Welfare reform: update and thank you
Posted Wednesday 15 September 2010
I wanted to thank our supporters for making such a vital contribution to our submission to Professor Harrington’s Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). Many of you got in touch either by sending us your experience of welfare and benefits or by responding to our survey on the review. This evidence provided the basis for our response to the review and we are hopeful that it will lead to real changes to the WCA.
The Government is firmly committed to maintaining the WCA and to transferring the majority of incapacity benefits claimants across to the new Employment and Support Allowance system via this assessment of eligibility. The assessment process will therefore have a profound impact on hundreds of thousands of people who are currently receiving support because of a mental health problem – it is vital that it is accurate, fair and realistic.
Although those who will reach retirement age during the migration period (April 2011 to March 2014) will not be reassessed, and the Government has committed to making use of existing information about claimants, we are still concerned that the migration process will be blighted by the issues that have characterised the WCA process so far. The current review is the best opportunity for organisations like Mind to influence the working of the WCA and we are pleased that our supporters have helped us so much in this endeavour.
But we know that there is still so much to do.
- The Independent Review will be taking additional evidence from the Disability Benefits Consortium, of which Mind is a member, and you can contribute to this by filling in their survey.
- Once the review is complete we will be pressing the Government to adopt any improvements it recommends, and campaigning publicly if we do not feel the review goes far enough or the Government does not take sufficient notice of it.
- We will then be lobbying around the Welfare Reform White Paper and Bill in December and the New Year.
- After that we will be monitoring the start of IB migration and the introduction of the Work Programme.
Alongside all this we will be working to present a more balanced picture of benefits claimants in the media.
In short, this is going to be a long, hard battle but we are confident that, together, we can bring about real change which will benefit a huge number of people.
Tom Pollard, Policy and Campaigns Officer
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