Work Capability Tests – Welfare ‘reforms’ at the sharp end

Posted: July 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

By Mervyn Drage

Many disabled people and claimants are currently being attacked by the Con Dem Coalition, the DWP and private profit making companies such as ATOS Healthcare,which has a contract with the DWP to medically examine disabled people.

ATOS Healthcare actually get financially rewarded if they can pronounce a disabled person “fit for work”. This is absolutely appalling. It is a very upsetting experience for disabled people who are often incapacitated and not able to work. Being forced off disability benefits on to Job Seekers Allowance means a big reduction in disabled peoples incomes. The major contradiction of course is that decent well paid work is just not available for disabled people; its all compounded by the fact that there are already millions of unemployed people in Britain seeking work. CAB’s, Welfare Rights bodies, unemployed workers centres, trade unions and the No To The Abolition of Welfare national network are doing great work defending claimants rights. On Appeal, to Social Security Appeal Tribunals, against the often wrong decisions of ATOS Healthcare, who conduct a Work Capability Test, which examines a claimant’s physical disabilities and mental health issues, claimants often win and get their full entitlement of benefits restored and back dated. But its a harrowing experience, which results in a severe reduction in living standards for several months before the Appeal is heard.

I should know, I have been there, but with the assistance of Manchester Welfare Rights service and my trade union, I won my case on Appeal. Another ATOS Healthcare medical test is due soon, I am dreading it. Some claimants lose their Appeals or do not even get to the Appeal stage due to not receiving professional welfare rights advice.

The solutions?

1) Remove private profit making companies from the DWP list of contractors.

2) All medical tests should rely on medical assessments from the claimant’s Doctor.

3) In a decent society all genuinely sick and disabled claimants should receive their full entitlements to state benefits.

For more information see:

Disabled Peoples Direct Action Network is not a bad place to start http://www.facebook.com/DirectActionNetwork

 

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