From 2013: DWP Toughens Fitness-for-Work Test

Maximus, who are due to take over from Atos as the administrators of the government’s fitness-for-work test, have tried to deflect criticism by stating that they are just following the DWP’s orders. It is they, who are really culpable, and so should be the target of criticism. As Mike has pointed out, this is just a version of the Nazis’ ‘We were only following orders’ defence at the Nuremberg trials. Maximus deserve all the criticism they get, as they are a commercial company that chose to bid for the contract. Unlike soldiers under the command of their officers, they had a free choice. Nobody forced them. They were entirely willing.

The company is, however, quite right in pointing out the culpability of the DWP. And they certainly deserve all the blame they get and more. It is indeed the DWP that sets the test. And this story from Private Eye’s 15th January – 7th February 2013 issue shows that when they don’t think it is harsh enough, they change it to make it even more punitive.

Fitness To Work
Ill Thought Out

Despite cross-party condemnation last week over the way thousands of sick and disabled people have had their benefits axed after the private company Atos wrongly found them fit for work, the government is trying to sneak in new measures which will make the problem worse.

It has tabled amendments to employment and support allowance legislation which, academics and campaigners say, will lead to even greater suffering by the genuinely ill.

Plans include withdrawing benefit if an assessor decides that a claimant’s ability to work could be improved by aids, such as guide dogs, walking sticks or prosthetic limbs – whether or not the claimant has access to them or can use them. Atos assessors already have the power to carry out an “imaginary wheelchair test” when they decide that a person could work if they used a wheelchair – even if they do not have one.

Under the changes people will also lose benefit if an assessor decides that adjustments could be made for them in the workplace – whether or not those changes have been made. The amendments also include plans to consider physical and mental health problems separately, instead of looking at the combined effects of mental and physical health on a person’s ability to work. As is common knowledge, some disease impact on both mental and physical health, and treatments for one can severely impact on the other.

The changes, due to take effect at the end of the month after no public debate, have been condemned by the thinktank Ekklesia, which says they fly in the face of “coalition claims to be protecting and supporting sick and disabled people in a climate of austerity, cutbacks and hardship.”

MP Tom Greatrex, a critic of Atos, said: “The fact that people can be assessed as fit for work on the basis of an imaginary guide dog, without taking any account of the availability of guide dogs and the time taken to train both dogs and users, highlights just how far the DWP seem to be prepared to go to find people fit for work without the support they need to make work a reality.”

Last week the Commons heard of many cases where paitents had died, or committed suicide, after being assessed as fit for work following “a demeaning process that was making sick people sicker”.l Under coalition proposals there will be many more such cases.

This fully demonstrates the DWP’s responsibility for the stringency of the tests, and their aim of making sure as few people as possible actually pass them. Atos whistleblowers have stated that there were quotas set of how many people should be found fit for work. This indicates that not only is this true, but even then the government tried to move the goalposts.

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2 Responses to “From 2013: DWP Toughens Fitness-for-Work Test”

  1. sdbast Says:

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  2. A6er Says:

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

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