DWP’s ‘failing assessment system is increasing poverty and worsening mental health’

Mon,27 June 2022
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The Government’s “failing” and “pseudo-scientific” benefits assessment system is increasing disability poverty and worsening claimants’ mental health, the Disability News Service reports.

Professor Ben Barr, from the University of Liverpool, and Dr Ben Baumberg Geiger, from the University of Kent, were giving evidence on 22 June as part of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee’s inquiry into the assessment system.

Both academics have carried out influential research into the assessments.

Dr Baumberg Geiger described the work capability assessment (WCA) as “pseudo-scientific”, and said it assessed people’s impairments “without any transparency or evidence” in the way that it “over-rules people’s accounts of their own lives”.

The assessment for personal independence payment (PIP) he said, was a “crude gesture towards some of the very high costs that people face, but it doesn’t come close to covering them”.

Dr Baumberg Geiger added that: “There is a lack of transparency and evidence and rigour about what goes on in these assessments and their link to the things they are meant to be assessing" and "no evidence base linking the PIP criteria to the costs that people face that the DWP has produced."

He said it was essential that disabled people could trust the assessment system but that it was “hard to trust a system that says it’s going to assess your capability for work but then doesn’t, really”.

While he had researched assessment systems in other countries, he said that the UK’s WCA “does stand out as being particularly bad, causing particular unhappiness and distress, and being particularly difficult to link to any sensible conception of what it should be assessing”.

Professor Barr, who works in applied public health research, said there had been an increase in the disability poverty gap - the difference in the proportion of disabled and non-disabled people living in poverty - since 2013, particularly among disabled people who are out of work.

He said this was likely a result of reduced access to disability benefits and those benefits being set at too low a level.

He added that the WCA “does seem to be failing”, with research suggesting it had not had a “positive impact on employment” among disabled people and had increased their risk of poverty.

Source and for further information see DWP’s ‘failing assessment system is increasing poverty and worsening mental health’ available from disabilitynewsservice.com.

See also our news story DR UK, Disability Forum England and DBC respond to Health and Disability Green Paper.