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The flaws in the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) system are so grave that simply "rebranding" the assessment used to determine eligibility for ESA (the Work Capability Assessment (WCA)) by appointing a new contractor will not solve the problems, says the Work and Pensions Committee in a report published today.

The Committee calls on the Government to undertake a fundamental redesign of the ESA end-to-end process to ensure that the main purpose of the benefit – helping claimants with health conditions and disabilities to move into employment where this is possible for them – is achieved. This will take some time, but the redesign should be completed before the new multi-provider contract is tendered, which is expected to be in 2018.

In the meantime, the Committee recommends that DWP implements a number of other changes in the shorter-term to ensure better outcomes and an improved service for claimants. These include:

  • DWP taking overall responsibility for the end-to-end ESA claims process, including taking decisions on whether claimants need a face-to-face assessment, rather than this decision being made by the assessment provider.

  • DWP proactively seeking “supporting evidence” on the impact of a claimant’s condition or disability on their functional capacity, rather than leaving this primarily to claimants, who often have to pay for it. DWP should seek this evidence from the most appropriate health and other professionals, including social workers and occupational therapists, rather than relying so heavily on GPs.

  • The "descriptors" used to assess functional capability in the WCA being applied more sensitively.

  • Placing claimants with a prognosis of being unlikely to experience a change in their functional abilities in the longer-term, particularly those with progressive conditions, in the Support Group and not the WRAG.

Dame Anne Begg MP, Committee Chair, said

"Many people going through the ESA claims process are unhappy with the way they are treated and the decisions which are made about their fitness for work. The current provider of the WCA, Atos, has become a lightning rod for all the negativity around the ESA process and DWP and Atos have recently agreed to terminate the contract early.

"But it is DWP that makes the decision about a claimant’s eligibility for ESA – the face-to-face assessment is only one part of the process. Just putting a new private provider in place will not address the problems with ESA and the WCA on its own.

"We are therefore calling for a number of changes which can be made to improve ESA in the short-term, while also recommending a longer-term, fundamental redesign of the whole process.

"We hope that the new Minister for Disabled People, who was appointed last week, will respond positively to our constructive recommendations for improving the ESA process."

One of the key issues which the Report identifies is that ESA is not achieving its purpose of helping people who could work in the short to medium term to move back into employment.

Read the full report on the Parliament website here


#11 Matata2011 2014-07-28 01:19
Pse , pse PODCAST Dunkun Barks LBC extremely fantastic debate on Disability Issues & the ignorance of the Definition of Disability, just finished, also read the Disability Hate Crime CPS Policy under Sec 146 CJA When it applies,Rise up to your Rights.:-)
+1 #10 Louise Bachelor 2014-07-27 20:50
I think it is about time that they started to listen to what the disabled are saying at last, if your condition is diagnosed with no chance of a cure or it improving then those groups of people should be put in the support group and left there without the constant harassment they currently receive.Why keep testing them? In the hope that maybe they can catch them out with one question or a descriptor by twisting words and making assumptions. Leave us alone please we deserve to at least keep our dignity.
+2 #9 Paul Richards 2014-07-26 21:19
Hi angela - you are right with your observations once again.
Hi peter p: Your's is a very good report as to what you have actually experienced at the hands of the N.H.S. - Our hearts go out to you.
What you say that you have had to put up with is a total disgrace - however, if you were rich, you could access all of this, and more if you were prepared to pay for it. One procedure for the poor and another for the rich! This country is rapidly becoming a shameful disgrace.
+4 #8 angela 2014-07-24 08:04
Just another report and a complete waste of time nothing will stop this government it is hell bent on stopping as much benefit as it can no matter what the human cost
+1 #7 blue peter 2014-07-23 23:48
This N.H.S merry- go -round results in continued unnecessary pain/Loss of millions of pounds and also in many cases resulting in someone’s conditions deteriorating possibly beyond help/ OK now you've made it to the consultant. How happy you are as he/she comes across as the only person in a whole year that has had any idea what you HAVE been talking about..Yippee you have now survived and undergone 365 days of running the gauntlet and you feel that you are at last getting some sort of recognition of your health problems which let’s face it may have been better treated from the start. I could now tell you all about the next 4yrs of having everyone except the cleaner sticking a needle in my back.. (I WIL SPARE U THAT) REAL YES..Cynical a little I admit but then again I think I have earned that right. Seems NOW my condition has become so complex that surgery is not now an option. (At least I am spared having to make what I can only imagine must be a very difficult decision to make)
#6 blue peter 2014-07-23 23:47
PART 2.....Because a consultant is the only person that can ask for that much needed Diagnostic M.R.I scan? And you will not even get near a Consultant for at least a year (Not enough of them and the few available split their time between Private and NHS patients) in South U.K. at least..The physiotherapist have an important role to play in the N.H.S but that role must not be abused by N.I.C.E in delaying people from seeking the help of a consultant at the point of need. Delay can only result in deterioration of what could have been a manageable condition. (IF NEEDS MUST THEN LET’S PLEASE BE OPEN AND HONEST ABOUT THIS. BUT PLEASE STOP ACTING AS IF THIS IS THE RIGHT WAY FORWARD PLAINLY IT IS NOT) (IF THESE POLICYS WERE MADE BY PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY USED THE NHS THEMSELVES THEN I AM SURE A LOT WOULD BE SO DIFFERENT)
#5 blue peter 2014-07-23 23:46
PART 1...All I ask is that we end up with having a system that treats everyone's health condition on an individual basis. The first NHS hurdle to overcome for anyone with a health condition today is the 1year+ time scale to achieve something resembling an outline diagnosis. This process of trying to obtain a diagnosis is a minefield, a minefield that will only ever be overcome if you have the tenacity and strength of mine to obtain a up to date diagnosis. These are huge requirements for someone already using all their available strength to fight their illness and the resulting financial problems that unemployment brings not to mention the over bearing family pressures that are also a consequence. The system that is in place is geared to delay you in reaching the proper person to treat your particular condition just so the system can announce that your treatment has been started this is a very political approach to medicine and not one that benefits the needed. The system will steer you in the direction of the limited hands of the first stop physio team.(For some here lies the answer but for most it does not)For example (these are documented facts) Problem is..severe back pains..1).G.P visit..make sure you have had this problem at least 6 months other wise you are leaving with just entry level pain killers....2).. 6 months pass.... you are now ill enough to be seen by a physiotherapist who will manipulate your spine without having any idea what your problem is..(Manipulati on before diagnosis/M.R.I is a very dangerous/Contr oversial practice) But is widely used WHY
+2 #4 Paul Richards 2014-07-23 21:06
Hi all,
(I refer to the above write-up only!)
It seems that yet another 'report' has been produced by the Works & Pensions Committee - whilst I agree with all of the recommendations that they suggest, it just seems so unfortunate that these Committees can only 'advise' - they cannot directly change anything. The Government of the day does what it likes.
The recent 'BBC Parliament Debate' concisely deals with this issue - they recommended pertinent, worthwhile changes and pointed out so many wrong doings - but so far, as expected, it's still the same.
But, unfortunately, at the end of the day - this Coalition is determined to press on regardless, whilst making many sick and disabled people's lives a living hell of daily worry as to what is going to happen in the future.
They are hell bent upon their so-called Welfare Reform, against all who stand against it - even the National Audit Office and the Office for Budget Responsibility - even the Judges may be in league with them in some obscure way, allegedly producing decisions which fly totally in the face of the given evidence. I would personally have thought that this may even be 'perverting the course of justice' in some way. What all this tells me is that positive change is needed.
Why should 'non-elected' Politicians try to ruin so many lives and not be held at all responsible for their incorrect actions.
If you or me were to try to do this to the sick and disabled, we would quickly be dragged up before the Courts for 'Discrimination'.
The people and the electorate of this country desperately needs to be told the TRUTH. To date, this has not happened and for the life of me, I cannot understand why!
+2 #3 pusscatsmum 2014-07-23 20:40
Sounds interesting the review and subsequent changes they suggest for now and in the future.
However if a progressive illness/disease or disability is apparent and thus will only deteriorate, placing them in the SG is good, however, the time scale should be increased from 3 years to a much longer time span, i.e 10 years at least.
This will reduce costs to the tax payer ultimately.
+1 #2 Matata2011 2014-07-23 20:06

Interesting read & comments(*☻-☻*)
+2 #1 Matata2011 2014-07-23 16:06
Too litle to late, they really do not live in the real world, another contract provider another money wasted, gov after gov main purpose to line their pockets, as usual The disabled just like Hitler are an easy cash cow tactic "implement nonstop change after change after all they do not vote" according to them (°_°)!?(・_・;?so they think,that's how ignorant & deluded the gov is 2015, majority voters will be the discriminated disabled & families, NEVER for labour, con or lib,suprise Suprise , can't wait, keep on bashing, most will crawl to the polling stations if need be even the blind, majority are now ensuring full registered to vote, turn up will be a shock

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