People with mental health problems must be heard on welfare reform
Posted Wednesday 28 July 2010
Mind’s Chief Executive Paul Farmer has joined a scrutiny group which will advise and challenge the independent review set up to look at the fairness and accuracy of the Work Capacity Assessment (WCA), a move which will ensure that the voices of people with experience of mental distress are represented at the highest level in the ongoing review of welfare reform.
The announcement comes as the Department for Work and Pensions yesterday released the latest statistics for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) applications, which show that 39 per cent of applicants are being found fit for work following their assessment, a figure far higher than originally predicted.
Paul Farmer said:
It is excellent news that the coalition Government has ordered a review of the WCA and I am very pleased to be on the scrutiny panel to represent the views and concerns of people with mental health problems, many of whom have been struggling with the benefits system for years.
In its current format the WCA is not fit for purpose and falls far short of being able to accurately measure when someone’s mental health affects their ability to work. The number of successful appeals are evidence of the inaccuracy of the test with 40 per cent of the most recent appeals upheld.
Simplistic use of the basic figures around failed ESA applications only serve to fuel the negative rhetoric around benefits, which in itself can have a devastating impact on people with mental health problems who find themselves labelled as ‘benefits scroungers’ regardless of their genuine needs.
- Get involved with our campaign to reform the WCA assessment.