Adults with autism have left Act Now For Autism in no doubt as to how terrifying the idea (and reality) of having a Work Capability Assessment is. People are currently being migrated from Incapacity Benefit to Employment Support Allowance and generally are worrying themselves sick about the prospect of having a WCA.
To compound this, from April 2013 we will see PIP rolled out in place of DLA. Every adult who currently receives DLA will face an assessment and then have to wait for a decision about what level of PIP they will be awarded.
Act Now for Autism is very concerned about the importance of ‘supportive evidence’ for the WCA, and it would seem the DWP are going to require ‘supportive evidence’ as part of the PIP assessment too.
Without supportive evidence autistic adults stand to lose their benefits.
We know there are a significant number of autistic adults and those with Aspergers Syndrome who do not have the supportive evidence they are going to need for either assessment.
We believe this is one of the biggest issues that autistic adults and the autism community across the UK face and yet we appear to be alone with our concerns. No-one else is raising this nationally - we really are puzzled as to why.
There are concerns being raised about how evidence will be gathered and by whom, there are attempts to take it to judicial review. We believe the more important issue is what will happen to the significant number of autistic adults who will not have any evidence to gather?
Having no evidence to gather will be used against our adults.
In 2009 the National Audit Office published a report Supporting people With Autism Through Adulthood:
"Around 200,000 adults with autism do not have a learning disability. This group often fails to secure appropriate support, as health and social care services are traditionally configured for people with a learning disability, a physical illness or disability, or a mental health problem (which autism is not)."
"Three quarters of local authorities said adults with autism who do not meet eligibility criteria experience or report difficulties accessing the services they require. Almost two thirds felt that current services for adults with autism are limited."
Three quarters of autistic adults and those with Aspergers Syndrome did not meet the eligibility criteria to access the services they required in 2009. There has been very little progress made to extend service provision for these adults since 2009 so where they get the supportive evidence they need?
Without Health and Social Care provision, autistic adults are left with only their GP's to oversee their care needs. Evidence from GP's will not be considered as supportive evidence as part of a benefit assessment/reassessment, Chris Grayling told us that.
There is an elephant in the room and the wrong strategy is being used to try to avert the consequences of it being there. What's more, the issue of 'supportive evidence' is going to catch out not just autistic adults and their families but others with hidden disability who don't require specialist input or care as well.
The Government want to cut/save 20% off the disability benefit cost.
Potentially up to 200,000 autistic adults without supportive evidence are going to give them a good head start.