The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is facing a backlash over its plans to change the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The uproar over its changes – which will force many chronically ill and disabled people to work from home – is such that people will be protesting outside the department’s main office on Monday 30 October. The campaign group behind the protest has branded the DWP and its plans “despicable”.
The DWP’s latest changes to the WCA
As the Canary previously reported, the DWP is planning to change the WCA. Specifically, it thinks that the following factors – currently considered in the assessment – are no longer barriers to work:
- Factoring in people’s mobility.
- Bladder or bowel incontinence.
- The inability to cope in social situations.
- People’s ability to leave their homes.
- Work being a risk to claimants or others – a clause which means that an individual is “treated as having limited capability for work and work related activity “
That is, the DWP thinks anyone who would currently be exempt due to those descriptors should instead have to work from home. Reading between the lines, the DWP is trying to reduce the benefits bill by forcing more chronically ill and disabled people into work. As the charity Disability Rights told Disability News Service (DNS):
The government’s proposed changes to the work capability assessment are less to do with helping disabled people into work than a cynical attempt to impose conditionality and to reduce benefit payments.
In reality, these changes could be terrible for people affected. They could mean that more people would lose the health-related elements of benefits like Universal Credit. In turn, this could mean the DWP could subject them to sanctions.
However, chronically ill and disabled people are not taking the DWP’s actions lying down.
DPAC: fighting back
Campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) has organised a protest outside the DWP’s Caxton House office in Westminster. On 30 October at 12pm, the group and its allies will gather. This is the last day for the DWP’s public consultation on proposed WCA changes. You can read about the consultation, and find out how to submit evidence to it, here.
DPAC will be letting the DWP know how dangerous its plans are. The group said in a statement:
These proposals threaten to remove essential income from Deaf and disabled people and to subject many more of us to distressing and punitive work search activities and benefit sanctions.
Their argument is that Deaf and disabled people can work from home now. They want to remove assessment points for social anxiety, communication difficulties, mobility issues and bladder/bowel incontinence.
We know that working from home does not overcome these barriers.
Research has shown that disabled people benefit less from home working than non-disabled people, because we are less likely to be in the kind of jobs that can be done from home.
Of course, the DWP’s plans for the WCA are part of a wider but equally toxic plan to further target chronically ill and disabled people reliant on social security.
‘Despicable’ plans from the DWP
As the Canary has been documenting, the current Conservative government appears hell-bent on further persecuting chronically ill and disabled people. It is currently:
- Planning on scrapping the WCA altogether. This will mean Personal Independence Payment (PIP) health assessments will be used for all benefits. The change could see the DWP strip over 600,000 chronically ill and disabled people of some benefits.
- Looking at not increasing benefits next April in line with inflation – even though previous increases have not kept pace with rising prices.
- Planning on getting chronically ill and disabled people’s GPs to refer them to “employment support” if they fit certain criteria.
Overall, DPAC said of the planned changes to, and potential scrapping of, the WCA:
These plans will be a disaster for anyone who faces barriers to paid work. They will unquestionably lead to a considerable increase in avoidable harm and more benefit deaths. And we cannot trust Labour not to keep any changes to tighten the WCA if elected.
Please support the protest however you can and let people know about the consultation and the government’s despicable plans.
So, anyone affected by the WCA, plus anyone who cares about how the DWP treats chronically ill and disabled people, should get themselves to Caxton House at 12pm on 30 October. DPAC will be making some noise – and the more people there to support it, the better. Those who cannot physically attend can get involved online using #NoMoreBenefitDeaths. The DWP cannot be allowed to get away with this.
Featured image via the Canary and Wikimedia
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