Welfare Reform and disability

NAWRA welcomes the recent announcement from the new Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, Stephen Crabb MP, to abandon further cuts to PIP. NAWRA hopes that his promises not to seek “alternative offsetting savings” in this Parliament will also be honoured.

Let us not forget however that according to recent research by the Centre for Welfare Reform, vulnerable and disabled citizens have been the “number one target for cuts”.  Indeed the present and former Governments have already presided over the single largest decimation of welfare support for disabled communities in modern history with further cuts expected to ESA and the worst cuts yet to come under Universal Credit.  Cognisant of the Government’s public sector duties, NAWRA calls on the Secretary of State to review these other planned cuts as a matter of priority in order to encourage a more inclusive society for all.

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Is the writing finally on the wall for the WCA?

Eri Mountbatten writes:

NAWRA members will be aware of prominent reports being published that have highlighted significant problems with the application and administration of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and by its contractors, most notably Atos. In July 2014, the Work and Pensions Select Committee published their report on the WCA and called for a “fundamental redesign of ESA”. Following that report, in August 2014, NAWRA published its own response to the final Independent Review of the WCA calling for a “radical change” in the way claimants are treated under the scheme.

Dr Paul Litchfield has now published the fifth and final ‘Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment’ (available at http://tinyurl.com/litchfield5). Dr Litchfield says that despite the WCA being operational since 2008, it has not yet had a chance to “bed down” due to various changes. Although Dr Litchfield has shied away from recommending a fundamental redesign of the system, he says that if such change were to take place then he would recommend a number of key issues to be taken into account.

NAWRA welcomes the fact that the vast majority of his recommendations reflect the findings and recommendations highlighted in our own response to the consultation (available at http://tinyurl.com/pjq67c7).

We trust that the Government will act promptly to make meaningful and radical changes to the culture of the DWP, and of its contractors, to help ensure that claimants are not treated with suspicion ‘by default’ and instead are treated as a “whole person” with sensitivity, value, dignity and respect.

Eri Mountbatten is the NAWRA committee representative for North Wales

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