Government research has provided stark new evidence that disabled people found fit for work through a controversial new assessment are struggling to find jobs.
The research by the Institute for Employment Studies for the Department for Work and Pensions interviewed 3,650 people who had applied for employment and support allowance (ESA), the replacement for incapacity benefit (IB).
Of those found “fit for work”, only 13 per cent were in work by the time they were questioned at least six months later, with half insisting that they were off work because they were sick or disabled and another 28 per cent saying they were unemployed.
The survey – carried out between December 2009 and Feb 2010 – also provides further evidence that the work capability assessment (WCA) is failing to reflect people’s impairments accurately.
Only 29 per cent of those found “fit for work” felt that the healthcare professional who carried out the assessment understood their condition, although the levels of satisfaction were far higher (71 per cent) among those found not fit for work.
And 87 per cent of those found fit for work felt the WCA report did not reflect their condition well, rising to 93 per cent of those with a mental health condition.
The disability poverty charity Disability Alliance said it was not surprised that many disabled people found fit for work were failing to find jobs.
Neil Coyle, DA’s director of policy, said: “Sadly, there are not enough appropriate jobs available and this will get worse through public and private sector job cuts and changes to programmes of support for disabled people.”
Coyle said DA was also not surprised that the WCA had “once again been found wanting”, because it “consistently under-assesses disabled people’s needs and routinely finds people with significant health problems (or) impairments fully fit for work”.
He called on the government to address the problems with the WCA before it starts its main programme of reassessing those on “old-style” IB next spring.
A DWP spokesman said: “We know there have been concerns around the WCA which is why employment minister Chris Grayling asked Professor Malcolm Harrington to conduct a thorough independent review, involving a number of charities representing disabled people, to iron out any issues and recommend any changes.
“The new Work Programme, which will come on stream next year will ensure that everyone who can work will get the help and support they need to get the skills and training which will make them job ready.”
18 November 2010