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In a written parliamentary answer, Lord Freud has confirmed last week’s revelation by Benefits and Work that it has now been deliberately made harder for women claimants to qualify for the support group of employment and support allowance (ESA).

In our newsletter last month, we warned readers that:

“ . . . a new scoring system has been created to decide if claimants with mental health issues can get into the support group because of a risk of harm to themselves or someone else. The system has been deliberately designed to make it more difficult for women to qualify than men.

“For example, a man with a diagnosis of depression and a history of deliberate self-harm who is unemployed – generally the case for ESA claimants – will be eligible for the support group, according to the guidance.

“But a woman in the same situation will not be eligible for the support group. Instead, she will have to also show that an additional factor – such as being homeless or divorced –applies to her.”

This has now been confirmed by Lord Freud following a parliamentary question from the Countess of Mar:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the scoring for Work Capability Assessment applicants with mental health problems has been loaded to make it more difficult for women to qualify for the support group than it is for men; and, if so, why.

Lord Freud replied:

“The criteria for eligibility for the support group in Employment and Support Allowance remains the same for men and women.

“The updated guidance for healthcare professionals on the assessment of risk in claimants with a Mental Health condition was developed with input from senior psychiatrists. It differentiates between men and women in relation to suicide risk because the suicide rate in men is significantly higher than in women.

“The guidance makes clear that the assessment of risk needs to focus both on the claimant’s health and whether the claimant could cope with work-related activity.”


#9 Sue 2015-04-04 13:03
Maybe it's time for a 'Suffragette' style group to be formed once again to remind the likes of IDS that we do have opinions, a voice and if needs be even the worst of us can and will stand up for 'our right' ... of equality ... which has already been actively fought for by many, many times before!
#8 Paul Richards 2015-03-15 20:15
Hi Acorn Antiques,
Yes many thanks for letting me know - for some reason the direct link is incorrect (it has an extra http:// that shouldn't be there!)

Your best bet is to directly insert the web address as follows:


It is an online petition by B&W contributor JayneL Linney and her friend Debbie Sayers. It is getting there - a few minutes ago it was at 5874 There's every chance that it will succeed now!
+3 #7 Acorn Antiques 2015-03-15 19:04
Only 131 signatures to go now (of 6000) to get him up before the Commons Standards Committee to answer for it all.
Please sign at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/investigate-ids-for-lies

Hi, I'm afraid the link doesn't work. Can you check and repost?
+1 #6 Paul Richards 2015-03-14 21:18
Hi all,
If you did not believe it before, then you should now!
Under the new headline 'Coalition Made Final Decisions'
then I strongly suggest that you have a look at this latest one!
All too little and all too late (for them and also for us!)
The Tories could reign supreme, but hopefully not.
The LibDems meanwhile are nothing more than 'History' & for their terrible and lamentable performance against the Tories - rightly so.
+3 #5 Paul Richards 2015-03-14 20:54
Hi all,
Everything that all of you have said is correct.
This 'Lord Freud' is an already widely 'discredited' person/adviser/ consultant. He should be ashamed to be involved in any way in saying that there should be a 'difference' in 'men & 'women'. This, in my own personal opinion is a case of blatant sex-discriminat ion. If you or me were to do it, then we would have the full force of 'British Law' fall down upon our heads.
As usual - one rule for them and one rule for us!!
Please do not forget also to vote for an investigation into the terrible and indefensible behaviour of the current 'Minister for Works & Pensions' Ian Duncan Smith. Do not let him get away with all of this.
Only 131 signatures to go now (of 6000) to get him up before the Commons Standards Committee to answer for it all.
Please sign at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/investigate-ids-for-lies
+5 #4 tazman 2015-03-14 15:58
I've said it before, and I will say it again - How can this acknowledged discrimination against women be lawful? To me, it shows that the tories are still in the dark ages for allowing this. I'm so angry and feel helpless. This in itself is more likely to push vulnerable women over the edge. I have faced abuse and sex discrimination in the work place for years and it has contributed to my mental health problems. But what do I matter, I'm just a woman.
-5 #3 ag858 2015-03-14 10:56
The title is somewhat misleading though. It should say, "Positive gender discrimination applied to Support Group entry due to epidemiological factors". Or more brazenly "Support Group entry now easier for men thought to be suicidal"?
Not "Support Group entry now harder for women", that's just media-baiting.
+3 #2 Acorn Antiques 2015-03-14 02:21
Why isn't this being jumped all over in the media? Maybe we need to be writing to newspapers, their online sites-?
+7 #1 pusscatsmum 2015-03-13 10:56
So yet another nail in the coffin for females.
They want us to work until 66 now (changed from 60) forgetting that most females raise children, do the house etc etc and go thru the change, and work full time, therefore meaning we already do more than the alloted time span re work then men. ( One of the reasons why age differentation was in place re women vs men retirement age was to quantify child rearing, family work and the change which covers 2-5 yrs = 5years) - women 60/ men65.
How on earth a mere male can now come up with the fact that women are lesser than a male in regards to mental health issues beggars belief. Skewed or what.
I think this marked change in attitude is digusting.
The annomoly is in fact that women are less inlined to go thru with a suicide because of family commitments and the majority of females that actually do try and take their lives are those with no or little contact with family, actually the same amount as it is for men, once statistically analysed !!!

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