The government’s test to assess whether individuals are suitable for employment is an ‘inhumane ordeal’ for homeless people, the head of a charity said today.
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis, said the work capability assessment is unsuitable for homeless people and does not take into account the problems they face.
Speaking at the charity’s annual conference, she said: ‘Homeless people are facing stressful and traumatic interviews from assessors who are compelled to carry out a process that ignores the fact that homelessness has a massive effect on individual’s health and fitness for work.’
The WCA was introduced in October 2008 and is used when someone is applying for employment and support allowance. It can include a medical assessment to investigate someone’s illness or disability and ‘test’ whether they are capable for work.
Crisis has carried out a study to assess single homeless people’s experiences of the WCA. It found 97 per cent of nearly 200 respondents found the test caused them stress and anxiety.
Forty per cent of respondents felt the survey assessors did not believe them, and 76 per cent appealed the decision. Nationally 40 per cent of appeals are successful, in a process that costs £50 million a year.
Crisis is calling for homelessness to be taken into account as part of the assessment process, as well as more general improvements to the system. It also wants to see independent quality checks introduced to ensure assessments are being carried out fairly.