Today (Thursday, 12 December 2013), marks the publication of the fourth third Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), the controversial test used to determine eligibility for Employment and Support Allowance, an out-of-work benefit claimed by many people with mental health problems. This is the first time that BT Chief Medical Officer Dr Litchfield has carried out a review, having taken over from Professor Harrington, who was responsible for undertaking the first three reviews, which began in 2009.
“We welcome this review, and are pleased that Dr Litchfield acknowledges that there are particular problems around mental health problems in the WCA. It is good to see recommendations around better mental health training and encouraging applicants to submit more evidence from the people who know them best.
“However this report fails to tackle some of the fundamental problems with the assessment process. We continue to see people being incorrectly assessed as ‘fit for work’ and being placed under inappropriate pressure to push them into employment, rather than supporting them to overcome the barriers they face. This leads to anxiety and distress that often pushes people with mental health problems further from work.
“Mind, along with many other organisations who support people with disabilities, has been providing evidence on behalf of those we represent since these reviews began. Now after four years, we desperately need to see an overhaul of this broken system which continues to consistently let down thousands of the most vulnerable people in society. We want to see assessments carried out by healthcare professionals with expertise in mental health, a more nuanced and sensitive assessment, and the DWP proactively collecting additional evidence from relevant health professionals.”