Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) Press Release:

We read with interest the piece in the Independent by Rachel Reeves and Kate Green regarding Labour’s response to the Work Capability Assessment [1]

Labour should realise that disabled people are deeply distrustful of any Labour reform of a Work Capability Assessment system, which Labour introduced in the Welfare Act of 2007 with the stated aim of removing 1 million claimants from the benefit system [3].

Our position has been and will be that the Work Capability Assessment is deeply flawed in its basic concept, not just in terms of the details of its delivery, and inclusion in the workplace for disabled people cannot simply be achieved by a ‘back to work’ test.

In the Reclaiming Our Futures, Disabled People’s Manifesto [4], we state that a priority demand from government is that:

A comprehensive and strategic plan of action is developed with disabled people and our organisations to tackle the discrimination and exclusion disabled people face in work and employment including: increasing quality and range of personalised support available to disabled people, strengthening disabled employees rights and tackling employer discrimination and poor practice

Other key demands include that:

Economic productivity must not be the only measure of people’s worth and value, volunteering offers as much value to society as paid employment. While we recognise that volunteering can offer additional skills, it should not be the default option for disabled people because of our exclusion from paid work

There must be policy and media recognition that there will always be disabled people who are unable or too ill to work. These individuals must be supported by a publicly funded system. They should not be penalised or demonised as they are currently.

For true inclusion in the workplace for disabled people a wider approach is necessary including but not limited to:

• Will Labour commit to the restoration of Disabled Student’s Allowance,
• Will Labour commit to the restoration of the Independent Living Fund,
• Will Labour commit to the extension of Access to Work (AtW) to include unpaid voluntary positions,
• Will Labour commit to the reversal of the reduction of people who currently receive DLA, but will not receive PIP and also lose their Motability access,
• Will Labour commit to the reinstatement of the requirement for councils to produce equality schemes on employment and access
• Will Labour commit to the provision of accessible transport.
• Will Labour commit to the reinstatement of “day one” protection from unfair dismissal in employment law
• Will Labour commit to the provision of Employment Tribunals enforcing mandatory organisation-wide measures on preventing disability discrimination
• Will Labour commit to the provision that all government contracts, at a national, regional and local level, are only awarded to companies that are fulfilling measurable equality targets for the employment of disabled people

(for further points see reference 2)

These currently are some of the barriers to inclusion in the workplace for disabled people, and they will not be fixed by simply amending the WCA. The issue must be seen within the context of the wider interconnected system of barriers in place. It must be seen in terms of what a large majority of disabled people have already identified as key problems.

In terms of inclusion we also need from Labour, a recognition that for many disabled people to be able to work there has to be a nationally transportable social care system with a guarantee that people would keep the same levels of funding wherever they needed to move to work.

We need recognition that there is an onus on government and employers to fully accept the spirit of the Equality Act 2010 [4] with its requirement to the opening of work opportunity to disabled people. Without this, no “fit for work test” aimed at cutting disability benefits will make any impact whatsoever on the numbers of disabled people who can attain and sustain employment.

We also need from Labour a stronger recognition that there are many disabled people who cannot enter the work place and should not have to live in fear of being pressured into doing so.

There is much that the article leaves out and that leaves us with a number of serious concerns and questions.

While we are not yet prepared to endorse in any way Labour’s new approach to the Work Capability Assessment, we do see the article by Rachel Reeves and Kate Green as a helpful starting point for discussions on the future of inclusion of disabled people, who want and are able to work, in the workplace and we would welcome an opportunity to meet with them and discuss this further. We would like meet with Kate Green and Rachel Reeves to ask the following questions:

1. Will Labour commit to stop spending public money on private contractors and return any assessments of disabled people back to GPs with medical evidence taken into account as well as give a commitment to look at the barriers to work for disabled people who can and want to work (in line with the social model of disability)?

2. Will Labour commit to a time and date to talk with DPAC, My Legal, the Mental Health Resistance Network, Black Triangle, Deaf activists, those with learning difficulties ( with an outreach of ½ a million disabled people) to listen to the views of the largest network of grass-roots disabled people on the WCA and ESA?

3. If Labour are committed to scrapping the WCA when will Deaf and disabled people, and those with mental health issues have sight of the detail of any alternative Labour is proposing?

4. If Labour accepts the harm, devastation and premature deaths that have been an outcome of the WCA why have they chosen to suspend their prospective parliamentary candidate for St Austell and Newquay, Deborah Hopkins for speaking out in public about the harm caused by the WCA.

5. Will Labour address the disproportionate harm that the WCA and sanctions on ESA and JSA are causing to all disabled people, in particular those with mental health issues and learning difficulties?

6. We along with many others insisted that a centralised Independent Living Fund for Scotland be established and it has been done.

They have also promised to re-open ILF to new users, with a commitment of additional funds and recognition of its importance to independent living and obligations to article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Why has the Labour Party not promised to re-establish it south of the border?

Many of the Statements included in this response are taken from the UK Disabled Peoples’ Reclaiming our Futures Manifesto and are endorsed by a UK network of disabled people and Deaf and Disabled Peoples Organisations, including: ALLFIE, Inclusion London, Equal Lives, DPAC, Inclusion Scotland, Disability Wales and the TUC Disabled Workers Committee [2], who between them reach several million disabled voters.

References

1. How Labour would reform the Work Capability Assessment http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/how-labour-would-reform-the-work-capability-assessment-9265479.html
2. The Reclaiming Our Futures, Disabled People’s Manifesto http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/UK-Disabled-People-s-Manifesto-Reclaiming-Our-Futures.pdf
3. The Green Paper: The new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work. 2006 http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://dwp.gov.uk/docs/a-new-deal-for-welfare-empowering-people-to-work-full-document.pdf
4. Equality Act 2010 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents

 

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

       
  • As a disabled person I would be like a turkey voting for Christmas if I voted for the political class jobseekers in Labour.

    ‘ Tougher than the Tories ‘ … The shortest suicide note in political history.

  • Jen

    I don’t trust New Labour at all any more, especially when I read the shadow minister said they were going to be even tougher! New Labour also are just as in with ATOS and Unum and the likes as the Tories. The Greens are independent and more socially orientated and far more supportive of the disabled and are more open to debate and what needs to be done – I want a proper safety net, care more co-ordinated with NHS and actually changing things so the workplace is more accessible, so I’ve switched and joined the Greens. Mostly as they were so supportive of the WOW petition. Labour has pretty much stood silent through most of the atrocities inflicted on the sick and disabled. Only a few rogue MP’s have been vocal. It’s not enough, social responsibility used to be at the core of Labour, now it’s a minority fringe. They have done little to counteract the hideous scrounger hate rhetoric from the Tories and for that I’m not sure I can forgive them. It’s done so much damage. Labour will have to speak loudly with actions to ever win me back.

  • carefix

    The Government’s incapacity benefits scam is not very obvious at first. The spin is that the number of sick and disabled have increased dramatically over the years and that as medicine has improved one would expect the opposite. Therefore many of the sick and disabled must be faking it.

    This propaganda is supported by pseudo-statistics, as you might remember:

    “There were only 900,000 IB claimants in 1979. Why are there 3,000,000 now?”

    and:

    “After two years on the benefit people are far more likely to die or retire than ever work again”

    The point I make it is not that there is something wrong with the motivations of sick and disabled people but something wrong with the implications of the statistics.

    The first statement omits something rather important: There were only 380,000 people on IB in 1973! So why don’t the government propagandists use this as the starting year? The answer to this one is that it is a little too close to the starting year for NI based Incapacity Benefit: 1971. People might become suspicious and actually think. You see there were zero people on Incapacity Benefit in August 1971 because it hadn’t started! Further when it was introduced it came with a condition: A claimant must not only be sick or disabled enough but there was, and still is, a second condition which needed to be met: The claimant had to have made enough NI contributions in the previous two tax years prior to the year of claim! At a stroke two generations of sick and disabled claimants were disallowed from making a claim even if they had paid over forty years of contributions and had to give up work prior to about 1969. The increase in NI based IB claims since the introduction of this benefit was designed from the start to increase as this one rule simply kept people from claiming benefit in the early years. Of course this didn’t stop the government taking the NI contributions which it didn’t have to pay out to sick and disabled claimants. A nice little earner for them!

    The second statement also misses out a rather important point: It forgets to mention that when the statement was made that fully 70% of claimants left within the first two years of a claim! More deception. Further only about 16% of claimants stayed on benefit until death or retirement. Now if one considers that sick and disabled people tend to be older and with reduced life expectancy it is hardly surprising that so many should retire or die.

    The government continues to decieive the people into paying vast quantities of tax and NI contributions to pay for benefits which as a whole are barely received. In the last year before ESA only 4.5% of the NI take was paid out to IB claimants. No private company, even ATOS, would get away with such blatant robbery.

    As for medical input. The entire medical industry including most especially the medical professions are engaged in the biggests systematic genocide for profit that has ever taken place on the planet. They are very largely responsible for causing so much chronic ill health in the country. Most should be taken to the Hague, tried and executed for crimes against humanity…

    But that truth is another story.

  • jeffrey davies

    tony blair has left his tory mark in the new little tory labour party until such times those blairites are shown the door then im afraid it will be more the same just trying to hide the fact they want sick lame and lazy people gone jeff3

  • LABOUR NEED TOSHOW GUTS AND SCRAP THE MONEYPIT UNIVERSAL CREDIT THAT IS THE TOUGH THING TO DO AND SAVE BILLIONSCONTINUING TORY BULLYING OF DISABLEDWOULD SEE LABOUR CONSIGNED TO OPPOSITION FOR GENERATIONS 1.4 MILLION DISABLED PEOPLE ARE ELIGIBLE TO HELPSWING MARGINALS WITH THEIR VOTES, NO PARTY SEEMS TO WANT THEMAPOLOGIES FOR CAPS LOCK ERROR DUE TO MY SPASM