Monday, August 16, 2010

Sickness Benefits - Tougher Medicals

The Benefits and Work Forum say in their Ausust newsletter, which can be seen HERE paint a barbaric picture of proposed new draconian medicals for claimants of sickness benefits:

"“The shock plans, for ‘simplifying’ the work capability assessment for employment and support allowance (ESA) include docking points from amputees who can lift and carry with their stumps. Claimants with speech problems who can write a sign saying, for example, ‘The office is on fire!’ will score no points for speech and deaf claimants who can read the sign will lose all their points for hearing.

“Meanwhile, for ‘health and safety reasons’ all points scored for problems with bending and kneeling are to be abolished and claimants who have difficulty walking can be assessed using imaginary wheelchairs.

“Claimants who have difficulty standing for any length of time will, under the plans, also have to show they have equal difficulty sitting, and vice versa, in order to score any points. And no matter how bad their problems with standing and sitting, they will not score enough points to be awarded ESA.

“In addition, almost half of the 41 mental health descriptors for which points can be scored are being removed from the new ‘simpler’ test, greatly reducing the chances of being found incapable of work due to such things as poor memory, confusion, depression and anxiety.

“There are some improvements to the test under the plans, including exemptions for people likely to be starting chemotherapy and more mental health grounds for being admitted to the support group. But the changes are overwhelmingly about pushing tens of thousands more people onto JSA.”

That’s what we warned back in April. Well, those same new labour ‘simplifications’ have now been adopted by the coalition and the regulations have been put before the social security advisory committee (SSAC) for comment. SSAC can make recommendations to the government about whether changes to the law should go ahead, but they cannot force the government to back down.

Very few ESA claimants will be left unaffected by these changes which will come into force on 28 March 2011, in time to disqualify thousands more incapacity benefits claimants transferring to ESA."

Where on earth do they think the jobs will come from? And even if there were jobs, how many employers are likely to take on people as sick as that? In recession, you need everything your employees can give to keep the profit margins strong enough to be able to continue employing people. Who would be chosen to fill a vacancy? A fit strong young person or a deafblind incontinent amputee? Or a "moderately violent" person with a mental illness? This isn't about empowering people and helping them into work; its about being able to pay people Jobseekers Allowance, which is considerably less than sickness benefits. It has to be as disabled people have more expenses.

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