence about individual bad experiences of the assessment". Yet as the individuals experiencing the sharp-end of the WCA how can we present anything other than our personal experiences?

The Call for Evidence asks specific questions this year, but states that general evidence will still be considered. I plan on not just answering the specific questions, but also on submitting my experiences as someone who passed, yet still faced every reported failing of the WCA. If you also understood the format of the WCA and passed, yet found your experience to be unacceptable, then I would strongly urge you to consider submitting your own experiences in order to confront Harrington with a mass of evidence that cannot simply be dismissed as resulting from 'ill-feeling' and 'misconceptions'. Equally everyone who has been faced with the WCA should think about submitting their evidence whether they passed or failed. Harrington may be inclined to dismiss evidence from those who were turned down for ESA, but he will find it very difficult to pursue that path if he finds exactly the same negative experiences being reported by people, no matter whether they passed or failed.

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