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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

ESA/WCA - Government Philosophy

The fact that Atos has been passing large numbers of people fit for work when they are clearly not by any reasonable definition of both ‘sickness/disability’ and ‘work’ has understandably caused great upset and huge criticism.  Let’s just be sure however that it is directed appropriately. 
Atos can legitimately be held accountable for undertaking a WCA poorly, but just remember where the overall direction and guidance comes from – DWP!  There is a strong suspicion that Atos and/or their so-called HCPs are in some way financially rewarded for passing people fit when they are not, but I do not believe this is the case. 
Firstly, if it is despite the denials, sooner or later it would come to light and the Government would be crucified both for agreeing the practice and, worse still, lying. 
Secondly, there doesn’t need to be an overt incentive when the underlying message is so clear.  The quotation below is from a DWP document published in 2008 and it explains the Government’s position clearly.  Remember too who was in Government in 2008!
Employment and Support Allowance
Equality Impact Assessment
March 2008
“Linked to the overall objectives of the new benefit, the starting point for the assessment will be that the overwhelming majority of customers are capable of some work, given the right support. This will lead to better employment outcomes for disabled people. Treating people in line with their capabilities, instead of making assumptions based on their condition, will have a positive impact on the attitudes of others to disabled people.
This is a sea change in the way the social security system interacts with disabled people and people with health conditions, and will promote wider societal change in attitudes to disabled people and work.”

If you are wondering who the bloody hell the “customer” is, it is you.

There is of course the bit about "given the right support", but that is another story.  On the Government's own admission, without it the theory falls apart.  QED?

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