Marcus writes to Works and Pensions Minister about sickness benefit decision making process

Marcus Fysh MP today wrote to the Work and Pensions Secretary to call for changes to the way decisions are made about sickness benefits for unemployed disabled people.

The Yeovil MP is backing recommendations made in a Work and Pensions Select Committee report calling for ‘well-informed’ work coaches to be in charge of the Work Capability Assessment, particularly in re-assessing and varying conditionality over time.

The report advises the Department for Work and Pensions to ‘take a more flexible, personalised approach to providing unemployed disabled people – including those with the greatest needs – with support’.

Marcus has written to Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green to suggest they meet to discuss this issue, which affects many of his constituents.

Marcus said: “Many constituents have contacted me about this assessment saying it’s not fit for purpose. I think it’s a valuable tool but agree that the work coach making these decisions should be an expert who can make well-informed decisions, particularly in re-assessing and varying conditionality over time.

“After all, it’s essential we have a fair system that enables everyone to fulfil their potential while providing a safety net for those who need it most, with specialists and experts entrusted to making those decisions.”

 

 

Notes to editors:

The Work and Pensions Select Committee has issued a report on the Government's plan to halve the disability employment gap (following on from the Green Paper).  It gives a number of recommendations, one in particular concerning the Work Capability Assessment:

 

6. The Work Capability Assessment is fundamentally flawed. The Department should quickly begin the process of reforming it. We are pleased that the Department is looking at how it can take a more flexible, personalised approach to providing unemployed disabled people—including those with the greatest needs—with support. We are, however, concerned that the Work Capability Assessment model proposed in the Department’s green paper would place more responsibility on Work Coaches than is appropriate for their current levels of expertise, particularly in terms of re-assessing and varying conditionality over time. We reiterate the recommendation from our Future of Jobcentre Plus report concerning developing a front-line, senior disability specialist role for Work Coaches. If Work Coaches are to be handed much more discretion over setting conditionality, it is imperative that they do so from a well-informed position. (Paragraph 28).

 

For more information on the report see link.

For information on the Green Paper see link.