MPs blame government for wasteful system of assessing fitness to work

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 11 February 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f913
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

MPs have accused the UK Department of Work and Pensions of causing avoidable “misery and hardship” to thousands of benefit claimants who are too sick to work, by putting them through work capability assessments.

People with mental health problems or rare or variable conditions were especially likely to be penalised by the “one size fits all” tick box process, said the report published by the Public Accounts Committee on 8 February.1 The system’s inflexibility made it “extremely difficult for individuals with particular conditions to demonstrate the impact of their conditions on their ability to work,” it said, and the stressfulness of the process could have a further detrimental effect on applicants’ health.

Work capability assessments are used to assess applications for Employment and Support Allowance, the benefit brought in to replace Incapacity Benefit in 2008. The work has been outsourced to the private sector …

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