The truth about Employment Support Allowance

Congratulations to Dame Anne Begg who has finally spoken the truth about the Employment Support Allowance  “work related activity” group (WRAG). Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Dame Anne Begg, chair of the work and pensions select committee,  said last Friday that large groups of people appear to have been “parked” on the benefit in the “work-related activity” group, which covers all those found neither to be fully fit for work nor so disabled that they cannot be expected to look for employment. Disability activists across the country will be as delighted as Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch that politicians are finally admitting to the false premise on which Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was based. ESA is a failed experiment conducted live on sick and disabled people. Sick and disabled people who are assigned to the WRAG are found not fully fit for work. Almost none of them are finding work. Yet the government is sanctioning and stopping their benefits; telling them they are ‘expected’ to find work. This is cruel, it defies logic and is causing tremendous anxiety for claimants. They are being threatened and required to do things that they are not able to do because of their physical or mental condition. ESA was designed using flawed premises and has failed. It needs to be completely rethought. Meanwhile Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch call upon this government and the next to take responsibility for this disastrous mistake. We call upon them to introduce the following immediate reforms to prevent disabled people having to live this nightmare existence while the politicians responsible sort it out. . Reduce the...

Tom Shakespeare on Enabling Equality: from disabling barriers to equal participation

Pat’s Petition team and Carerwatch would like to congratulate Tom Shakespeare on the ground breaking lecture ( read in full here ) that he gave to the British Sociological Association on Friday ( podcast will be available soon ). It was a breath of fresh air in a debate that has been hi-jacked by politicians and subverted for their own ends. In his speech Tom Shakespeare emphasised that: I do not think that equal treatment will liberate all disabled people, in the same way as it has the potential to liberate other disadvantaged groups.  I believe that a level playing field is not enough to equalize opportunity for disabled people.  It may work for those disabled people who do not experience major limitations in their functional abilities, but it will not work for people with more significant or complex impairments. That may sound controversial and does not sit easily with the models proposed by disability ‘leaders’. But it is reflected in the statistics for attitudes to disability amongst disabled people: •46% of disabled people believe that health problems alone are responsible for them not leading as full a life as non-disabled people •Of those disabled respondents who said they were not able to lead a full life, 87 per cent said it was because of their disability, while only two per said that it was due to attitudes and barriers in society and 8 per cent said it was due to both (ODI, 2008). Government policies follow directly from the belief that disabled people can be liberated to compete in the competitive labour market on equal terms.  We have always argued that...

Campaign Statement for the General Election

  Pat’s Petition called for a Cumulative Impact Assessment and are delighted that there is now talk of establishing one through the EHRC. We understand that after the debacle that is welfare reform – a new government will want to take a very careful long term view as to how to get things right. The long term solution will be more complicated than simply reforming the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The WCA has to test for something meaningful. The Employment Support Allowance (ESA) groups at the moment are meaningless. People in the Work Related Activity group (WRAG) can’t move to work. The new government has to understand that sometimes impairment does actually impair and lead to extra costs to the employer. As a society we need to think about whether it is government or employers who will pick up any on going extra costs of impairment when employing a disabled person. The government will probably have to intervene in the labour market to solve this problem. Until these extra costs are openly debated and it is decided who will pay – the government cannot continue to air brush the costs of impairment away because they are an inconvenient truth. They cannot continue to use ESA to try and force disabled people in to a labour market where they cannot compete. This is the Elephant in the room. But disabled people can’t wait for the long term solutions. They are in crisis. Carers and disabled people have always faced long term poverty and lack of support. Welfare reform has made it far worse. ESA has added undue stress and pressure and...

WOW petition has passed 1st stage in Parliament

  Many thanks go to the team, and all supporters, behind WoW petition. Pat joined them in London today and will give an update on her return. Although poorly attended by MP’s, those that did speak spoke of the real horror stories they are hearing from some of their constituents. You can read it in full here   and watch it on Parliament TV here ( debate starts at 1 hour 47 mins ) We hope everyone has a safe journey home and look forward to their reports.          ...

Inquiry – Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments

With  reasonable adjustments many disabled people can work as productively as anyone else so that they can compete in the competitive  labour market on an equal playing field. But many others can’t. This Elephant is not being addressed. It is sitting squarely in the road stopping further progress. Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch are submitting evidence to the Inquiry into  Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments being conducted by the Commons Select Committee for the   Department of Work and Pensions. Full details on link below We urge every one concerned about disabled people and carers to do the  same http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/esa-wca-inq-2014/ We will be drawing attention to the Elephant in the  room. Some disabled people have an impairment which means that, although they  can and would like to do some work, even with reasonable adjustments they cannot work as productively as people who do not have impairments. This means  that the potential employer will be faced with extra costs or losses.     Employers recruit through the mechanism of a competitive labour market and this puts barriers in the way of disabled people   who are not able to work as productively. No effort has been made to name this problem or to solve it. Who should bear the extra costs or losses to the employer of taking a worker who cannot be as productive because of their impairments? Until this problem is named and addressed the progress of disabled people in to the workforce is blocked. The Elephant is sitting in the road. As disability campaigners, we do not want to  undermine the image of disabled people who, with reasonable adjustments and enlightened attitudes, can compete in the labour market. But not speaking up  for disabled...