Archive for the ‘Work Capability Assessment’ Category

Welfare reform -PIP – in The Lords

The government faces another rebellion over its welfare Reform Bill after opponents tabled an amendent in the House of Lords.

Baroness Grey-Thompson, a successful disabled athlete and a TV sports presenter is seeking to amend parts of the bill to ensure that there would have to be a pilot scheme before the new assessment regime for disability living allowance is introduced.

Campaigners against the bill argue that only once the scheme is shown to work safely should it be expanded to include all two million claimants of the benefit.

The proposal
The coalition proposes to replace the working-age disability living allowance (DLA) with a new personal independence payment, and cut spending by 20%. DLA is a welfare payment designed to help people look after themselves and aimed at those who find it difficult to walk or get around. The government says it will review its proposals after three years. However, critics point out that this is too long and hundreds of thousands of people will have lost their benefits.

The allowance
The allowance pays out a maximum of £73.60 a week, its middle rate is a little over £49 and the lowest payment less than £20.

The government argues that in eight years the numbers claiming DLA has risen from 2.5 million to 3.2 million, an increase of around 30%, which will cost the taxpayer £12.6bn this year.

Lets see what happens today ….


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Government defeat on welfare reform

….Lord Patel’s amendment to protect the automatic right of young disabled people who are unable to work to qualify for ESA has been carried, by 260 votes to 216.


Not sure what clinched it but….

Baroness Meacher questioned the £70m savings figure used by Freud. She said it is £10m. She called her amendment:

“An attempt to protect the dignity of a very very vulnerable, severely disabled group me people

Lord Freud says the ESA youth condition reform would deliver savings £70m by 2016-17. Those savings would be jeopardised by retaining the automatic payment system he suggests, adding:

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Welfare reform in the Lords

The Lords are debating the welfare reform bill. The first important debate is expected in 6 minutes (4.45pm) and there will be a vote at 5.45pm. On the Listowel ammendment which will enable young people who are unable to work to qualify for ESA.

The second important debate on the time limiting of ESA will then take place.

The key vote on the amendment exempting cancer patients from the one year ESA limit is expected at 6.45pm.

Labour is hoping to get crossbench and Liberal Democrat support for this and hopes will trigger a government defeat.

Somehow i don’t think a defeat is in the air…..
… Oops i was wrong…..

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The Times & Telegraph report of a backlog in the benefits system

The Times & The Daily Telegraph have reported today that the backlog of appeals by welfare claimants against the removal of their benefits is now long enough that the government has had to hire 84 new judges to deal with it.

Both the Times and the Telegraph write that for the first time extra posts have been needed since 2007, when only ten Social Entitlement Chamber judges were recruited to oversee welfare appeals. In recent months 84 have been hired to help to deal with the caseload, at a pro-rata salary of £101,000 per year.

Under the programme to check whether all 2.6 million people on incapacity benefit are actually fit to work about 11,000 claimants a week are being reassessed. Judges have warned about the growing queue of people appealing against being taken off benefits.

In 2010-11 the number of appeals in the Social Entitlement Chamber, where welfare appeals are heard, were 23 per cent higher than the preceding year and 72 per cent up on 2008-09.


On one level it is clearly showing that the government is serious about reform and that it is having a real affect. Others will argue however that this shows that the government is getting it seriously wrong

…….maybe the truth is somewhere between these two stools… no pun intended

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Employment Minister accepts Harrington’s recommendations to Work Capability Assessment

He promised it… now he’s delivering it!!!

Chris Grayling has announced that following an independent review, there will be changes to the Working Capability Assessments (WCA).

These changes aim to improve the fairness and effectiveness of the system have been outlined in a second independent review by Professor Malcolm Harrington.


Chris Grayling has pledged to accept Professor Harrington’s recommendations and to further consult on how best to support people with cancer.

The main recommendations of the Harrington Review include:


  • Introducing checks on benefit decisions to ensure fairness and consistency,
  •  Working with disability groups to help develop guidance for Atos healthcare professionals and Decision Makers,
  •  Improved support and communications for people who move onto Jobseeker’s Allowance to make sure they get the help they need
  •  Regularly publishing data on performance and quality to improve the transparency of the face-to-face assessment

Professor Harrington said:

“My first review found that the WCA is the right concept, but that each part of the process was not working as well as it could or should. Since my last review the process has started giving people a more tailored and personal service.

“This year I have worked alongside some key health and disability organisations to make further recommendations to improve the system, especially for people with mental health and fluctuating conditions.

“I am confident that the changes being implemented are already making a real difference to people and will continue to do so.”

Minister for Employment, Chris Grayling said:

“It is in everyone’s interest to get the system right. We want the assessment to be as fair and consistent as possible. This is the first step on a journey back to work for many people and we want it to be positive.

“The system is far better than it was two years ago but there are still improvements and refinements we can make.

“We are committed to helping thousands of people move from benefits and back into work. Those who are found fit for work will get the help and support they need to get a job. Those found too sick or disabled to work won’t be expected to and will continue to receive the help and support they need.”

Read the independent review

Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

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Recommendations to reduce the costs of sickness absence in the UK

Health and Business experts Dame Carol Black and David Frost have presented a report to the government of the results of an independent review aimed at reducing the cost of sickness to employers, taxpayers and the economy.

The review proposes a number of recommendations which aim to reduce the human and financial cost of sickness absence in the UK.

  • For employers tackling sickness absence a key barrier to getting people back to work is the fit notes. The Review recommends a new Independent Assessment Service (IAS) that employers and GPs can refer long-term sickness absence cases to


  •  The Review recommends that the State introduces a new Job Brokering Service for employees on long-term sickness absence who are unable to return to their current employer. This service could save the State up to £300m a year by reducing the benefits bill.


  • The Reviewers observed that the current benefits system fails claimants with ill-health by directing too many people to Employment and Support Allowance but subsequently declaring most fit for work after a long delay. The Review recommends the removal of the assessment phase for claimants of Employment and Support Allowance.

David Frost former Director General, British Chamber of Commerce said:

“Evidence clearly shows that the longer you are out of work the harder it becomes to get back in. But in many cases sickness absence is due to health conditions that are nonetheless compatible with work – and can often be improved by work.

“The current certification system does not provide employers with the advice they need to make informed decisions about their employees’ capability for work. The establishment of the Independent Assessment Service will provide practical support and help to allow employers to make informed judgements about a return to work for their staff.”

Dame Carol Black, National Director for Health and Work said:

“Sickness absence from work can be unavoidable, but when unduly prolonged it is wasteful and damaging. We believe we have presented an urgent and compelling case to change the current system so that it unashamedly promotes work for those that can.

“If implemented these recommendations will ensure many more people with health conditions are able to enjoy the benefit of work; far fewer will needlessly lose work and fall into long-term benefit dependency.”

Welcoming the independent review today Lord Freud, the Minister for Welfare Reform said:

“The Government is committed to supporting more people with health conditions to work.  The economy loses £15bn in lost economic output each year due to sickness absence and we cannot continue to foot this bill. But even more important is the impact of needless inactivity on people’s lives; the damage to their aspirations and their health and the damage to their families and communities.

“The Government will undertake a comprehensive assessment of the Review’s findings and recommendations with the view to publishing a response during 2012.”

Click here to view the full recommendations


Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

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DWP report published – the role of fit notes

The Department for Work and Pensions has published a report of findings from qualitative research with General Practitioners (GPs) to examine their views on the Statement of Fitness for Work – the fit note.

The report provides detailed information about how the fit note has influenced GPs’ certification practice, and GPs’ views on their role in sickness certification. It is part of a wider programme of research to evaluate the fit note, including research with employers.

Key findings of the report

  • The fit note has become a consultation tool that GPs use to initiate and guide negotiations with patients about returning to or commencing work. GPs use the fit note to justify why they have initiated discussion about work and to prompt them through the process of questioning patients about their work-related capabilities.


  • GPs perceive that the fit note is most effective for patients with conditions such as ME/chronic fatigue syndrome, mild-to-moderate mental health conditions, and musculoskeletal conditions.


  • GPs are less confident in using particular options on the fit note, like the amended duties and workplace adaptations tick boxes. Some reported difficulty in understanding and distinguishing between the four return-to-work tick boxes and confusion over date fields.


  • Barriers to the successful use of the fit note include GPs’ confidence in dealing with conflict and their perception that it could damage their relationship with their patients. GPs are also less likely to drive for a return to work if they perceive the patient’s job to contribute to their health condition.


  • Many GPs believe that motivating their patients to return to work is an integral part of their role and that the fit note has helped them to do this. It has also helped some GPs to adopt a stricter role with their patients.


Read the report


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