As most of you probably know, the big problem with Work Capability Assessments are the descriptors.
However bad Atos might be at customer service, they did not write the 17 descriptors that decide whether or not you will be found eligible for Employment and Support Allowance, the replacement for Incapacity Benefit.
The DWP did.
Atos might have designed a computer programme as a framework for these descriptors, but they didn’t write them.
The DWP did.
Atos might be asked to carry out an assessment, but they don’t decide if you are fit for work or not.
The DWP do.
What does this mean? Well, it means that the Government wrote criteria that were so tough, so detached from reality, so blatantly designed to ensure that seriously ill or disabled people failed, it didn’t matter who did the assessments – Atos or Coco the Clown – the results would be the same. (Some might argue the two examples are the same….)
The descriptors we use today,http://www.tameside.gov.
uk/esa/wca mean that those with fluctuating conditions, mental health or learning disabilities find it almost impossible to be accurately assessed. As these are the conditions increasing around the world, a cynic might argue that it was entirely intentional. Please do take a moment to look at the descriptors used currently.
A week or so ago, we were sent a new set of descriptors anonymously that seemed to be significant improvement. We didn’t know who had written them or whether there was any realistic chance that they would ever be used.
As you can see from the guest post on out blogs, It turns out that these were the descriptors suggested by the mental health charities, learning disabilites charities and charities representing those with fluctuating conditions.
We felt that it was only fair that you be given the chance to decide for yourselves what you think of the new descriptors. We are told that they may have changed over the last few weeks but that broadly, these are the descriptors that the DWP now say that they will test independently and fairly.
We also felt, once we had seen them, that Mind and other charities had made the correct decision to work with the DWP rather than walking way and leaving the testing to be done by the DWP alone, without any input from sick or disabled people.
We can only hope that these descriptors ARE closer to a model that will be used in the future as any improvement can only mean that millions of people currently undergoing an unfair and distressing process are more fairly treated.
As Mind have pointed out, these new descriptors are far from perfect, but those currently used are unfit for purpose and will never provide a fair and balanced outcome.
Link to possible new descriptors – http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/breaking-news-possible-new-wca.html?showComment=1343898268509