The UK Government’s review of welfare benefits is not working claims a Dundee MSP using as evidence a letter from the UK Minister for Employment which concedes that the reforms, incorporating new Work Capability Assessments, “have had an adverse effect”.
The MSP was commenting after a climb-down yesterday by the Department of Work and Pensions over their earlier decision that a 24 year-old man in the city who is deaf, blind and unable to walk or talk was capable of work.
The DWP announced yesterday that they had re-instated his benefits.
Dundee City West MSP Joe FitzPatrick said: “We are aware of an increasing number of cases where people on long-term disability benefits are being made more anxious by the new procedures, particularly the new ESA50 questionnaire form which has to be returned before medical scrutiny and a subsequent face-to-face medical assessment can take place.
“What is even more worrying is that the person in charge, Employment Minister Chris Grayling himself, admits that the new procedures had have an adverse effect on the actual time taken for medical assessments.
“Nor can he say how many Work Capability Assessments are being delayed or provide any information on how long a claimant might have to wait to undergo the WCA.
“It is only a few months since we had the debacle where the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) warned the UK Government’s Work Capability Assessments for Employment Support Allowance were flawed and not properly able to assess mental health.
“At that time, Scotland Office Minister David Mundell was completely unable to answer basic questions such as how many people in Scotland were going to be affected by the benefits cap. Now we have the Minister in charge, Chris Grayling admitting the adverse effects his new assessment process is having upon the vulnerable.
“Return-to-work initiatives can benefit both the economy and the individual but people should only return to the workplace when they are genuinely able to do so and when adequate support measures are available. We need real guarantees that people living with genuine incapacity and ill-health are not to be made more stressed and anxious by these new welfare assessments.”