Work Capability Assessment reforms ‘making disabled people feel like frauds’ | Personal Finance | Finance newsbhunt


The plans to reform the DWP’s Work Capability Assessment have been labelled “barbaric” by disability claimants as fears rise that they’ll lose extra support.

Jeremy Hunt unveiled a number of new plans during this afternoon’s Autumn Statement to “boost the economy”, including a “Back to Work” plan to help more people into employment.

The Chancellor’s plan, which has been supported by £2.5billion worth of funding, intends to help people look for and stay in work, manage their health conditions, and “stem the flow” into sickness-related inactivity.

Stronger sanctions are to be imposed on those who “choose not to engage” with measures that help them find work. Additionally, reforms of the fit note process will also be taking place to support more people to resume work after a period of illness.

Meanwhile, reforms will be made to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The purpose of which has been said to help more people, such as those with limited mobility and mental health conditions, find work where they can, rather than being automatically deemed unable to work or look for work.

Lynn Pinfield, 54 from West Lothian was diagnosed with relapsing Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2018.

Ms Pinfield currently claims Employment and Support Allowance and does not have to complete any work-related requirements to receive her benefits in full.

Commenting on the reforms, Ms Pinfield said: “I think all of these proposed changes are barbaric, losing extra support is a terrifying thought.

“If that happened to me I’d stop putting my heating on, start using less hot water, and Christmas and birthdays would be cancelled. I have three children and three grandchildren so this would break my heart.”

In addition to sanction threats, charities warn claimants could lose out on the higher rate of support, which can potentially be worth hundreds of pounds a month.

Universal Credit claimants who are deemed to have “limited capacity for work-related activity” receive an additional £390 per month, on top of the standard allowance.

The changes to the Work Capability Assessment could see eligibility for the extra payment instead awarded to anyone who receives both Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This would mean eligibility for the new “health element” of Universal Credit would be decided through the PIP assessment, and those found not eligible for PIP would not receive the health element.

Ms Pinfield added: “The Government are making disabled people feel like frauds. How on earth do they expect people to fulfil work-related requirements? How are people supposed to travel for this? They clearly do not understand MS in the slightest.”

Anastasia Berry, policy co-chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium and policy manager at the MS Society, commented: “The Government’s decision to push ahead with this cynical attack on disability benefits will have a devastating impact on those on the lowest incomes.

“It will deprive people with severe health problems of £390 a month and push more disabled people into poverty in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

“The Government claims a radical shift towards home working since the pandemic can justify removing support for those with mobility issues. But only one in 10 jobs advertised this year have offered this option.”

Subsequently, Ms Berry noted that access to health and care support – which could keep people in work for longer – has become increasingly strained.

She said: “This approach will have dire consequences for disabled people, including those with MS – a condition which can be debilitating, exhausting and unpredictable, and will only progress over time. The Government can, and must, do better by disabled people by scrapping these damaging changes.”

Anela Anwar, chief executive of anti-poverty charity Z2K, said: “Despite near-unanimous opposition, the Government has chosen to go ahead with dangerous and unevidenced proposals that will deny many seriously ill and disabled people the financial support they need, and put some at serious risk of harm.

“Working fully from home is simply not an option in many sectors – and low-paid workers are less likely to do so than higher-paid workers. The Department for Work and Pensions has also given no thought whatsoever to whether people have the skills or equipment to work remotely, or even a suitable place or home environment to work in.

“Disabled people are already more likely to live in poverty than non-disabled households, and two-thirds of people in destitution are disabled. Ministers should treat this as the scandal it is, alongside focusing on the causes of rising ill health. Instead, the Government has responded with the tired and ineffective approach of yet more cuts and threats. It must think again, and put disabled people themselves at the heart of future policymaking.”



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