Monday, 16 August 2010

From welfare to job seekers for many

Being on long term Disability I never like getting mail from the DWP. The UK government over the years are always changing the Benefits system making it more complex and difficult to understand and implement properly. My recent post included a questionnaire form to asses if I am fit for work. Well they are having a laugh I haven't been fit for work since 1996. The London government want to scrap Incapacity Benefit putting sick and disabled people on Employment Support Allowance by October this year. Those who fail the medical test will have to apply for job seekers allowance. If I am called in for a medical it will be carried out by private firm Atos Healthcare.

However sick and disabled people are being 'pressurised to return to work' according to Citizens Advice Scotland.

Citizens Advice Scotland is calling for an independent review of the new Employment and Support Allowance system. Employment Support Allowance (ESA) was introduced 18 months ago to replace incapacity benefit. This was the result of New Labour's Welfare Bill in 2007.

But its new medical assessment has led to allegations by Citizens Advice Scotland that it targets the most vulnerable. A BBC Scotland investigation found that under ESA, more than two thirds of claimants are being found fit to work, almost 20% more than the government had planned.

It is now the most commonly appealed benefit, with 8,000 tribunals heard every month across the UK - and 40% of decisions are being reversed. So far, only those claiming after 2008 have undergone the medical, but longer-term claimants are due to be transferred to ESA in October.

Citizens Advice Scotland said that the system was unfit for purpose and called for an urgent review. ESA's controversial medical assessment is based on a points system. Those scoring 15 or more are entitled to extra money, and support back into employment.Those scoring less than 15 have to apply for jobseekers allowance, or find work.

I will keep readers updated as to how I get on and if or when I am pulled in for a medical.

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