Work Capability Assessment

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2010 National Disabled Members' Conference
2 July 2010
Carried as Amended

Conference is concerned that planned changes to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) will force thousands of disabled people into poverty.

The WCA is the medical assessment process for individuals claiming Employment and Support Allowance. It identifies how an individual’s health condition or disability affects their ability to work and plays an important role in determining entitlement to benefit.

To be entitled to receive this benefit, individuals must be found to have limited capability for work which means that their current health condition or disability restricts their ability to work.

In particular we are concerned that non-apparent conditions that are prevalent in black communities such as Sickle Cell, Thallasaemia, Lupus, Diabetes etc are largely misunderstood by the DWP assessment process. As such black people may not receive their entitlement to an adequate level benefit income and may not have access to information in other languages.

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Black people will be further demonised as they become more marginalised, isolated and psychologically stressed by poverty. The Government’s attack on benefits will have a detrimental effect on black people’s health and wellbeing.

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We further call upon the National Disabled Members’ Committee to lobby appropriate organisations concerned with particular conditions that are prevalent within black communities to produce information in other languages that are common in black communities.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) planned revisions to WCA will result in benefits claimants being reassessed so that many can be taken off “inactive benefits” and then that they are subsequently put on “more appropriate benefits that provide greater employment support”. Basically the DWP is attempting to push thousands of people onto Jobseekers Allowance which won’t cover living costs for some disabled people who require greater support. The DWP has said that the WCA will ensure that appropriate account is taken of an individual’s adaptation to their condition or disability, however, we are concerned that the WCA is not flexible enough to reflect the needs of disabled people.

One and half million disabled people in the UK are willing and able to work but can’t get jobs, this is disgraceful and needs to be addressed and the planned changes to WCA is not the way forward, in fact it is a backward move for disabled people.

Conference is particularly concerned that the WCA will be used as a way of making easy savings at a time when massive cuts are being made in Central Government spending. The current economic crisis also makes it even more difficult for disabled people to get and retain work.

Conference therefore asks the National Disabled Members’ Committee to work with the Labour Link and campaigning organisations to ensure that the changes being proposed to the WCA won’t have a detrimental affect on individuals claiming this benefit.