A SOUTH Derbyshire councillor has joined calls for complicated work capability assessment tests to be scrapped after it emerged people who were unable to work could have their benefits stopped.
Kevin Richards said the system was unfair and needed to be made more straight forward.
It came after GPs voted unanimously in favour of the tests ‘ending with immediate effect’ and South Derbyshire’s Citizen Advice Bureau raised concerns over the issue.
People who are disabled or have a health condition are eligible to claim for employment and support allowance after taking part in a work capability assessment, to prove they unable to work.
Under previous regulations, claimants with a National Insurance contribution record received support indefinitely — as long as they continued to be assessed as having limited capability to work.
But now support will only be given for 12 months, after which the benefits will be stopped — regardless of the claimant’s ability to work.
Councillor Richards, Labour leader on South Derbyshire District Council, joined criticisms of the system, and said the Calls for changes to work capability assessments number of successful appeals against loss of benefits showed it didn’t work.
He said: “It’s unjust — it doesn’t give a true reflection of people’s disabilities.
“There needs to be a true assessment which reflects disabilities. The questions are too ambiguous. There is an attitude that people on benefits were scroungers and didn’t have genuine disabilities.”
The assessments were lambasted by GPs at the British Medical Association’s Local Medical Committee conference in Liverpool where they labelled them ‘inadequate’ and said they could have a ‘devastating effect on patients’ medical and physical health’.
South Derbyshire Citizen’s Advice Bureau also raised its concerns.
Glyn Bird, supervisor at the bureau, based in Swadlincote, said: “There has been a staggering number of people coming to the bureau not knowing what they can do next — or how they are supposed to cope with a dramatic loss in income.”