Just received this from B&W
Professor Harrington has made a call for evidence for his third review of the work capability assessment. He especially wants to hear from claimants about whether all the changes he has introduced mean that Atos and the DWP now deal with you more fairly and effectively.
Yet, astonishingly, there is nowhere for claimants to answer the questions he puts to you. Instead, the DWP have buried the questionnaire in a .pdf file which cannot be written to unless you own software costing hundreds of pounds.
The only way claimants can take part is either by printing off the document, and then writing the answers by hand and posting them to Harrington or by trying to copy, paste and reformat all the questions into another document to create their own questionnaire.
In addition, the call for evidence went out just before the summer holidays and ends on September 7th, just as schools go back. This means that it has attracted very little attention from charities and other organisations that might otherwise be encouraging claimants to get involved.
So, to help you take part, Benefits and Work has done two things.
We’ve created an online version of the questionnaire you can complete. Your answers will be emailed to you and you can then check them and forward them to Harrington’s team. http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php ... er%23quest
We’ve also created a text version of the questionnaire, so if you prefer you can type in that and then send your answers to Harrington. http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php ... ter%23text
Make no mistake, this review matters.
The DWP and Atos have faced ever growing criticism of the WCA, with even GPs calling en masse for it to be scrapped and two TV investigations of the WCA being broadcast next week. Their response has always been that they are putting into place all Harrington’s recommendations and that, as a result the WCA is greatly improved.
If you agree that it has got better it’s important that you show your support for the changes to silence the critics. If you think it hasn’t, then it’s equally important that you make it as hard as possible for Grayling and Iain Duncan Smith to use Harrington as a defence.
There’s a series of questions about issues such as whether telephone and written communications have improved, whether medical examinations are better and whether the WCA is now fair and effective. There’s also an ‘anything else’ box you can use to address issues like recording medicals and waiting times, for example.
Harrington particularly wants to hear from claimants who have had more than one WCA, but he does also want opinions on fairness and effectiveness from claimants who have only had one.
And because personal independence payment, which begins replacing DLA from April of next year, is assessed using a very similar system to the WCA, whatever advantages or failings there are in the WCA will almost certainly be reproduced for DLA to PIP transfers. Because of the dramatic effect that DLA/PIP in particular has on living standards, your evidence could literally change people’s lives.
So, if you’ve had a WCA, please complete the questionnaire. And if you can post details on forums you use, forward this newsletter to a friend and ask any charities you’re involved with to encourage members to take part as well, we can ensure that Harrington hears the truth.
TWO TV INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE WCA
Thanks to Benefits and Work member papasmurf for alerting us to two programmes about the WCA both being broadcast on Monday 30 July.
Dispatches. 8pm, Channel 4
“Using undercover filming, reporter Jackie Long investigates the shocking processes used to assess whether sickness and disability benefit claimants should be declared fit for work.”
Disabled or faking it? 8.30pm, BBC2
“Panorama investigates the government's plans to end the so-called 'sick note culture' and their attempts to get millions of people off disability benefits and into work. In Britain's modern welfare state, millions are being paid to private companies to assess sick and disabled claimants but is the system working? Or are new tests wrongly victimising those who deserve support the most?”