Incapacity tests reject 37% of claimants

Sign a0bove disabled parking bay 1.5 million people will be reassessed by spring 2014

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More than a third of incapacity benefit claimants being reassessed for the new Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) have been deemed fit to work.

Of the first 141,100 claimants reviewed since last April, 37% would no longer be paid the benefit, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said.

Meanwhile 29% will continue being paid the ESA and will not be expected to work.

And 34% will receive the new benefit but go on a back-to-work programme.

The controversial reviews started across the UK last April and will eventually cover 1.5 million incapacity benefit claimants by early 2014.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the official figures justified the government's decision in 2010 to press ahead with the wholesale review of incapacity benefit claimants.

These involve the claimants going through the work capability assessments (WCA) that are applied to new applicants.

"To have such a high percentage who are fit for work just emphasises what a complete waste of human lives the current system has been," the minister said.

"We know that for many it will be a long haul back to work but it's much better to help them on the journey than to leave them on benefits for the rest of their lives."

Start Quote

There are still deep flaws with the assessment”

End Quote Richard Hawkes Scope

However the TUC's general secretary, Brendan Barber, said the test was designed purely to kick people off benefits, "whatever the cost".

"It's hardly surprising that a test specifically designed to make fewer people qualify for disability benefits is passing more people as 'fit to work'," he said.

"These tests have deemed terminally ill patients and people with severe disabilities as 'fit to work', are costing taxpayers a small fortune in successful legal appeals and serve no clear benefit to the very people they are supposed to help."


ESA became the new benefit on 31 March 2011 for all new claimants who are unable to work due to incapacity or illness.

Anyone barred from claiming ESA would still be able to claim Jobseeker's Allowance if they remained unemployed, said a spokeswoman for the DWP.

Richard Hawkes, of the disability charity Scope, said the latest statistics told only a partial story.

"There have been continuing problems with the work capability assessment which has used a tick box-style assessment to assess people's fitness for work," he said.

"Up to 40% of appeals against a WCA decision have been found in favour of the claimant, suggesting there are still deep flaws with the assessment."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 340.

    I would hope that the malingerers & those whose 'disability' is drug/alcohol induced are weeded out of the system so the really disabled (through no fault of their own) get the support they're entitled to. I fear that my partner will be forced back to work (he wants to) despite being physically unable to. Not all disabilities are obvious & it takes a trained eye to properly assess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 339.

    Too right Mike Logan. To look at me you would not say I was ill. But I am. I have worked for 35 years. I think I have paid in a long time and if I am sick now I think that my contributions were my insurance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 338.

    Why don't we go the whole hog and declare Margaret Thatcher healthy and make her PM again?

  • rate this

    Comment number 337.

    Also, those who are faking will still easily be able to trick the system, it's easy to fake a condition. But those who are honest and who's condition varies day-to-day will get refused if their assessor (who is not a doctor!) gets the wrong impression. The best way to reduce benefit fraud is to encourage the public to report fakers, and to covertly investigate suspected fakers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 336.

    323.Cameron in America "Benefit claimants are parasites and spongers."

    No, they are human beings. I sincerely hope that you never find yourself having to go through the indignity of having to claim benefits..

    No..wait...Your inhumanity to your fellow UK citizens actually has me hoping that you have to go through the indignity of having to claim. Perhaps then you will find some sort of empathy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 335.

    "40% of their decisions are overturned by tribunals" WRONG.....40% of Appeals are succesfull. Many people do not appeal as it is a very lengthy process and many are made to feel as though they are going to be treated as a 'defendant'.
    I hope all this has not given Cameron indigestion after his slap-up banquet - useless scroungers with their noses in the trough........

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

    ~276. Yes I see it as a problem when it involves removing benefits from sick people. I have no confidence in a'quiz' which pays the 'quizmaster' to mark answers as 'wrong' without have to justify the decision. If we want cash for the public purse there are many ways of raising it without picking on those who can't fight back. It is vile.

  • rate this

    Comment number 333.

    Considering the vast increase in numbers registering as disabled in the last few years I am surprised the figure is only 37%.
    It is no wonder that other countries think our benefits system a soft-touch.

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    The times I have sprinted out of my car in a disabled space (with blue badge) fully able bodied and observed the hateful stares from passersby. Shame most do not linger long enough to see me struggle with the wheelchair from the back of my 3 door corsa and attempt to transfer my 6 foot 2 partner from car seat to wheelchair when he is fully paralysed on one side due to a stroke!

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    Ive just seen a report of a rejected claimant and criteria are beyond belief despite have a knee that dislocates at will barely able to walk 100yd and one arm that dosent work and a neck injury that causes paralysis on one side combined with the depression as long as he can sit for one hour hold a juice carton with one of his arms over his head he,s deemed fit for work totally amazed and disgusted

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    I know someone who was tutored by a DSS employee in how to cheat to get maximum benefits. She says she cannot work due, in part, to a bad back but has just driven a friend 150 miles to an airport and back the same day. She is supposed to fall many times a day but none of us have ever seen this. She is obese and uses a mobility scooter because she is lazy. A travesty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    Mike Logan

    Not everybody has a medical condition that's immediately obvious. I have epilepsy & osteopenia (low bone density), one step away from osteoporosis. 6 years ago I woke up with 4 broken ribs, which led to my diagnosis; a direct result of my then medication for epilepsy.

    A lot of the comments being posted are by bigots who've bought the Tory lie that all claimants are scroungers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    323. Cameron in America
    It doesn't take much to press a few buttons on a check-out does it ?
    No. Or indeed, as you prove, to post any old rubbish on a forum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    I did not say in my first message but I worked for my GP practice for 16 years prior to being ill. I just do not see how someone who knows you workwise and socially who is a fully practicing trained GP can be overuled by ATOS 'professionals'. It stinks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    The primary purpose of the current assessment is to get people off benefits, protecting those who are genuine is only an after-thought for the gov. My disabled mother was sent back to work in error and it caused a lot of stress and a great deal of financial hardship whilst her appeal went through. My dad is mentally ill and has his assessment soon, the anxiety is really sending him off the rails.

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.

    Oh I see te government is also trying to prevent people on benefits from getting access to legal aid too - presumably to prevent them winning their cases and making the DWP look stupid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    "many of the people who are booted off ESA may be technically 'fit to work' without ESA what are they to do? Starve? Because that is the real prospect facing some people."

    They still get jobseekers allowance lie everyone else.

  • Comment number 323.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    Anyone reassessed by ATOS knows that the test is nothing to do with whether anyone is fit for work. it's a tick box questionnaire and look over by a nurse, to get as many off benefit as possible and keep trying.

    More anti-benefit propaganda info by the BBC. It doesn't emphasise how many were deemed fit after appeals and tribunals, or costs - a lot.

    Benefit fraud is peanuts v tax.

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    I am surprised it is only 37% - I would have thought it would be 100% given the DWP / ATOS ignore the fact that people with MS have an incurable and debilitating disease and award suffers NIL disability points, meaning they are assessed as being 100% fit and healthy and able to hold down a full time job. With assessment processes like that, and for cancer sufferers,


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