“Labour was right to introduce the test – and we were right to say we would change [it] in the hard, clear light of experience.”
“Our target has always been the government who we don’t think are managing the contract when the tests are going wrong. There are clearly questions to answer for Atos but the government that has to get reform in place.”
~ Liam Byrne
Labour was profoundly, devastatingly, lethally WRONG to introduce the test!
So Labour are now feeling the heat, thanks to the campaigning work of organisations such as Black Triangle and DPAC – all other groups and thousands of individuals who have been active in exposing this scandal from the very outset.
But Labour is being disingenuous and revisionist in the extreme.
We know their history. It’s time they owned up to and confronted it as it’s in the public domain now and we will be unrelenting in exposing the truth until they recant.
To claim that Labour was ‘right’ to introduce the test which are based upon the Biopsychosocial ‘Model’ is an insult to all the victims of their ill-conceived assault on the fundamental human rights of sick and/or disabled people, scores of whom are tragically no longer with us as a direct result. People like Paul Reekie.
Labour will have to do better than this.
We want a full repudiation of the Biopsychosocial ‘Model’ by Labour and a full acknowledgment that they were wrong to adopt it while they were in office.
Labour is just as guilty of having denied our disabilities and impairments as the ConDems. FACT.
They are just as guilty of wrongly assuming, without any medical, empirical or scientific justification that there exists an army of disabled claimants who are scroungers and malingerers.
We have exposed the irrefutable truth that this is, if fact, a lie.
In the matter of apportioning blame Labour must take its full share of responsibility.
The WCA cannot be ‘reformed’! It must be scrapped with immediate effect as we, our sister organisation Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and the the British Medical Association demand.
It is the WCA test itself and the ideological assumptions underpinning the BPS Model that is the real problem here. It is this that must go.
In the meantime, we as disabled people continue to fight on. We do this by uniting the broad mass of civil society behind the truth and righteousness of our cause.
We continue to isolate the Government, DWP, and AtoS whilst also exposing the behind-the-scenes work of multinational insurance companies such as Unum in the privatisation of our welfare state.
We intend to see to it that the DWP, AtoS and Unum’s work becomes impossible as ever increasing numbers of Health Care Professionals refuse to prostitute their labour in the service of what amounts to fascist policies and practices.
Labour need us more that we need them.
Byrne’s weasel words cut no ice.
By stubbornly continuing to support the ‘principle’ of the ‘assessments’ he and his party remain complicit in the grave harm that is being done daily and they continue to insult and disregard disabled people and their allies in the BMA.
This is simply not good enough.
Labour will call on Thursday for a “fast and fundamental” review of the test that determines who is eligible for sickness benefits, acknowledging that the policy the party introduced while in government is not working.
Launching a consultation with disability campaigners in Glasgow, the shadow work and pensions secretary, Liam Byrne, will defend his party’s decision to bring in the Work Capability Assessment, which was designed to reduce the benefits bill, but will argue that the system needs to be reformed.
Speaking on Wednesday, Byrne said: “We have to be brave enough to say that even with initiatives we produced that are not working, we need to change them.
“We are now confronted with very clear evidence that it is simply not working. Labour was right to introduce the test – and we were right to say we would change [it] in the hard, clear light of experience.
“That experience is telling us now that the test puts a bureaucracy against disabled people. It doesn’t put a team behind them, to help disabled people into work.”
The focus of Labour’s criticism is not on Atos, the private IT company initially contracted by Labour to carry out the test, Byrne said. “Our target has always been the government who we don’t think are managing the contract when the tests are going wrong. There are clearly questions to answer for Atos but the government that has to get reform in place.”
The party will call for reform that also looks at the barriers disabled people face when looking for work, rather than simply assessing whether someone is capable or not of working.
Large numbers of people found ineligible for the new employment and support allowance, which replaces incapacity benefit, are appealing against the decision to find them fit for work; about 41% of those refused support go to tribunal and 30% are subsequently granted the benefit. There have been more than 600,000 appeals since the WCA started, costing about £60m a year.
Byrne said he would also be highlighting the combined impact of cuts to disability benefits and services, and argue that they are higher than the new levies imposed on banks.
A discussion paper which will be released by the shadow work and pensions team on Thursday states: “We believe that this government is forcing disabled people to pay for its economic mistakes.” The party has calculated that cuts to social care and disability benefits will total £8.6bn over the course of this parliament.
“As a consequence of government decisions, disabled people are carrying a heavier load than bankers in bring down this debt. In the final year of this parliament, cuts to disability benefits will be 40% more than the amount taken off banks.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said a number of improvements had already been made to the Work Capability Assessment, and a major review of the process was ongoing.
“The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) inherited by this government was not entirely fit for purpose and that is why we have continuously reviewed and refined it,” the spokesperson said.
“Since 2010 we have considerably improved the WCA process. We have made progress in giving people a more tailored and personal service and as a result we are seeing an increase in the number of severely disabled people being given long-term unconditional support.”
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