How we are treating the sick and disabled

Three months or so ago, I did a posting about how I had accompanied a good friend of mine with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) to an interview as part of a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) because he had applied for the new Employment & Support Allowance (ESA). He was refused the ESA, he appealed, and he is still waiting to be called for the appeal hearing.

Meanwhile a House of Commons Select Committee has been reviewing the process of assessing claimants and in particular the role of the company Atos contracted to carry out the assessments. The Committee reports tomorrow and is expected to be critical of the process followed by the Departmemt of Work & Pensions (DWP) in pursuing its policy of  reducing dependence on incapacity benefit.

In an article today, the “Guardian” explains how the Atos process works and the criticisms made of it. More than 400,000 appeals – around a third of all cases – have been lodged against decisions not to grant the new benefit and, of those appeals, 39% have proved successful. Clearly it is right that those who can work should do so and those who not need the benefit should not receive it, but the policy has been implemented in an often hurtful and inhumane fashion.

It is a brutal reminder than public expenditure cuts really hurt.


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