Friday, 3 August 2012

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

This week two documentaries were aired giving a disturbing and informative insight into the Work Capability Assessment. After watching both programmes Act Now For Autism believes that it is now time for the national charities who have been in talks with the Department of Work and Pensions to walk away - especially given the planned timetable and targets.

Viewers were left reeling after watching Dispatches and Panorama, made worse as the
Atos assessor filmed training potential assessors described the WCA as "toxic".
We have long believed and repeatedly said the WCA is not fit for purpose as a tool for assessing autistic adults. We have testimony from people across the UK giving a clear indication of the damage this flawed process is inflicting.

Professor Harrington (the man in charge of reviewing the Work Capability Assessment for the DWP) is standing down from this role in November. He has previously called for an overhaul of the process to make it more "fair and humane". We know the DWP and Ministers have refused to budge as it would be too costly to implement the overhaul to descriptors.

The fact that Professor Harrington is standing down throws up new concerns - is the Coalition Government starting over with a process that has been under review for three years? Is this in fact just another stalling mechanism to enable this Government to substantially reduce the number of adults with disabilities who are claiming Employment Support Allowance?

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the charity Mind, quit the monitoring panel citing the process as "deeply flawed". He was clearly frustrated that the government was not paying attention to the growing chorus of alarm over the reliability of the assessment. At the time it was reported that his departure from the panel reflected the intensifying anger amongst some of the national charities at the Government's commitment to reassessing approximately 1.6 million recipients of incapacity benefit as it was phased out and the changeover to ESA was implemented. 
We held our breath like many other campaigners, we thought others would follow, we hoped other charities would take a stand - none did. Most remained silent and continued as before.
Maybe the time has now come for the other charities to leave the building and close the door behind them on the way out. Surely the testimony of thousands of people across the UK is enough evidence that it's time to stand up for the very people they represent?

If "we're all in this together" surely our representative charities should stand alongside us?

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