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Thursday, 27 October 2011

FoI Act Request - Interpretation of (new) Activities 1 & 2

27 October 2011

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

This descriptor used to relate to walking, but now uses the word “mobilisation” which I assume is intended to mean movement by any appropriate means.

Q1: Can you provide an exact definition?

I have been assessed in a recent WCA as 1(e), which means that on this activity, my condition presents no impairment to me working and as a result I was attributed no points. The distance threshold is at least 200 meters. I cannot walk even with a walking stick any more than about 25m without severe pain and having to rest – over this there is no dispute and my Decision Maker (DM) was happy to concede that this might be the case, but pointed out that it is irrelevant. He explained that the assessment was based on the fact
that he believed I could cover 200m+ self-propelled in a wheelchair, even though I have never used one and none of the medical experts I have seen nor the Atos HCP have ever suggested I should. On this basis, any person with lower body problems of any severity, with any level of pain would be regarded as being able to work as long as they have use of their arms to self-propel a wheelchair. The justification is apparently that I did not declare
any particular problems with my upper body at my WCA. true, but there was no conversation at all anywhere close to this - the Q&A in this regard was no more than my ability to work at a desk and make a cup of tea – nothing as strenuous as propelling a wheelchair.

Q2: Is this the correct and universal interpretation applied through the whole of DWP?

When discussing the distance thresholds (50m, 100m, 200m) the DM stated that in their opinion the fact that I could drive a car indicated that I could propel myself in a wheelchair over 200m+.  This “correlation” does not appear in any manual and was just his opinion which he said may or may not be shared by other DMs. He admitted this makes the DM process highly subjective and was surprised that I thought it could be anything else. He acknowledged that the outcome of my assessment could well have been different from another DM.

Q3: Is this suggested correlation between driving and wheelchair usage sanctioned by DWP management and if so why is it not included
in any manual or guide?

Q4: Do you regard its use with all of the assumptions in contains
as fair on claimants and legitimate?

Q5: How can you guarantee consistency in decisions with the level
of subjectivity he acknowledged exists.

We then discussed my zero points on the standing/sitting descriptor along similar lines. He acknowledged that the assessment was probably in error and 9 points was probably more correct, but as my total was going to be less than 15, it didn't matter what score was recorded.

Q6: Does this misrepresentation of points reflect departmental
policy and if so, in which manual is it articulated?

What I am looking for here is a clear explanation of how the treatment I have received reflects department policy, not just a statement of what that policy is. i.e. is what I have experienced precisely what you would have expected and if not what steps you will be taking to address.

Yours faithfully,

PS.  For Activity 1, please confirm the view of my DM that I am more able to work in a wheelchair than without one as I will need to find out how to get one.

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