Welfare reform revisited

A BBC article this week stated that the Lib Dems plan to call for changes to the current 'stressful' Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) testing during their party conference in Birmingham next month.

This follows recent protests by many who are unhappy with the controversial Work Capability Assessment (WCA) computerised testing system introduced to ascertain disability claims.

There are serious concerns that assessments are inaccurate and unfair, which echoes our support of the recent Hardest Hit campaign and the 'Making it work for fluctuating conditions' report we collaborated on in May to make benefits assessments fairer.

Despite incorporation of recommendations from Professor Harrington for a fairer system, following 2 previous reviews of the process, questions remain about whether a tick-box computer-led assessment is the best way to analyse suitability to work.

Over the next 3 years, 1.5 million people will undergo this more stringent procedure.

With any assessments for disability allowance, the complex and fluctuating nature of a condition such as Parkinson's is not being taken into account.

A staggering 40% of claimants denied support appeal, a process which is costly for the state.

Another worry is that the Government proposes to limit contributory ESA to just 1 year for those deemed about to undertake 'work-related activity. This means people with Parkinson's who've worked all their lives and paid national insurance could have support withdrawn because they can't find work after 12 months.

The Government must ensure its proposals do not punish those in society who need the most support.

We'll be contributing to a second Independent Review of the WCA currently being carried out by Professor Harrington. Read more about how to influence our response.

Share your views or experience of ESA below or email campaigns@parkinsons.org.uk

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