In a report commissioned by the Department of Work and Pensions, Dr Paul Litchfield recommends that Work Capability Assessments are scrapped as a routine assessment tool, and the system uses evidence from claimant’s medical professionals, such as GPs and Consultants.
In his one hundred page report (PDF file), Dr Litchfield directly blamed face-to-face assessments for the long delays in processing claims. 82% of applications took longer than the 91 day target. He recommended that interviews only took place where there was insufficient evidence from medical professionals, or if the person’s application was under review after being rejected.
He suggests that not only would this make the assessment process much faster and accurate in the first place, it would also save the taxpayer money by reducing the number of appeals – and by reducing the cost of conducting en-masse assessment interviews.
It sounds like a big dose of common sense to us – obviously something the government in general, and Iain Duncan Smith in particular, have very little of.
After wasting hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money (with the real cost probably going into billions), it seems that the recommendation is to go back to a system where the opinion of properly qualified and experienced medical professionals, who know much more about the applicant than a tick-box interview could ever reveal, is the prime source of information.
It makes sense that to properly assess a stranger there needs to be a solid foundation of reference material which truly reflects the person’s circumstances and health problems over time. The only way this could be achieved is through considering proper evidence by those involved in the person’s care since their health condition was diagnosed. The application can then be considered with a fuller overview of the difficulties a person faces which may fluctuate over time.
It really isn’t rocket science – just common sense instead of sensational propaganda to support an ulterior agenda which the government has used time and again to demonise a small sector of society.
In reality, the drain on the welfare bill from applicants who are disabled and unable to work is tiny. Yet they are the ones who have been targeted and suffered most because of draconian welfare reforms.
The question now is will the government act on Dr Litchfield’s recommendations and implement a much more efficient and fairer system. A copy of the government response is available here (PDF file).
There is little likelihood of an immediate change to the way the assessment process is completed until numerous other studies, reviews and consultations have been completed. Although the withdrawal of Atos from their £500 million contract may spur things along a bit.
The government are highly unlikely to admit they were wrong in the first place, and will attempt to shoehorn Dr Litchfield’s recommendations into the current system. So it may take some time – or we could be surprised and the government may expedite change – but best not to hold your breath as they fight tooth and nail and twist and turn like the snakes in suits they are to make sure they are not seen as the fools they are.
Perhaps this is best evidenced by the statement of a DWP spokeswoman to The Herald Scotland when she said “It is in everyone’s interest to have an assessment which is objective, consistent and fair. In line with the government’s view, Dr Litchfield has suggested that we need to make further changes but that these reflect our strategy of continuous improvement rather than radical overhaul.”
Labour MP Tom Greatrex, a fierce critic of Atos, said he still has reservations about any new scheme, and said “The WCA process hasn’t worked for years and the Government have failed to address it. The experience [for the applicant] is demeaning, causes anxiety and 40 per cent of the tests are overturned on appeal which demonstrates it’s not fair or accurate.”
Disability Rights UK made the following response on its website:
“We believe, more fundamentally, that tinkering with the WCA will not make it work and that the Government should start from scratch on the Work Capability Assessment as part of a wider strategy to transform employment support.”
It wouldn’t surprise us if we see the Conservatives using the Work Capability Assessment as some form of ‘election promise’ in the coming year. Something along the lines of ‘We have listened to your views and are implementing real change to the Work Capability Assessment to make it fairer on everyone and save the taxpayer money,” or some other such bullshit.
We have said this time and time again, but will say it again. This government are not interested in anyone who is not of use to them in some way and are following their own perverted agenda. They will prey on anyone and anything they think they will get some mileage out of, and have shown themselves to be the worst government we have had in recent history (and that is saying something after the debacle that was Blair’s time in office).
The current government have stripped our public assets and are destroying the foundation of our public services to line their own pockets and those of their cronies. Our health, education, welfare, and transport infrastructures are being farmed out to private companies through very lucrative contracts which do nothing to improve them or contribute to our society. The recent sale of Royal Mail is a good example.
They are forcing us into unnecessary economic slavery, and we seem to be letting them get away with it while they sit back and reap financial rewards.
Off the subject, but have you wondered why the government have done NOTHING to regulate the energy industry and/or curtail their profiteering, and have announced that they will make it far more difficult for alternative and renewable energy sources to become established. Another example of where their priorities are.
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