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Charities Say Sickness Benefit Assessment Reforms Will Cause Further Misery at Taxpayer's Expense

Outline: Charities are being overwhelmed by evidence showing the Assessment to be inaccurate.

Main Digest

Papworth Trust is leading a coalition of national charities concerned that government reforms to the Work Capability Assessment, which examines people's fitness for employment, will cause further misery to Britain's most vulnerable people.

Charities are being overwhelmed by evidence showing the Assessment to be inaccurate. The government's independent review of the Assessment, published in November 2010, made recommendations for improvements which were widely commended by industry experts. However the government now plans to firstly implement recommendations from their October 2009 internal review, which charities believe will worsen the Assessment.

The October 2009 review was far less comprehensive than the independent one which followed. It did not include evidence from the high percentage of successful appeals which show the common failings of the Assessment. Many of the internal recommendations, in particular around how to recognize mental health conditions and learning disabilities, have been contradicted by the later independent review.

Matthew Lester, Work and Learning Director of Papworth Trust says that "The inaccuracy of the Assessment is already causing unnecessary expense because over a third of those found fit to work are appealing the decision. Implementing questionable reforms from the earlier review will waste further resources, diverting from those needed to implement the independent review.

"Worst of all, it means that vulnerable people will continue to be put through an inaccurate Assessment, causing unnecessary distress to highly vulnerable people."

There are 42 organizations in the coalition including Mind, RNID, Crisis, Scope and Remploy. They submitted evidence to Professor Harrington's independent review and have now issued an open letter to the Minister for Employment Chris Grayling to share their concerns about the Assessment reform plan. Please email if you cannot download the letter from the link above.

Each appeal is estimated to cost £350, whereas the original Assessment costs around £50. Costs are estimated using 2009 and 2010 Parliamentary answers. Links to these are available on request.

About Papworth Trust:

Papworth Trust provides a wide range of services for disabled people. It has doubled in size over the last three years.

Each year the Trust helps over 17,000 people from the East of England and beyond through a wide range of services covering Employment, Vocational Rehabilitation, Housing, Personal Support and Learning for Life and Work. The Trust also works with the Government, employers, service providers and commissioners to promote disability equality and good practice.

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