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Work Capability Test Not Fit for Purpose

08 February 2013

News release

Disability Rights UK welcomes the report published by the Public Accounts Committee on the Work Capability Assessment. They found that the work capability test is causing fear and distress, it is not accurate enough and it raises serious concerns about value for money.

Liz Sayce OBE, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK, says:

“We welcome the fact that a cross party committee of MPs agrees with what disabled people have been saying so strongly.

Fear does not help job seeking. People out of work for many years need encouragement and support to build confidence.”

38 per cent of appeals succeed. There is no evidence this test predicts whether someone can or cannot work.

On value for money, the committee says Government could make more use of sanctions in its contract management to incentivise ATOS getting it right first time.

Liz Sayce OBE says:

“The millions spent on appeals would be far better spent on personalised employment support that works for each individual. The work programme is not resulting in disabled people moving from ESA or incapacity benefits into work to any significant degree.

We need personalised employment support, not tests causing anxiety and distress.

We need a 'real world' test that takes account of barriers to work - whether employers make adjustments, whether people have the support they need to work.

We need sanctions linked to the rate of successful appeals against decisions.”

“Government has made some changes to the test, but looking forward we see more problems ahead. Disabled people are amazed that the largest part of the new PIP assessments will be carried out by the same company criticised by the public accounts committee. We are concerned that from October disabled people deemed fit for work may be placed on JSA while they consider an appeal. And most of all we are concerned about the cumulative effect of cuts in benefits, housing benefits and social care - on a group of people already twice as likely to live in poverty than non-disabled people and facing huge disadvantage and isolation.”

Further info

For further information on disabled people and the work capability assessment for media purposes only please call 020 7566 0125

Editor’s notes

1. Disability Rights UK is a national pan-disability organisation, led, run and controlled by disabled people, with disabled people making up at least three-quarters of its board members. We work to create a society where everyone with lived experience of disability or health conditions can participate equally as full citizens.

2. The Public Accounts Committee’s report can be found here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/news/contract-management-of-medical-services/

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