The bad bits of welfare reform


by Rumbold
8th March, 2011 at 4:01 pm    

Much of the debate on welfare reform has centred around the introduction of the Universal Credit, which will hopefully reduce some of the byzantine complexity of the currently system (if it works) by merging a number of benefits into one. While this plan has been understandably praised, there are a number of bad measures currently under consideration as the Welfare Reform Bill reaches its second reading. Benefits activist Sue Marsh summarises the three key proposals which should be stopped or reformed:

1) Removing Disability Living Allowance mobility payments from adults in residential care.

An adult who needs to live in residential care will have extensive needs and are often amongst the most severely disabled. The mobility component of DLA afforded them their only freedom, allowing them to choose to fund a power wheelchair otherwise unavailable on the NHS, or to pay for taxis or transport to get out now and then. Taking this away would leave the most vulnerable disabled people effectively housebound. There is no support for this change anywhere – charities, independent benefit reports and even the government’s own advisers have called for this to be removed from the bill

2) Scrapping DLA entirely and replacing it with Personal Independent Payments (PIPs).

DLA is a very effective benefit with fraud rates of less than 1% (DWP own figures) It is already incredibly hard to claim and the qualification criteria are very narrow. The government have announced that DLA claimants will also soon face assessment and that the overall number of claimants will be reduced by at least 20%. The government’s own advisory committee concluded that they could find no justification for this reform and have asked for clarification from the government. If a benefit is already very efficient, yet a government announce a 20% cull before a single assessment has even taken place, we conclude it can only be a cost cutting measure that will ignore genuine need.

3) Time limiting Employment Support Allowance (ESA, previously Incapacity Benefit) to 1 Year

Many people who need to claim ESA have “long term variable” or chronic illnesses such as MS, Parkinson’s, Bowel Disease, Leukaemia or severe Mental Illness. These conditions often do not go away after a year and sadly, often get worse over time. A high percentage of those with these conditions are being found “fit for work” under ESA but after 1 year, if they have a working partner, they will receive no state assistance whatsoever. All of their benefit will be stopped, a loss of just under £5000 a year.

Ms Marsh also wants to see reform of the awful ATOS ‘Work Capability Assessment’:

4) ATOS assessments are “unfit for purpose” and a better way of assessing need must be implemented.

ATOS are the private company charged with assessing over 1.5 million sick and disabled people during this parliament.

-They do not need to use trained medical experts.
-Up to 40% of rejected claims are going to appeal with up to 70% of those decisions being overturned.
-Assessments are humiliating and degrading causing great anxiety to those genuinely in need.
-Just 7% of previous claimants are being found unfit to work.
-Testimony from Consultants and GPs is often ignored entirely.
-People are dying before lengthy appeals can be heard.
-Even the professor who designed these assessments calls them a “complete mess


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Filed in: Current affairs,Disability






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  1. sunny hundal

    Blogged: : The bad bits of welfare reform http://bit.ly/hNblXr


  2. Amber of the Island

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  3. Crimson Crip

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  4. Matthew Taylor

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  5. Kelvin John Edge

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  6. sarah ismail

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  7. Double.Karma

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  8. Nick H.

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  9. Regie Bazuri

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  1. douglas clark — on 8th March, 2011 at 4:47 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Interesting article.

    I don’t understand this bit:

    Just 7% of previous claimants are being found unfit to work.

    Could you explain what it means?

  2. MaidMarian — on 8th March, 2011 at 7:24 pm  

    Funny thing, a group of us at the weekend were talking about something similar, and I almost got lynched for suggesting that subsidising bus travel, prescriptions, TV licenses and winter fuel for wealthy pensioners might be a bad use of money.

    Just one other thing though Rumbold – On the ATOS tests.

    ‘Up to 40% of rejected claims are going to appeal with up to 70% of those decisions being overturned.’

    That would suggest that the ATOS test is correct on something like 75-80 times out of 100. Now, sure that is far too many wrong assessments, but that does not sound like a total write-off. Or have I just misread here?

  3. KJB — on 9th March, 2011 at 12:09 am  

    A high percentage of those with these conditions are being found “fit for work” under ESA but after 1 year, if they have a working partner, they will receive no state assistance whatsoever. All of their benefit will be stopped, a loss of just under £5000 a year.

    Sounds like a recipe for abuse and family breakdown to me…

  4. Rumbold — on 9th March, 2011 at 8:42 am  

    Douglas:

    The Work Capability Assessment has three potential outcomes: one is that people are found completely fit to work and taken off the benefit, two is that they are found able to work but still have a health problem, which puts them in the Work Related Activity Group, or three, they are found unfit to work, are placed in the support group, and are not expected to look or prepare for work.

    MaidMarian:

    70% of appealed claims overturned is high. The figures also mask that a fair few people who are placed in the WRAG group should be put in the support group. No medical assessment will ever be perfect, but the ATOS one ignores doctor’s evidence, and the tests are idiotic. It is also fundamentally flawed because ATOS get extra money for everyone they remove from the benefit (as JSA is cheaper than ESA).

  5. douglas clark — on 9th March, 2011 at 8:58 am  

    Rumbold,

    Thanks for clearing that up. You are right about the byzantine nature of this!

  6. Rumbold — on 9th March, 2011 at 9:23 am  

    Thanks Douglas.

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