Roger has welcomed a decision by the Court of Appeal upholding a previous ruling that work capability assessments disadvantage people who are mentally ill or have learning difficulties. He has been concerned for some time that these assessments are not designed with the best interests of these vulnerable individuals in mind, leading to unwell people being deprived of support to which they are entitled.
Mental health charities including Rethink Mental Illness, Mind and the National Autistic Society have welcomed the ruling, and are calling on the Government to immediately stop using this dysfunctional assessment process. However, the Government refuse to recognise the truth of this finding and are refusing to pause reassessments in response to the court’s decision. A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said that there will be no effect on the day-to-day business of assessments, which would continue as usual.
The ruling took place in response to a judicial review initiated by two claimants, where the original judgment was that the assessments are unfair to those with mental health problems. Rather than accepting this ruling and changing the assessments to avoid disadvantaging people who are already vulnerable, the Department for Work and Pensions appealed against the judgment, causing the judicial review to be put on hold. This legal process can now resume, with a final ruling expected to be given in 2014 unless the DWP brings further legal action to delay the process.
Roger has tabled a written Parliamentary Question to the Department for Work and Pensions, asking the Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith, how he will change the way ESA assessments are carried out in light of the ruling and asking him to make a statement.
You can read Mind’s response to the ruling here: www.mind.org.uk/wcajr