The role of incapacity benefit reassessment in helping claimants into employment - Work and Pensions Committee Contents

Written evidence submitted by Anne May

1. I would like to raise my concerns about the Government's proposals to change people over from long-term Incapacity Benefit to ESA.

2.The medical assessment itself is unfair and does not accurately reflect a person's ability to carry out full-time employment. They are often carried out by Healthcare Professionals who do not understand complex conditions. These medical assessments should be carried out by fully trained doctors and where a person has a specific illness the doctor should be knowledgeable about it. There are many descriptors which are so ambiguous that they allow the DWP to find people "fit for work" when clearly they are not. For example just because a person can pick a light item up once, or can reach above their head with both arms once does not make them fit to work.

3 There are many, many examples of people who have been wrongly assessed by these so called professionals. We have heard news reports about people who have brain tumours, and cancer and have been found fit for work. We have heard about people who have started the appeal process, only to die before even getting a Tribunal date. They must have really been fit to work!

4. Probably the most unfair proposal is the one to limit Contribution Based ESA to 12 months, essentially treating it as a means-tested benefit and not an illness based entitlement. This will affect all previous claimants migrating from Contribution Based Incapacity Benefit. In effect, what the Government is saying is that if the claimant has a partner who works then they should keep them financially. This is grossly unfair as these claimants have paid into the National Insurance system for many years whilst working, so why should they be punished because they have a partner who is prepared to go out and work.

5.Claimants of income based Incapacity Benefit which is payable through Income Support and Income based ESA, are in effect rewarded for not having worked. In the majority of these cases their partners will also not be working so the Government is encouraging people to be lazy in order to protect their benefits. At the same time the Government is punishing genuine hard workers, by inflicting the financial burden of their partners living expenses on to them.

6. Likewise, people who have worked for many years and have paid into a private pension or occupational pension will be punished. Never mind the fact that they have already been taxed on the pension contributions, whilst working and then taxed on the pension itself once they were too ill to work, they now also face the extremely unfair likelihood that their ESA will stop as the Government decide to means-test it. This is absolutely disgusting, another example of the Government picking on the vulnerable members of our society.

April 2011

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 26 July 2011