ENABLE Scotland members consistently report that the assessment process for Employment and Support Allowance is very stressful, and MPs from the UK Parliament’s Work and Pensions Select Committee recently released a report which agrees.
In its first report of the 2014 – 2015 session, the Work and Pensions Select Committee has stated; “Employment and Support Allowance is not achieving its aims and needs fundamental redesign.”
ENABLE Scotland is pleased that the committee has recognised the significant failings within the Employment and Support Allowance system, as we have been telling the Westminster Government about the problems it has been causing people who have a learning disability since the introduction of the controversial test. Earlier this year, we submitted written evidence to the Select Committee of our members’ experiences of the process.
In our submission to the committee we made four recommended changes:
- The Employment and Support Allowance assessment process changed to reflect the Court of Appeal decision that it discriminates against people with a learning disability.
- For claimants to continue to receive their benefit whilst going through the new mandatory reconsideration process as part of their appeal.
- Employment and Support Allowance in youth provisions to be re-introduced.
- The time limiting of contribution based Employment and Support Allowance to end.
We are pleased that the committee has agreed that the assessment process should be changed, and that claimants should continue to receive their benefit whilst going through the reconsideration process prior to appeal.
We agree with the committee’s findings that the assessment process is stressful and that too many claimants find themselves with an outcome that does not reflect their health barriers to employment.
We are also pleased that they have shared our concerns that the introduction of the mandatory reconsideration process may deter claimants from appealing against decisions and that the ability to continue to receive payments of benefit whilst challenging a decision should be re-instated.
So what will the Department for Work and Pensions do in response to the Committee’s recommendations? Our Chief Executive Officer, Peter Scott, will be writing to the UK Government this week to ask that very question.
In the meantime, ENABLE Scotland intends to continue to raise the problems our members experience with Employment and Support Allowance with the Department for Work and Pensions and UK Government Ministers and will shortly be responding to the fifth independent review of the Work Capability Assessment.
Any members or supporters who wish to influence our response are welcome to contact ENABLE Direct on 0300 0200 101 or by emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org
The full report from the Work and Pensions Committee can be viewed here.