Labour squashes hope of u-turn on ‘fitness for work’ test ~ Disabled People’s views sought by Black Triangle

Important Note:
Black Triangle is in the process of formulating its political policy with regard to the Labour Party, we would appreciate it it if as many of you as possible left their views and comments on the comment thread for full inclusion in our deliberations.
If you live in Scotland, please also state whether Labour’s unwillingness to pledge to reverse any of the cuts we’re experiencing – or repudiate the hated DWP/AtoS Work Capability Assessment, as our doctors have demanded, will influence your decision in the referendum on Scottish Independence.


Click on the picture of James Purnell MP ('Labour') for the background on 'Labour' and the welfare 'reforms'. Stephen Timms (below) was his sidekick at the DWP as Grayling is to IDS today

Key Labour figures have squashed hopes that the party might call for the controversial “fitness for work” test to be scrapped, despite GPs demanding that it “end with immediate effect”.

GPs at a British Medical Association (BMA) conference voted unanimously last week for the work capability assessment (WCA) to be replaced with a “rigorous and safe system that does not cause avoidable harm” to their patients.

But senior Labour politicians have this week made it clear that they do not agree with the GPs.

The assessment – which tests eligibility for out-of-work disability benefits – was introduced by the Labour government in 2008, and is now a centrepiece of the coalition’s welfare reforms.

But there is mounting evidence that the WCA fails to test accurately disabled people’s ability to work, and has even contributed to or caused the deaths of some of those who have been assessed.

Stephen Timms, Labour’s shadow employment minister, told Disability News Service that the test should be “reformed” rather than scrapped.

He said: “I can well understand why the doctors feel very, very strongly about this but what their motion says is not a practical proposition because the job still has to be done. But they are absolutely right: this system has to be fixed.”

Timms said it was not “practical” to scrap the WCA without considering how to decide “who receives benefits and who doesn’t”.

And he said there were “very clear proposals” on the table to improve how people with mental health and fluctuating conditions were assessed through the WCA, but the government was “sitting on its hands” and refusing to introduce them.

Dame Anne Begg, the disabled Labour MP who chairs the Commons work and pensions committee, raised similar concerns about scrapping the WCA.

She said there was “clearly a knock-on effect” on both the costs faced by the government and the health of disabled people put through the assessment process.

But she said problems were caused not simply by the test itself, but also by the stress caused to large numbers of people on old-style incapacity benefit who were now being reassessed.

She said: “I am not 100 per cent sure that a different assessment would not be causing a lot of the stresses and strains that have been caused by the WCA.”

The motion passed at the GPs’ conference said that the computer-based WCA had “little regard to the nature or complexity of the needs of long term sick and disabled persons”.

The Fed Centre for Independent Living

19 thoughts on “Labour squashes hope of u-turn on ‘fitness for work’ test ~ Disabled People’s views sought by Black Triangle

  1. Lesley says:

    What they are not saying are the contracts with ATOS have been signed and they could not get out of them now even if they wanted to…and it was them who set this outsourced system up in the first place. God alone knows how they intend to get out of the privatised NHS contracts

  2. Graham Askew says:

    New Labour = Tory Lite, another tool of the City of London. We will vote for a party that supports people, green jobs, & vulnerable people.

  3. budgie says:

    So who do the millions who feel victimised and under attack vote for at the next election. Democracy only works if there are credible political Parties offering alternatives. On this issue Labour are not only tacitly supporting the Conservatives and the LibDems, they are also saying you can expect more of the same if they are elected.

  4. Gillian Kalter says:

    Labour should not in any way associate itself with these cruel assessments of disabled people. They need to find a different compassionate and sensitive way of finding the best “work” (e.g. maybe part-time or not at all if in fact there are jobs out there for anyone!) and benefit solution together with each disabled person. Labour will be tainted (certainly in my mind) by associating itself with lazy, draconian, cruel assessments maintained by this destructive coalition government. I was not alive in the 1930s but what is going on in the UK at the moment is frightening and I begin to understand how unspeakable acts can occur under our noses while the population stays passive. We all have a duty of care to disabled and vulnerable people.

  5. Humanity2012 says:

    It confirms the Saying of Never Trust a Politician

    Netherless as the Official Opposition it is their DUTY to be an Opposition Not a
    Stand by the Sidelines whilst the Regime Bulldozes it’s Tyranny through a Parliament
    of Sheep and Millionaires

    We Need in Office a Government Right Now Not Never that will Protect the Poor/Sick/Disabled /Depressed/Vulnerable with a Constitution to Uphold This
    will Scrap the ” Work Capability Assessment ” as Well as People to Not Read Tabloids
    and Bury their Heads in the Sand like Ostriches whilst the Disabled & Vulnerable Suffer
    in the Midst of so much Un Fair Distribution of Wealth

  6. Humanity2012 says:

    It has to be Said that Not only the ” Work Capability Assessment ” and All
    Harrassment Bureaucracy and Paperwork Needs to be Immediately Abolished
    but the British System of Government Needs to be Changed for the Better

    This present Cuckooland ” Parliamentary Democracy ” is a Travesty of Genuine
    Consultation and Accountibility with Politicians Toeing the Party Line putting
    aside the Well Being of the Country and Ordinary People and Parliament still being
    a Bastion of Wealth and Privilege

    What we Need is a Constitution that Guards our Rights and places a Duty upon those
    in Ministerial Cabinet Positions to Uphold these Rights and Govern Properly Not
    just Do what they Wanna Do

    We Need Political and Constitutional Improvement Now Not Never

  7. rusi says:

    I thought this government wanted fairness for working people…what a joke that is! When you’ve worked hard throughout life and then suffer disability, how is it fair to cut esa only for those who have a working partner. The work capability currently used is unfair, unjust and immoral. Fairness, respect and compassion are words politicians know nothing about. They need to live in the real world and live the life of a person placed in the work related group…the ones who are too ill to work in reality but cannot and do not tick boxes on the ATOS system so is declared suitable for work. People who have worked all their lives and become ill and suffer disabilities are the weak scapegoats for benefit cuts and ARE being discriminated against. When politicians defraud the system with expenses… they plead ignorance, it’s a mistake and no big deal. A 2 tier society with politicians who have no conscience for dividing society and picking on those who have tried hard, worked hard and then need support they thought they had when paying their income tax and national insurance contributions for years. Tory, lib dem, labour…what is the difference??? They all look after number 1! Does anyone know of a poor or working class politician these days???

  8. jeffrey davies says:

    yes blaire set atos up and now even new labour wont get rid of them but its ok for them to screw us by evading paying thier taxes billions of pounds by the torys partys supporters and do a single mum ,whos the biggest criminal it beggers belief how can these in power sprout this dribble when its those who do the biggest robbing of the public purse and taxes by not paying them .who in this house is going to kick atos out of britain just as america done with unum they dont want to open htier eyes to whot we want its seems its just them saying mememe snouts in the trough jeff3

  9. bridget price says:

    some of the biggest money makers world wide are insurance companies. After all they do not even have the expense of making anything. They are ghouls feeding on peoples’ fears and misfortunes. They could make enough that way but no they want to make more. The way to do this is to sell insurance but renegue on payouts. UNUM, yes we all know of the fiends, well that is their master plan (they are probably not lone sharks but one piranha in a shoal).
    At the same time governments are truly scared that, as old people no longer conveniently die in a timely fashion, welfare bills will spiral out of control. So they turn to the experts in claims denial. They work out a plausible way to default on the National insurance that we have paid for. (They are in an utter state of panic and do not know what else to do). The brief for ATOS never was to illicit truth but to produce a way to use the gutter press to vilify the disabled. There is also an attack on the NHS. Down the line it will be the old folk but there are a lot of them and as everyone will be one one day votes become an issue. Softly softly catchy monkey. By the time most people catch on that it is not some other person but them who is denied their rightful claims payout, it will be too late.

    ATOS are doing exactly the job DWP ordered. They are starting the process of turning the masses against anyone making a claim on the insurance they and their families paid into. Neither the government that started the process, nor this one, has any intention of taking any notice of the GPs.

    And the likes of UNUM sitting on the sidelines pushing this are set to make a killing from the killing. When we see that our National insurance payments will no longer cover healthcare or unemployment we will seek and pay for further insurance. Of course the fact they they will no more deliver protection than the government will be hidden from view.

  10. bridget price says:

    The above is the perfection of Capitolism. Taking peoples’ money from them for a false promise. Making money from thin air.

  11. kath says:

    Fuck the Labour Party, they are no longer fir for purpose. we eiither need a new party or to take back this one!

    1. Lovejoy says:

      I find it annoying that the Labour Party and Conservative Party consider themselves people with a better understanding of sickness and disability than GPs. These people can’t even work out which of their houses they live in!

  12. james says:

    New Deal for Disabled was initiall set up by labour and they implemented the Disability welfare reforms ,apart from Dennis Skinner MP for Bolsover(I am not a resident of Bolsover),I would not trust them full stop

  13. kasbah says:

    Hmmm, they are more concerned with looking after pet concepts(WCA) than people. How dangerous and how childish and how hellish for people like me who have been assessed incorrectly. Who would they trust most to assess them? They are out of touch and running scared.

  14. w hawkins says:

    The main issue that we face is that the eton set have taken control of the politics and policies of all three main political parties, hence three conservative parties, note the absence of any opposition to the plebicide against the poor and vulnerable in our society by labour or liberal (not even to score political points). This government is going to force a revolution as fight or die, this has nothing to do with austerity (which could be solved overnight by the reclaiming of tax avoidance by the wealthy to the tune of £128 billion).

  15. jay says:

    As the comments make crystal clear above there seems so little difference between the major parties currently. People gave the Lib Dems a chance at the last election because they were fed up with Labour & Conservatives and were rewarded with total betrayal.
    These three parties are corrupt at the top, perhaps wholly apart from a few individuals that have morals and a sense of justice.

    I will vote for independence not because I particularly wish to leave the UK but what other choice is there.
    No effective opposition party exists in the UK.

    The comment above mine spells out chillingly and accurately it really is a choice of fight or die.
    Only mass civil disobedience can effect the change we need, hit the rich in their pockets. It is the only thing they understand.

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