The Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) fit for work decisions are based on the Work Capability Assessments that disabled people are put through as part of the ESA process. But these assessments have now been criticised as inadequate and insensitive, not just by the Citizens Advice service but by medical experts, leading academics and even by the senior government advisers who devised the system in the first place.
The system’s inadequacy is shown by the astonishingly high rate of success for those who appeal. In Scotland, where CAB advisers have helped people with their appeal, 70 per cent have succeeded. The government itself has admitted that 40 per cent of all appeals are successful.
The government has no knowledge of the reasons why 36 per cent dropped out of the application process. These figures show that there is something badly wrong with the ESA and decision-making process.
The government’s aim here is to get people off benefit and into suitable work where they can. We are fully behind that principle. People who can work should be helped to find suitable work – that is an admirable objective and we support it completely. But it is very clear that the ESA is unfit for purpose. Too many people who are genuinely too sick to work are found fit for work.
CAS Chief Executive