Incapacity Benefit reassessment figures hide the real story
Posted Thursday 15 March 2012
The mental health charity Mind has today responded to figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about the reassessment of people on Incapacity Benefits (IB).
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of the mental health charity Mind, said:
Today’s figures do not accurately reflect how many people are genuinely fit for work. The numbers are misleading as they do not show the full effect of the 40 per cent of people who appeal the outcome of their assessment and the 40 per cent of these appeals which are successful. The work capability assessment is a flawed process and is causing anxiety and pain for thousands of people who are trapped in a cycle of reassessments and appeals.
In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that the number of appeals could be even higher with early indications from the Burnley and Aberdeen incapacity benefit reassessment pilots showing that half of the people involved appealed their decision and half of these appeals were successful. This means that 1 in 4 of the pilot’s fit for work decisions were wrong.
Currently appeals against ESA decisions cost the taxpayer £50m a year, a figure which will increase rapidly as the reassessments continue. It is unbelievable that so much money is being thrown away on a system which doesn’t work and which we know can have a devastating impact on people’s mental health.
1.6 million people who receive IB will be reassessed over the next three years via the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) to establish whether they are fit for work or whether they are entitled to be migrated onto the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Over 40% of people claiming IB do so for mental health problems.
Mind had called for a delay in this reassessment process, as the charity still has deep concerns about effectiveness and accuracy of the WCA and felt that more time was needed for improvements - such as those proposed in Professor Harrington’s reviews - to become embedded.