Judicial review: Atos and work capability assessments

First Published on Friday 29th June 2012
The decision on whether to grant leave for judicial review is expected later this week
By Kate Belgrave

Short post on today’s hearing on an application for a judicial review of the controversial Atos work capability assessments:

Went down to the Royal Courts of Justice this morning, where an application had been made by members of the Mental Health Resistance Network for permission for a judicial review of the work capability assessment process.

A judge was deciding whether or not people with mental health issues should be able to apply for a judicial review of the WCA process.

Adam Lotun, press spokesperson for Disabled People Against The Cuts, said that Employment and Support Allowance work capability assessments had developed “into a vehicle that is being used to deny people [with disabilities] their rightful access to funding and resources to assist them in their day-to-day living.”

He said that the other reason for seeking the review was to stop the same damaging process being used to assess people on disability living allowance as DLA is phased out and replaced with the personal independence payment – “we want to stop the killing of the disability living allowance.”

“These (benefits) were brought in to ensure that people of all different levels would be able to get access to funding, or resources, to enable them to cope and exist with the rest of society. Well, now that’s being taken away from us.”

Claimants argue that the work capability assessment process discriminates against people with mental health issues.

Result from the end of the day: 

Adam Lotun texted to say that:

“The judge will give a decision early next week. In closing remarks, the judge said that this is something that involves hundreds and thousands of people,” and that there was concern that people would ultimately fill the court system with individual claims.



Interesting link: How times change. The Conservatives introduced Disability Living Allowance.

Other posts:

Mental Health Northeast survey finds that Atos work capability assessments are having an extremely detrimental effect on people with mental health illnesses. MHNE released some of the survey results at a Hardest Hit conference in Newcastle earlier this month.

MHNE chief executive Lyn Boyd said the organisation decided to run the survey because:

“A lot of our member groups were getting in touch with us and saying that they were really concerned about the people they’re working with and the impact that this [Atos work capability assessments] was having on them.

“And individuals that didn’t belong to any organisation – they were getting in touch with us in very distressed states, not knowing where to turn where to go for help and really just being very distressed – not feeling up to coping with what was happening. So, we wanted to see how widespread the problem was. We wanted to see what effect it was having on people’s social lives, their housing, their mental states.”

Comments from survey respondents included:

“Medical evidence was routinely not sought when needed and often little consideration was given to it when received.”

“It is only at the [work capability assessment] appeal meeting that mental health concerns were taken into account. There was too much focus on physical elements of a person’s illness – for example, questions like: 1) can you walk in a straight line 2) read these words 3) [do you have] any injuries.”

A man called Steve_ (am withholding his name, because he has further WCA sessions to take) has schizophrenia. He said this at the Newcastle Hardest Hit meeting:

“I got five points [at my first work capability assessment] when I needed 15 [text changed after publication – initially said for support group]. The second time – I got none. This time, I felt well enough, with the help of the community mental health team, to go through an appeal… then I lost the tribunal. It took a year, which made me feel worse anyway.

“Then I went on Jobseekers’ Allowance, because the community mental health team said – okay, you’ve recovered sufficiently. You don’t need our help. I think it was to do with the cuts – they couldn’t provide the service. Six months after being on JSA and not getting anywhere fast…I’ve been telling my GP to refer me back to the CMH team, because I’m getting worse….I’m telling you – it’s getting worse.”

Kate Belgrave

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