Your Say on Disability: Our Response to the Work Capability Assessment
The UK Government recently carried out a consultation on their proposals to reform Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The WCA is an assessment carried out for both Universal Credit (UC) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The results of the WCA are used by the Department for Work and Pensions to determine who can and cannot work, due to their disability or health conditions and whether or not someone qualifies to receive ESA or the Health Component of UC.
The UK Government has brought forward proposals to change specific activities such as getting around your local area, mobility, continence and engaging with other people face to face, and whether these should be used as part of the WCA. They are also asking people’s views on changing the criteria by which someone could be declared “fit for work.”
Disability Equality Scotland have submitted a response to the consultation. To do this, we conducted a survey which ran from 16 October until 28 October, to seek your views and this formed the basis of our response. The questions we asked in the survey were taken directly from the UK Government’s consultation paper.
Based on members feedback the following is a summary of what we told the UK Government in our consultation response.
Question: What are your views on the three Mobilising options?
- Response: We do not agree with the three ‘mobilising’ options outlined by the UK Government, as we do not believe the proposed changes are fair on disabled people. These included removing this activity from the assessment completely, a plan to cut the number of points available during assessment when determining fitness to work and reducing the walking distance from 50 metres to 20 metres so that the WCA matches Personal Independence Payment. Members were very clear- they disagree with all these proposals.
Question: What are your views on the three Absence or loss of bowel/bladder control (Continence) options?
- Response: We strongly disagree with the proposal to reduce the number of points available for Absence or Loss of bowel/ bladder control (continence) descriptors for the Limited Capability for Work (LCW) group. The removal of the assessment activity for continence was opposed by 75% of respondents to our members survey. Furthermore, 70% of our members surveyed said they opposed amending the descriptors from weekly symptoms to daily symptoms.
Question: What are your views on the two Coping with Social Engagement options?
- Response: In terms of the proposed two Coping with Social Engagement options, we disagree overwhelmingly with the proposals in this area. Seventy-three percent (73%) of our members told us that they do not want the Coping with Social Engagement Activity removed which they view as being unfair and not reflective of the lived experienced of people with an impairment which affects their ability to cope with social engagement.
Question: What are your views on the two Getting About options?
- Response: We disagree with the removal of the getting around activity from the WCA. Sixty-three percent (63%) of our members disagree with removing the getting around activity from the WCA and by extension, disagree with reducing the number of points available.
Question: In addition to the above options for change, are there any other WCA activities or descriptors that you think we should be considering changes to and why?
- Response: DES accepts that the social security system does need appropriate conditionality and criteria to determine who is able to work and who is not able to. Any approach to reform must be underpinned by the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, with further underlining of the UN Convention on Human Rights.
Question: What are your views on how the LCWRA Substantial Risk regulations could be amended with the emphasis on what work preparation activity an individual is able to safely undertake?
- Response: Our members disagree – in the strongest possible terms – with any attempt to amend the Substantial Risk Regulations. The Substantial Risk Regulations are a legislative safety net to ensure that any claimant in the Limited Capability for Work and Work-related Activity (LCWRA) group’s autonomy and safety is protected. These changes should not be implemented due to the severe ramifications for disabled people. Substantive risk criteria are designed to prevent an individual from further harm and to ensure the right of agency is preserved.
Question: What could constitute tailored or a minimum level of work preparation activity?
- Response: Any future system or programme of work preparation activities must be co-designed with disabled people and/or disabled people organisations. Any programme must adhere to the right of agency as set out in UN charters. When assessing possible activities, this must be done with recognition of the barriers which arise for disabled people and that due regard is given to the person’s experience and skills as a baseline.
Question: What are your views on whether we should remove the LCWRA risk group and place the people in this group in LCW risk instead?
- We do not believe that the LCWRA should be removed as this ensures that those who are unable to work due to their impairment are not made to do so. Abolition of the LCWRA group would place disabled people at risk if they genuinely cannot work as they are unable to do so.
- The above bullet points are a summary of Disability Equality Scotland’s response to the formal consultation. Thanks to our members, we have been able to tell the UK Government that Disability Equality Scotland strongly opposes what they are proposing for the WCA.
If you would like to read our full response to the UK Government, please drop an email to email@example.com.