Saturday 9 March 2013

Today's #ESAendgame request - IMPORTANT

#ESAendgame means exactly what it says.

It;s time the people spoke. With one voice and said "Enough is Enough"

We have the evidence - we've had it for years.

People are desperate and our politicians - of all parties - have been too slow to make improvements that would have saved lives and untold human suffering.

We will not wait for another review - we've had 4 official reviews - they've all said the same thing. ESA needs comprehensive change and we are not prepared to wait any longer. If the political system and mainstream media insist on failing us, if they will stand by while this misery is carried out behind a veil of lies, then we MUST act. And we must act NOW. Together.

The dazzling success of The Starting Gun led 450 people to say what they believe is wrong with ESA. What needs fixing. These will form the basis of our demands. (More to come Monday)

Today, I want people to say what ESA SHOULD do. How it should work. What would you like to see change? How could ESA and WCAs be better for you? How can we make them more efficient? Where can we save money? 

Where The Starting Gun was negative, let's be positive. We know what works and what doesn't - we know what needs to change. 

So everyone, sick or healthy, disabled or more able, mentally ill, carers, people with learning difficulties, people with fluctuating conditions and terminal disease, charities, unions.

PLEASE tell us in the comment thread what you need ESA to be and how it should work. What you believe is right and just in a compassionate, progressive society.

If you need a little inspiration, go to the #ESAedngame hashtag on twitter, you'll see some people started to give their thoughts last night.

Again, please can I ask you to stick to one sentence where possible and leave your 
-Name (or psudonym/social media name) 
-And the one thing you most want to change about ESA This is vital for the success our campaign.

This project will ONLY work if you join in. thousands of us are unhappy with ESA, the injustice, the harrassment, the scapegoating, the fear. The ONLY way ordinary people like us can change things is to show that we have a voic. 30, 50, 100 responses won't do. Thousands of us need to tell the country what we want, what we need. 

Please, join us, leave comments about what change we need from ESA, share, tweet and support. 

YOU will make this work. 

Alone we Whisper, Together we Shout. 


If you;re "in" please sign Thank you 

PLEASE, RT, Share and encourage 


  1. ESA should be permanent support for those who can't support themselves financially and enable those who could improve/develop the time to do so. #esaendgame

  2. Ian the inventor.
    Blackburn, Lancashire.
    The removal of all financial support for sick & disabled happens but not many seem aware, it shouldn't be allowed to happen.

    1. Removal of financial support without warning.

      Rossendale Darwen.

    2. The overriding decision on a person's ability to work should be returned to GPs who are eminently more qualified to judge their patients' capabilities than any target-driven box-ticker.

    3. @swangirl14

      Gorton M/c

      Yes remove WCA and listen to GP who knows how our illness/disability affects our daily living

  3. Helen Thomas

    WCA's should be abolished. Instead, DWP should work with our specialists and medical staff, the ones who know us and know what they're talking about

    1. I totally agree, a stranger can not judge if your able to manage without DLA.

  4. I'll start :)

    Sue Marsh @suey2y
    Worthing West
    I want all medical evidence and GP/specialist opinion considered.

    1. that is the only and just way sue
      my tory mp likes my way of a home visit with a senior doctor and DWP official to make sure that the benefits you are being paid are the correct ones for your needs and that your entitlement is correct for your medical/disablement condition and that you are the rightful recipient for security purposes

      i put this forward years ago you may remember it sue and to this day i have not changed my mind as the best course of action in which all genuine sick and disabled people would unite behind of that I'm sure

  5. ESA should be judged by the word of our specialists Psychiatrists, Consultants or GP's not the likes of ATOS

    1. Atos are being paid to MAKE people with disabilities go to work.

  6. Sue Izzard

    I can't improve on what Virginia Moffatt and Helen Thomas have said.

  7. Natalie Dunn, Dudley
    They should accept your own doctors/consultants/specialists medical opinion and if they do want to carry out their own medical, it must be done by a qualified doctor who has experience of your condition.

  8. Sarah Campbell @Spoonydoc
    WRAG to be recognised as disability benefit with same status as support group and DLA.
    WRAG to be given non time limited unconditional support.
    WRAG to be given genuine support to help. For example link up with Access to Work.
    Help with Education to be provided, inc. further education.
    Access to Work to be extended to Voluntary so people from WRAG can try volunteering before moving on to paid work (IF appropriate).

  9. Darren Jones
    Glasgow Kelvingrove
    WCA should be removed and GP/specialists evidence given priority.

  10. allbigideas, sheffield. I would like the emphasis on employment taken away. For some, its a full time job being ill, and for others the 3 hours volunteering they do every week still benefits society greatly. For me, in education, i still have a valuable contribution, and in future when i graduate i will go on to contribute further. None of this is recognised in the current system. More flexibility is needed.

    1. Even if you go by the government's work work work mindset education should be allowed even if it takes a long time.
      Many people may be unable to return to the jobs they had. Retraining may be necessary. Education should be allowed and even encouraged. This should include further education at A-level and university standard.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Jan O'Malley @Tanith777

    Ross, Skye & Lochaber

    ESA should realistically assess a person's condition, using all relevant medical information from GPs, Consultants, & any profession supports. If there is any chance of future employment (within 12 months), there should be intensive, relevant support, inc. re-education/training, assessment for aids & funding for them

  12. @ChrisBracken, West Midlands

    Dismantle the culture of fear. Presume honesty, since most people ARE honest. De-politicise it.

  13. Victoria ‏@StigmaResearch
    @suey2y recipients of ESA should receive an income which does not mean they live in poverty #ESAendgame

  14. Chris Pampling @MardyOldGit


    I think the only WCA should be when there is an offer of employment in place: then we should be assessed to see what we need in order to do that particular job, not forgetting how to get there and back.

  15. ESA should be the support system it is claimed to be, not the lie it actually is, one intended to cover up the takeover of the UK by insurance firms, and the Government's connection with them.

  16. Those with chronic deteriorating conditions should not have to be constantly re assessed by atos. Alison bates northants

    1. @swangirl14

      Gorton ward M/c

      Yes Alison, our chronic illness is not magically disappear!

  17. @ChrisBracken West Midlands

    No private contractors. Civil service, no profit motive. Accountability with no commercial confidence excuses.

  18. North West Norfolk

    WCA should look at capabilities in relation to the realities of work and should properly take medical evidence into account.

  19. @a_man_named_Ed

    Abolish the current system of assessments carried out by Atos and make decisions based on evidence from our doctors. For those unfit for work provide UNCONDITIONAL, non time-limited payment of benefits.

  20. @billkruse
    The assessors must be fully accountable in law, answerable to a judge and jury.
    The assessors must be granted access to your entire medical history and forced to acquaint themselves with it before they even see you.
    Any time limit on the individual assessments must be removed.
    The assessors must be paid a fixed salary regardless of how many assessments they make.
    The assessors must be allowed to make their decisions free of any norms or targets.
    The DWP decision makers similarly must be answerable to a judge and jury.
    ALL assessments for ESA, PIP, whatever, must be recorded.

  21. Ambleskramble - Devon

    ESA should:
    Be unconditional support you when you are not well enough to work
    Be based on your GP/Specialist's decision
    Provide options to a) not work at all, b) retrain, c) volunteer, d) start your own business over a staggered amount of time.
    Not be related to 'targets'
    Not assessed by private companies with a profit incentive
    Have fair and quick appeal proceedure

  22. Dean Wales, Facebook Accurate, fair assessments free from bias, vested interest, political expediency and targets.

  23. @tottwriter (Maidstone and the Weald)

    Assessment for ESA should be based on medical history, and a person's GP or specialist's opinion of their ability to work should be taken as a primary evidence for their claim. If a specialist says a person is unfit for work, they should not be denied ESA.

  24. Janmichael on FB.

    Saffron Walden

    Cancel all involvement with Atos and their like. Use all relevant medical history from the GP and consultant, from the outset. Maybe use another GP surgery in local area for any assessment, if necessary, to deflect any suggestion of bias from own GP.

  25. We need more than 30 days to fill in an ESA50

    1. It's actually 30 days from the date on the letter. My letter took a week to arrive, that equals 23 days. And then I've been told that it can take "up to 8 working days to be logged onto the system". By my reckoning that leaves 15 days to appeal. My benefit will be stopped before I can get my appeal in - I need to get the necessary evidence from my cpn/consultant and there just isn't the time. "Oh the reduced rate benefit will be backdated if you send in a valid appeal". Lovely. And just what am I meant to live on in the mean time? Oh and btw - did you not read the medical reports I already sent in: I'M ILL - TOO ILL TO COMPLETE THESE STUPID FORMS. Too ill to fight.

    2. @swangirl14

      Gorton Ward. M/c

      Yes too short time limit and ESA50 far too long and too repetitive at times

  26. ESA should be gentle and sympathetic. If your condition can improve, then you should get tailored LONG TERM support by people who know you, understand you and do what you need, not what looks good on their stats. If your condition can't improve, then they should leave you alone.

    Most of all I would like to be treated as a human being and given some RESPECT and not treated like the source of all the country woes by the Tories and the Tory briefed media. If my curtains are drawn in the day, it is because I cannot afford to let the heat escape though the windows. Not because I am lazy or work shy.

    Hastings & St Leonards

  27. JayneL -Leicester West

    ESA needs to work on the basis of trust. claimants and their medical evidence from GPs, Consultants etc must be accepted as genuine; assessments must be unbiased and all targets must be removed.

  28. Tracy Newman Tracy Newman @tracyjayne1 Worcester

    WCA should not be a generic tick box questionnaire it should be a proper assessment carried out by a qualified doctor who understands your condition, taking into account information provided by your GP, consultant or any other person who provides medical care for you ie specialist nurse, physiotherapist. People with proven chronic degenerative conditions should not have to return to answer the same generic questions year after year, and should not be made to feel guilty for not being able to work.

  29. North Devon
    Make evidence based from GPs and consultants, the highest paid of the medical profession. Consultants see people every day with varying degrees of a condition and you can't fool them! They have the experience of their specialities. MRIs, xrays, scans and test results don't lie. They know how a condition affects someone's ability to carry out physical activity. Why spend so much money on face to face assessments to send the profits abroad when a dr or consultant can declare you fit, or unfit for work. The WCA process undermines the opinion of the most senior specialist doctors.

  30. ESA entitlement should be based primarily on GP, specialist reports and recommendation not on a ten minute interview with an assessor who is not necessarily qualified to assess your condition! Better understanding of the debilitating & often long term affects of mental illness! Constant reassessments scrapped! @stuckinscared Southend central

  31. suzanna

    manchester central

    it should take GP and consultant evidence into account

  32. onerubberband
    ESA should be assessed by independent doctors, psychiatrists, etc who have no targets or pressures from budget and the claimant's GP should be their first port of call.

  33. Margo Milne @margojmilne Hertsmere

    - GP/consultant evidence to be taken seriously.
    - Proper recognition of variable conditions and invisible symptoms such as pain and fatigue.

  34. ESA should be for short-to-medium term sickness and injury which prevents people working.

    i..e for those with a condition that is likely to improve enough for them to return to work, at some point.

    The assessment of medical professionals should be the single most important factor in determining qualification for ESA; the most sensible (and cheapest!) way to do this would be use the testimony / reports from the existing medical professionals all sick & injured people access (GPs, therapists, specialists etc.).

    Such people are constantly reassessed by their medical professionals, and as such a rolling system of WCAs is redundant and needlessly expensive (not to mention stressful for the individual).

    We should be able to trust the professionalism and judgement of doctors, consultants, psychiatrists and therapists.

    A basic requirement for remaining on ESA should be "Will it harm or hinder this individual's recovery if he or she returns to work now?"

    1. Sorry, I'm rubbish at one sentence (you might be able to pick one out!), and I keep forgetting my constituency

      Manchester Gorton,
      @Soylentish on Twitter

  35. Stitched-Together
    South Leicestershire
    ESA should assess the individual, and their life as a whole, rather than looking at separate little items on a checklist.

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. ESA should be assessed on your doctors and consultants reports and any WCA should be carried out by the NHS and the money that is at present paid to ATOS should be given to the NHS for this purpose.

    Hastings and St Leonards.

    1. I think all ATOS assessments should be carried out by a doctor not a nurse. At my assessment I had certificates from police doctor and she just ignored them I'm now back on tablets and waiting for the appeal.

  38. DWP's figures 73 people each week die after being found fit for work by Atos! This figure has risen and will continue to do so unless this government stops playing with disabled peoples lives!!

  39. @chocolatewig
    Taunton Deane, Jeremy Browne MP
    MS, Parkinson's and other neurological conditions (or all listed on critical illness criteria) should be exempt from sanctions and face to face WCAs. Evidence from GP and Consultant should be enough, it would also save costs of ATOS.
    You cannot have a critical illness and be a cheat can you?

  40. @wildcandytuft St Helens North

    End the outsourcing of work capability assessments to unaccountable, secretive, multi-national profit making companies and locally employ the services of GPs, psychologists, pyschiatrists directly via the state/DWP.

    Allow doctors carrying out assessments to make decisions based on their professional opinion and medical expertise.

    Abolish the points scoring/tick box system and allow logic, reason and medical experience into the decision making prociess.

    Get rid of the two tier support group/work related activity group. Anyone who is sick should have equal support from the state.

    Pay social security as long as the illness/condition requires support, because sickness doesn't conform to a 365 day time limit.

    Free access to education (OU at home if needed) to improve skills, career and life chances. Huge benefits to self esteem and is a productive use of time and can be done to fit around an illness.

    Therapeutic leisure, or mini night class courses so that people who have been isolated and excluded can rediscover social skills and improve self worth and confidence.

    People with mental health conditions should be offered the services of local MH teams, charities and organisations specialising in supporting them in the community. Befriending services to break the isolation, create local groups, social groups, leisure activities and exercise classes. Vital support and care instead of just dumping them on the dole queue because their complex mental health problem doesn't fit within a exclusive and narrow set of critera!!

  41. my son suffers from arthritis, chronic pain syndrome, muscle spasms and crohns, severe stomache pain, his on the strongest meds going, his doctor and hospital specialists should be taken notice of. NOT atos the french people.

  42. If only our MPs could each meet 6 disabled people from their constituencies whose lives will be wrecked by ESA. #ESAendgame

  43. LiKW (Selly Oak)

    Where to start?

    Some of the issues are cultural constructions. We should first start with the abandonment of the current medical model as provided by UNUM as being as flawed in their definition of humanity as the medical model used to justify eugenics during the 20th century. I'm not giving them equal value in terms of their consequences, just commenting on the fact that both are flawed models of defining what is valuable/useful about people. That the medical professions themselves recognise this and are calling on the WCA to be scrapped shows that this is disputed territory.

    From that point comes the need to abandon the current descriptors for ESA as these are linked into the flawed medical model being used.

    This leads to the first important change required - a commitment to a social model of participation and support for the disabled and ill to be adopted within ESA or any replacement.

    What does a social model look like? Firstly, it will require a recognition of the wide variety of humanity that makes up the population. People are disabled and seriously sick with all sorts of varying conditions.

    Second, that there should be a commitment to ensuring that this group gets to engage as fully as possible into society if possible (full or part-time, paid or voluntary) without negative consequences. This would recognise fluctuating conditions and would remove sanctions from ESA as participation would be voluntary.

    Third (as a result of the second) - no separate WRAG and Support groups. Rather, you have a single status with a sliding scale of financial support needs with the opportunity to opt into an accessing work-support group (complete with financial support to aid process ala Access to Work but wider in scope because ESA should be for living costs). So people opt-in an engagement group (lets not call it work-related activity please) and receive an additional financial support in return for committing to engaging in society. This could be as small as volunteering a few hours a month to a community project.

    Fourth, lets recognise that the 'workplace' is often inflexible towards those with additional needs and that any ESA programme needs to work on the basis of rewarding small incremental steps with those that claim it and that people do take steps backwards as well as forwards. The current system has a culture of all or nothing despite the rhetoric.

    Fifth, that all or nothing culture is reflected in the decision-making on applicants themselves. We need a different application and assessment process based on the principles of recognising conditions and being inquisitorial about people's needs. Lets design a system which starts with the basis of medical evidence then build a screening process around the problematic areas. This would mean that people with diagnosed conditions would be subject to a simple "do they have X condition? Yes. They qualify for ESA". It would be conditions such as "bad backs" that would need investigating further (for the Daily Mail brigade) but if you're suffering from a serious medical condition or are on the autistic spectrum or have a physical disability then you qualify for ESA standard rate. After that qualification does the inquisitorial process come in to decide what additional support required and what expectations you and they can work from. This would be done by an ESA case worker who be known to you and/or your representatives (rather than the secret decision-makers who operate in the dark and beyond the reach of communication...). I would like to see a case worker assigned for the long-term so that a real understanding is created over years ideally. The case worker would make an assessment of additional support requirements, decide financial support levels (on a sliding scale as discussed above) and explain what opting into the engagement group would mean.

    In other words - a human process based on the concept that people are social creatures that like engaging with other people in leisure and work situations.

    1. Apologies for it not being one sentence.

      The thing I would most like to see is automatic ESA qualification for disabilities and serious illnesses that can be evidenced by medical professionals.

  44. If a qualified doctor (go or consultant) says you're too I'll to work then they should listen. Any tests should be carried out by nhs doctors. I'm moonstoneclare on twitter and Clare Barton on Facebook and real life. Constituency is .... not sure of full title. My area's Lochaber and MP Charles Kennedy. Hope I can help.

  45. @severedelays


    Employment Support Allowance as a long term benefit to assist people with disabilities to work - with other benefits for those who cannot work at present/ever - but without continuous reassessment and bullying to force people into the working group.

  46. Emma Round, Birmingham, Ladywood.

    I would like a reform of the application/ESA50 process. I would like to see;

    * the ESA50 to explain how points are awarded so people can make sure they use the right words to minimise misunderstandings.
    * the DWP should make an effort to contact the people listed in the ESA50 as medical contacts rather than putting extra stress and strain on patients who may not be able to chase for evidence/afford doctors letters. They should also take it all into account unless there is very good reason not too.
    * the DWP should make sure that doctors, nurses, OT's and other health care providers have easy access to the ESA points crietria so they can ensure they use appropriate language when producing supporting evidence.

    Naturally I'd also like to see all assessment centres be wheelchair accessible & for the re-assessment process to not always be every 12 months - but for it to be every 1,2,3,5 or 10 years depending on individual circumstances. It'd also be nice if it was based strongly in the social model & took account of the appalling access in this country instead of veering towards the medical model as it is now.

  47. @triplecherry Surbiton/kingston

    WCA's should be abolished. Instead, DWP should listen to our specialists and GPs, the ones who know us and know what they're talking about

  48. They could save money by not having reassessments for people with deteriorating and/or permanent conditions.

    Assessments should be fair and honest and not be worded in such a way as to negate the true nature of the sickness/disability

    Assessments should be based on real world jobs including getting to and from them

    They should also be based on real world aids and adaptations and take into account that use of aids and adaptations doesnt totally solve the symptoms of the sickness/disability

    Consituency Withington Manchester @barbsisi

  49. Fiona Ambrose, Hastings, East Sussex, facebook - fiona ambrose, twitter - discontentia. DWP should accept evidence from GP's & other specialists to accept some claimants with lifelong conditions will not improve. By subjecting these claimants to repeated tests DWP are in some cases making clients conditions worse, due to the stress of WCA process & subsequent appeals.It could also be argued that the WCA is placing additional strain on our NHS, as many claimants have to seek further support from NHS, due to the impact of WCA assessments on general health & well being.

  50. Chris Gregson, Mid Derbyshire, @cm_gregson

    All fit for work and WRAG decisions to be accompanied by an agreed list of restrictions, and of funded essential support and adaptations required. People to remain in support group until the agreement and funding are in place.

    1. Also everyone with needs assessed as 'critical ' MUST be exempt from the WCA as removal of support is known to put their life at risk.

  51. Karen Fish, Cardiff South and Penarth. The assessment should be a proper medical with all evidence taken into account. Stop the constant reassessment of conditions that will not improve.

  52. Dalekette, Sheffield. Use medical evidence from medical staff who know the person. Get rid of time limits and too frequent reassessment

  53. Bridget Bradshaw, Cambridge, @bugshaw

    First, no do harm.

    Second, handle the cases where an ESA claim is rejected as fit for work but a subsequent JSA claim is rejected as not fit enough for work.

    1. Francesca Cullen, Pendle Const., Lancs
      Andrew Stephenson MP (Tory)

      Try believing the person claiming; don't assume
      they are guilty/faking it. Less of the mechanistic assessment. Suffering/pain should be
      a category to qualify for the Support Group without subsequent reassessments. Ian Duncan Smith, please practise your Christianity - love thy neighbour; there but for the grace of God etc.

  54. Give power back to consultant, Gp's and restore confidence.

  55. Remove target driven assessments. If you have twenty people to assess and all are too ill to work, then those twenty should be awarded ESA. To have targets is to have injustice. Rhondda Cynon Taf, MP Chris Bryant

  56. The assessment should absolutely NOT be a tick-box procedure but based on medical reports and, if necessary, a thorough face-to-face consultation with a doctor (NOT a nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, dental nurse etc.)


  57. John Allsopp
    Scarborough and Whitby
    Assuming we can't say "end the demonisation of the disabled" because that's politics, not ESA, I'd say put in place a legal requirement to make the system as accessible as possible. Otherwise it's a tax on our precious discretionary time. I'd go so far as to require the adequate funding of advocates.

  58. Rely on the opinions of an individuals doctor and specialists after all they are a government paid body

  59. @JamJar21
    Bolton South East
    I know you said one thing but:
    - Listen to the experts. GPs, Consultants, Registrars, etc who treat us, know what they are talking about!
    - Make the forms realistic. I can walk up 2 stairs no problem but when are there just 2 stairs? Or who has to carry just a pint of milk?
    - Offer advice on how to fill out the form. I just got it with a letter basically saying "return by this date or else".
    - People don't fit into a tick box system as everyone is different. Listen more to their symptoms and conditions.

  60. I like this idea. I agree there does need to be some sort of assessment, however, the current system is too brutal and too wrong.

    This post has examples of very specific clinically proved assessments, and when understood in the context of other mental health reports especially with overlapping conditions, of a complex nature would be a better basis for judgment:

    People properly trained in mental health would be able to tell the severity of various conditions by results of various tests like these. Of course, I can only speak here about mental illness. I have been going through assessments now for many years, and my conditions are fluctuating continually, as can my diagnosis over time. With complex mental health conditions they should also take into account how one condition can impact upon another, how there can be conflicts, which can cause overall deterioration etc..

  61. Sorry for the additional comment, remembered about posting this, from last August which includes details about the British Psychological Society's response to a review

    "The BPS response also makes clear that there are already several clinical methods of understanding the severity of several mental health conditions"

  62. Colin-Roy Hunter on f/b
    @criquaer on twitter
    Altrincham & Sale West
    Folk on ESA + DLA/PIP should not have to answer the same Q's and the information should be shared with SS so no need to repeat again. Forms should take proper account of fluctuating conditions. Supportive guidance should be sent out with forms giving e.g.s and explanations of terminology. Q's should not be worded to catch one out but to accurately assess one's needs. %)

  63. Elaine Stammers - Facebook. St Ives, Cornwall
    I believe that to improve ESA/WCA the DWP/ATOS should have to obtain and pay for a medical report from each person's GP - it should not be for the applicant to have to try and obtain medical evidence from an often reluctant GP.
    I also believe that the WCA should be relevant to the real workplace, which it isn't at present.

  64. This comment has been removed by the author.

  65. Chris McCabe, S Cambs - WCAs should work on evidence from impartial medical staff, ie, people's GPs, & supporting evidence like X-ray results & prescriptions.

  66. @Amy_Blue82, Basingstoke and Deane, ESA assessment should only consider aids the person owns and uses or can very easily be obtained; no more imaginary wheelchairs.

  67. Stacey Riley - NE Cambs.

    Make the ESA50 questions more relevant to the actual workplace. Have an understanding that people maybe theoretically able to work but find themselves unable to because of lack of support and unwillingness of employers to hire sick and disabled people. No repeat WCAs for permanent or critical conditions.

  68. A fundamental failing of ESA is that purports to support claimants back into work; yet the adjudication process omits to include the views of prospective employers or their representative bodies with regards to the claimant's work related capability.

    Nickd Mylegalforum

  69. ESA assessments should always be carried out by medical staff with in depth knowledge of what they are assessing.
    Consultant and GP reports should form the basis of any assessment.
    Home visits should be an automatic right , along with recording of assessments. You should not have to fight for them.

  70. ESA should be reviewed so mental health problems are not penalized if there is no apparent physical disability. Evidence from GP and consultants should take priority when assessing *fitness*
    I am a full time carer, due to retire in a year, yet am due for WCA in a month. Any retraining will be a waste of money.
    @kacidama on Twitter
    Stoke on Trent North (Joan Whalley)

  71. Okay so I swept stairs. Mopping beyond my "wish to do list" , I have a pile of crap in corner on half landing to pick up. Dizzy. Need coffee
    Tablets clearly say No Machinery or tool if dizzy. A broom is a tool right. Yup and now i feel SHITE.

    So why am i in WRAG?

    There needs to be ONE group not two. Run by Our Doctors, not a third party IT company.

    1. Also when this happens to someone with degenerative bone disease issues then the ESA WRAG is broken. to improve it, remove work programme. It isnt helping anyone but the cos running it.

  72. queenofthekats (Twitter)
    South Antrim (MP William McCrea)
    Claimants own Dr and Consultant/s should be paid by DWP to carry out full medical and provide report stating whether person is unfit for work or could be given support (which should be genuine) to look for work. The total impact should be looked at if claimaint has more than one condition. Questions asked on ESA claim form should relate to real life.

  73. Alison Campbell, Merton and Wandsworth constituency,

    Our ESA assessments should be undertaken by our own GP's who know our health needs and capabilities.

  74. Reinstate £85 a week pension income rule as it was in IB. So people on highest rate care do not get ESA deducted. I'm in supported group ESA and get £61 a week.

  75. The ESA 50 may look simple to those who fail to understand it; but the fact it was put together by a professor should say something about its underlying hidden complexity.

    Nickd Mylegalforum

  76. Always use claimants Dr's and Health care professionals for the decision making, not the software of lima.

  77. Marianne deSantis

    NO WRAG, Jobcentre harrassment or Workfare for *any* ESA recipients (ALL have been confirmed as unfit for ALL WORK by ATOS).

    STOP THE TORTURE. Leave it to the individual to decide what they are capable of.

    The two-tier ESA system is abusive. People with permanent/degenerative conditions are being routinely dumped in WRAG although they will never recover or be fit to work. And even those in the Support Group are vexatiously subjected to continual reassessments. Claimants already sign a declaration to notify the DWP should they miraculously recover, so there is no point to the endless harrassment.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Scrap the WCA and return medical assessment to one based on limitations/needs, as for DLA.

      The WCA is based on the corrupt BPS model of UNUM. Until this is exposed and thrown out, there will never be a return to humane policy.

    3. And SCRAP ESA ... with its "Employment Suppoprt" tag.

      Just roll things back to INCAPACITY BENEFIT or a frank DISABILITY (Retirement!) PENSION.

      Although many disabled people DO work, and the rest of us would if our conditions allowed, the basis of disability support is DISABILITY, not unemployment.

  78. The 2008 impact assessment into ESA projected that it would lead to an additional 14,500 appeals per year.

    Which only goes to show how wildly inaccurate they are! Over 60,000 with HMCTS (not including those with DWP)in the first quarter 2012/2013

    NickD Mylegalforum

  79. Let decisions be made by Drs and specialists. Then allow same Drs to undertake periodic reviews if necessary as part of consultations. If anyone is well placed to understand capacities of individuals then it has to be their own Drs. Support to return to work should be exactly that. Not the threat of destitution and unending slavery.

    Matthew Head. Wolverhampton Southwest

  80. @Kazcita, Belfast North.

    The fact that medical evidence from GPs, consultants etc that *know* the nature of the claimant's condition well is all but ignored by ATOS/the SSA - who don't employ any specialists or significantly train their staff in distinct medical fields - is a travesty. GPs/colunsultants' evidence should be considered more than adequate for the government to decide on the legitimacy of a claim, unless they do not trust such people - and if not, why not?

  81. Beth Hartley, South East Cambridgeshire

    Evidence - from wherever it needs to come from, should be looked at. Actually LOOKED at. Each case should be looked at fully because situations with the same condition can vary so very greatly. And evidence be taken from people who actually work/live/treat that person, and so know how the condition works for them in real life.

    Any assessment should be in realistic, real time situations. And I'm not sure there should be that much of that!

    Anything else I say will continue to repeat the stuff above, which is written by people far more qualified than I.

  82. @barbski70 Constituency: Ilford South

    My vision for ESA is of a benefit that properly supports sick and disabled people. The assessment would be based on how illnesses and disabilities affect people’s ability to work, and take full account of reports from the claimant’s doctors, other medical professionals and support workers, eg social workers. And people with long-term stable illnesses and disabilities would not be subject to frequent repeated assessments –for degenerative and terminal illnesses, reassessments should not be made at all. I would want the reduction in the amount paid from the old Incapacity Benefit removed – it’s appalling that in a time when the prices of essential items are rising sharply, that people who are unable to work through no fault of their own should see their incomes fall. And the link to inflation based increases would be restored.

    And finally, my vision of ESA would accept that some people, though very debilitated, may be able to do a little work, be it regularly or occasionally, and would be flexible enough to allow them to do easily - ie more flexible and simple than the current supported work scheme.

  83. ESA should be financial support for all those who need it due to disability or illness. Not just for the tiny subset of the above that LiMA is able to identify.

  84. @LizCarter4 Telford

    ESA should be based on professional opinions of doctors and other HCPs who know the patient. There needs to be a great deal of care taken over assessing those with fluctuating conditions who may appear 'well' some days but not others. Finally, there are those who fall in a gap when ESA proclaim them fit for work and JSA say they are not. Both refuse benefit. Something needs to be done about this terrifying gap.

  85. Maddy Oxford East

    assessments by gps or at least by someone educated in our conditions with full access to all medical notes so don't have to rely on fogged brains. Awareness of which conditions are longterm and degenerative to avoid repeat assessments. Transparency in the process to remove as much stress as possible.

  86. Where someone's mental health condition is lifelong & will not change, they should not be called back for reassessment for ESA. It's frightening for person & a waste of money, especially if yet another tribunal has to occur.
    (South Downs & Arundel)

  87. Take out the financial incentives ATOS have to find a certain number for for work and give it back to our GPs/consultants. The people who know us and our condition.
    Stop re assessing people with long term/progressive conditions, it's costly, stressful and pointless.

  88. Abolish the WCA based on the biopsychosocial (BPS) model and replace with a system that is based on the realities of living with long term illness' disability
    Jennie Holland
    North Yorks W Hague

  89. M Thomson, @FibromitesUnite
    Glenrothes and Central Fife (Lindsay Roy MP - Lab)

    Only specialist doctors (Rheumy/Neuro/ortho/Oncology et al) should assess long term chronic or acute conditions and only Mental Health Professionals should assess those with MH problems.

    HCP + Lima Software only deals with the here and now at the time of the assessment, it doesn't cover how day to day life is affected by the claimant's condition. They to stop making assumptions & stop using virtual equipment, treatments etc as part of assessment.

  90. Jayne McCubbin
    Poole Dorset

    Medical Evidence Should be taken into account and assessment done by a Medical Professional GP. Long term Conditions, Day by Day Changes of Physical and Mental Problems we face need to be Understood and the stress is unbearable. Received letter today and feel bullied. ESA NEEDS CHANGE ASAP,

  91. @nannachicken,Karen,Huntingdonshire. WCA should end,there really needs to be a real test of ability,just filling in that damned form takes me days and costs me lots in fatigue and distress and tells nothing of my disability.

  92. Since when have complex conditions (especially those connected with the claimant's mental health) ever fitted a tick box questionnaire based assessment?

    NickD Mylegalforum

    1. It should be fair, assess truthfully the capabilities of a person to work reliably and safely on a daily basis. More importance placed on our own doctors and specialists opinions. Not time limiting, illness is not I wish it was.
      Scunthorpe Labour Nik Dakin

  93. No DWP/Atos Work Assessment given by unqualified 'health workers' should be able to overrule doctors and consultants.

    RedMiner - Don Valley

  94. Roisin O'Hagan
    It's the time element that gets me, the speedy tick box assessment, the assessors that are paid by number of 'clients' assessed per day, the feeling that you're wasting someone's time if you want to slow things down or have time to recover from a painful physical 'assessment', the instant back-to-the-beginning even if you've won your appeal. All too hurried - possibly linked to the length of a term of office?
    (Belfast North, Rt.Hon Nigel Dodds)

  95. Elaine Edwards
    South Pembrokeshire

    Changes we need to the ESA WCA are we need compassion, support, a stop to using targets (stop using Atos) and assess fairly taking into account medical records provided by the people actually caring for the person, taking into account what the person can't do no matter how much they want to.

  96. I think ESA should support volunteering in a way that promotes social inclusion, even if only for a couple of hours a week.

    The_Morningstar, Barrow and Furness

  97. LT Glasgow South West

    ESA needs to look at what you are able to do *after* a reasonable amount of self-care and housework has been undertaken, so that realistic decisions can be made about a claimant's ability to work. These decisions need to be taken by properly independent medical professionals, working under no targets, and have a claimant's own medical evidence taken into heavy consideration.

  98. #ESAendgame.
    Bring the award lengths in line with DLA rules where it's based on the likelihood of the illness to change significantly over time. They could save plenty of money on pointless retesting and use that the fund better awards.

  99. Jay Astarte, f/b, @jayarte, twitter

    1. The diagnosis and prognosis given by GP's and specialist should be sufficient.
    2. If a person suffers from chronic illness(es) from which they are not going to recover they should not have to undergo repeated WCA's, nor applications for DLA/PIP, especially given the effect of the stress on their health.

    Lunesdale and Morecambe constituency

  100. WCA interviews should be abolished in favour of recommendations from the patient's own GP/Consultant/medical team, taking into account the patient's own wishes.

    My own experience is from a mental health perspective and I found it incredibly difficult to talk to a complete stranger who knew nothing about me or my condition and who expected straightforward answers to questions I found threatening and derogatory. Mental health issues are not accounted for on the paper questionnaires and the subsequent interview doesn't take into account any impact on behaviour during the interview itself, or consequences of the interview on a patient's condition.

    Stephanie Boon. @narrativeself Truro and Falmouth constituency.

  101. Everyone is entitled to a share of natures bounty. Disability benefits should be a bonus on top of that.

  102. What is this obsession with work? Shouldn't it be about using our time valuably eg voluntary work, education, creative expression? These are all of benefit to disabled people and the community. The concept of force and compulsion begs the question: if something is good eg work, then why the need to force and bully people? Only the right sort of work at the right sort of hours at the right sort of pay is right for some of the people some of the time. This system is based on fear, bullying and compulsion and such a system is doomed to failure. If it is based on a premise that people want to work/use their time constructively, then all else falls into place. The initial premise is wrong at the moment and has nothing to do with helping, and everything to do with shrinking the welfare state, demonising the poor and handing big profits over to the private sector.

  103. We must do all we can to help other disabled people did you know that the suicide rate has gone up to 37% among disabled people and that is a fact from DWP. I think they should be held accountable

    1. they will do Paul when the death rate is investigated at a later date and they will be put on trial for crimes against humanity that's if they haven't committed suicide first like Hitler did

  104. And please, please, please THINK before paying lipservice to any so-called need for disabiity benefits reform. Every time anyone blurts out how they "accept" this, they are giving Iain Duncan Smith the excuses he wants to press on with the devastation ("Oh, THE DISABLED ASKED FOR IT!")

    The IB system was not so broken that it needed mending with ESA and Atos.

    The so-called 'modern concept of disability' used to justify ESA, refers to UNUM and their lying BPS Model that essentially says disability is all in the mind (and due to skiving). This is what Lord David Freud has been using to try to move the goal-posts of disability.

    This murdrous fraud that needs to be repeatedly exposed and challenged.

  105. Joe Cassels @joecassels Suffolk Coastal
    The most effective improvement to ESA and one that might actually save money is to try believing the patient and his or her GP. Illness and disability are not easy options.

    1. Hi joe,
      The nurse that carried out my assessment had three medical certificates from a police doctor. But on her report she stated that me not working was "A lifestyle choice. Needles to say my GP is not very happy and I'm waiting to go to the appeal.
      Another thing is that all the people they take off ESA may not be able to go onto JSA if they have money in the bank. So this is one way of reducing the unemployment figures.

  106. At the very least, ESA needs to accomodate those of us that aren't 100% 'sick'. Some of us have not just fluctuating conditions but find the system incapable of addressing our needs when we feel there are things we could do. This is then assumed to mean 'we are 100% well' and so we have to struggle with JSA. There is a massive and ignored gulf between the only two conditions the DWP recognise: incapable of all work, and capable of any work without question. That has to change; thank you.

  107. Alexa Wilson
    North Wiltshire

    Assessments for ESA should accept evidence from those professionals who know the claimants best - GPs, consultants, physios, speech & language therapists, OTs etc. More understanding is needed of learning disabilities, mental illness and fluctuating conditions.

  108. Beverley @britishroses1
    St Helens North

    Our GP's, consultant, specialist etc. are educated, trained and experienced to assess us and know how we are affected by our illness and/or disability and they should have the final say along with ourselves.

    Sick and disabled people should be taken care of financially, medically and socially. Social security payments for sick and disabled people should be increased, it isn't cheap been sick and disabled.

    For those of us with conditions that will not improve, we should not have to keep reapplying for social security, if we where to get worse and need more help we would let you know.

    We have a right to be treated with respect, and shouldn't have to be living with a lump in our throat day in and day out not knowing if our social security will be stopped and we will be homeless, it is so stressful and causing so many health problems, additional problems we don't need.

    DWP should request and pay for any medical records they want.

    Pay social security as long as the illness/condition requires support, we won't miraculously be able and healthy after 365 days.

  109. Just scrap it, sack ATOS and go back to the old system. And return the rate of mortgage interest rate relief to the old level (3 yrs ago) because in a lot of cases people cannot change from repayment mortgages or obtain new mortgages and if they are forced to move it often costs more to the public purse in terms of paying housing benefit. It's stupid. And exempt those who are long term disabled or who have fluctuating conditions and in many cases would rather work anyhow also from receiving stupid and patronizing advice from those who are often far less qualified. Seek their advice on reform instead of paying consultants and pay them appropriately.

  110. @Robinhoodedman
    Nottingham East - Chris Leslie

    ESA should provide full financial support taking into account specialist needs to deal with whatever conditions apply. It should not be subsistance levels, it should be enough to ensure dignity and comfort for as long as it's needed, including for life.

  111. Those with mental illness/mental health conditions should only ever be interviewed by trained professionals with appropriate qualifications to minimise the risk of harm and trauma. Ideally medical histories/evidence should be sought first to avoid any need for face to face assessment.

    Mental health therapists usually take a sympathetic and sensitive approach when questioning patients, and it can take weeks, months to build up a relationship before a person is able to talk openly about their issues. Atos assessors often wade in with blunt demands and unsympathetic questions which can cause untold damage to a person's delicate mental state.

  112. Suzanna Cook
    Bolton West

    ESA and PIP should be based on the information from our GP's and Specialists. They are the ones that know our condition and the effects it has on our lives. Not some mindless individual who is only employed to cut the benefit bill by whatever means.

  113. Money spent on DLA and ESA and PIP is justly and rightly spent. The biggest waste is that paid to Atos and also agencies paid to find work, who really do not. Also wasted is having so many appeals because of Atos 'mistakes'. Atos should repay much of this. Why were the contracts so badly drawn and monitored?

  114. Simple. Atos or companies like ATOS needs to pay a heavy fine, court costs and financial compensation to the client for each 'fit for work' decission that is overturned through tribuneral.

    Swansea east.

  115. Claire Spong
    High Peak

    There should be structured payments for those trying to get back into work, not just all or nothing, as people are put off trying because they cannot earn as much as their benefit. Some will never be able to work more than part time, but there is no allowance for this.

  116. ABOLISH ATOS Listen to the health professionals, they are the people who know the needs of the individual.
    Cornwall East

  117. To make ESA work the WCA needs to include a 'real work test', the Assessment process should rely on medical evidence from clinicians treating the claimant, no need for duplicating work and paying for useless 'independent' assessments from the likes of ATOS. The DWP Decision Maker should be able to apply the 'Real Work Test' themselves from the medical evidence.

    There is a role for expert, and I stress the word expert, help to be available to anyone able to return to work as and when and in a way they felt able to. In fact it would be helpful to the decision maker if those with expert knowledge of the labour market could feed in to the process, they could advise on applying the 'real work test' for example.
    Job Centre Plus could do this though I doubt the Disability Employment Advisors are up to it. There is a role for both the private and Third Sectors here and for people to either choose those who support them from an 'Approved List' or find their own and for the DWP to pay for it, within reason of course.

    So one would be assessed on the basis of one's own clinicians medical evidence against a 'real work test' in a process informed by a realistic assessment of work being available.

    Those who wanted/needed help to return to work (and everyone should be offered it) should be sure it was the help that was actually useful to them.

    Sanctions would be scrapped. ESA is for sick people not the 'work shy', if someone gets ESA they are by definition sick, punishing sick people is simply cruel.

    Reassessing people needs to be sorted out. Much time and money is wasted here. There is no point reassessing those with long term chronic conditions that won't get better over time, people get older not younger and conditions get worse through co-morbidities and harder to manage with age not easier!
    There is a point in offering them, and anyone in either the WRAG or the SG, support to either work or become 'socially useful', engaged and integrated with their communities etc. on their terms which allow them to prioritise their own health. This model is very different from the 'Work Programme' model and would require a more sophisticated, nuanced approach and a change in emphasis at the DWP to supporting people not punishing them.

    The ending of contribution based ESA for those in the WRAG after a year needs to be reversed.

  118. The ESA reassessment programme has achieved nothing. From just before it commenced in October 2008 to February 2012 the overall claimant count has reduced by just 38,140 - what does that tell you of its effectiveness in getting people off benefits and into work? The programme is just a convenient way of recycling claimants on repeat assessments with appeal/refusal followed by yet another assessment. It works well for government to create 455,000 claimants stuck in in the ESA assessment phase (May 2012) - what better way of keeping a figure of close to half a million from the unemployment statistics?

    Here's how it works....

    (All DWP stats by the way)

    Nickd Mylegalforum

  119. To be of real support it should be based on medical need as confirmed by myself via GP or specialist. The emphasis should be on helping me to achieve the best I can under the circumstances of my illness, a look at what can be healed, what can be managed. Not a cycle of oppression forcing me further into anxiety and distress.

    Jane Crow, Constituency of Rochdale @VoiceofT_Reason (Twitter)

  120. Age

    ESA/WCA The biggest thing I moan about is, that they should look at medical history. All the information is there. So that should save money.

    Newark & Sherwood

  121. Marianne deSantis

    I would like to see an urgent PUBLIC ENQUIRY RE: THE DWP/ATOS DEATH TOLL.

    There should have been such an enquiry after the FIRST death - yet now the deaths have run into thousands, and still continue.

    It conjures up the spectre of the Nazi mass graves of concentration camp dead: how else to visualise this? Innocent and courageous people who already struggled against the odds, and only asked to live out their days in peace and dignity on a modest stipend - all murdered by the UK government.

    Bereaved families should be compensated and provided with the equivalent of war pensions - although nothing can ever be enough.

    1. we have been saying this for the past couple of years but the deaths are still going on and it looks like that will continue until Anne begg mp Work and Pensions Select Committee gets her act together

      she is now a dame so she will be even less effective in getting justice for the bereaved of those that have died in the welfare reform process

      personally i have always thought she was the wrong person for the committee as she has achieved nothing for those that she supposed to be helping

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  123. ESA and WCA are flawed but not many people care enough about the disabled to join us in this fight and fight it is!!

  124. Pip Brook, Sheffield

    My doctors and mental health team should be properly consulted by the DWP, and believed - like me, they don't lie - and support should mean support; it should mean I have the opportunity to make small steps into recovery without unreasonable pressure and expectations.

  125. North Devon Kathleen Hunt@kath_hunt

    Make the measurement descriptive, not prescriptive for an accurate account of how a condition affects every day ability to function.

    I used to be an adult teacher. Assessments for learning outcomes, over the years, have become prescriptive, marked by computers, therefore what is taught and learned is the outcome of questions that can be marked by a computer. This process is restrictive to learning and expansion of the mind.

    Lima uses the same process, as do qualitative surveys - so that the actual questions in themselves depict the answers. Apart from the obvious manipulation to reduce the benefits bill, it is so my cheaper to administer.

    No form caters for everyone. Looking back, when expanding my responses on ESA50 forms, I realise that I was incorporating safely, reliably to a reasonable standard and in a timely manner into my responses.

    Although direct questions are asked, I feel that the DLA format permits this, thus acknowledging the levels of complexity of individual's circumstances and impairment. It also permits linking of activities where one situation impacts on another part of the body. A picture is built up on one's daily life in all areas.

    The WCA ESA should reflect this. Although it would be more costly in the first instance, (essays have to be read and considered), it would enable a decision maker to put themselves in the client's shoes. In the long run, the ATOS quick fix doesn't work, and is not cost effective.

    Backed up with medical evidence from the outset, the whole process would be far more efficient, and decision making accurate.

    Forms with closed questions tend to make the person filling them in to interpret them literally.

    Sorry this is a long post, but the task is thought provoking as a result of reflection on experience.

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  127. According to the Daily Mail, it seems the NHS has been employing foreign nurses with fake qualifications.

    Interestingly, ATOS also employs foreign nurses and medics - often because even such qualifications as they (claim to) hold do not meet NHS standards.

    So could the DWP/ATOS's murdrous and inaccurate WCA tests in many cases be carried out by staff with fake qualifications?

    ATOS has already cost thousands of innocent lives.

    There needs to be an investigation. NOW.

  128. Ian Cropper, Oldham

    I think the system should also look at the route from JSA to ESA as well. It goes counter to government aims, but I think that people who get ill need a secure and quick route to help.

  129. I know there have been people said it before me, as they had on the Starting Gun, but I cannot stress this strongly enough: they need to talk to a Claimant's GP/check their medical history before making a final decision, as a proper decision really cannot be made in an hour's appointment, especially when the decision is being made by someone who NEVER meets the claimant.

    - Tracy Webster
    Rutherglen & Hamilton West

  130. Andy Platt (same on Farcebook), @ncclols, Nottingham North.

    If we MUST have an assessment of fitness for work, then make ESA so that everyone is in the Support Group if they pass it. If they don't pass it, rather than dump them straight off benefit, place them in the equivalent of WRAG for a limited period - this could be fixed e.g. 6 months for everyone or could be flexible. Means people have time to adjust, have help to get back to work. Not feasible to expect people to instantly adjust to JSA regime.

    Note, this is NOT an endorsement of WCA in any way, just suggesting one change to ESA on assumption that some kind of assessment will be part of it.

  131. ESA should assess people realistically and not bring it down to a tick box exercise where the computer invariably says 'no'. It should not be a system that tries to fit a square peg into a round hole.

  132. @VioletNights Isle of Wight

    ESA should be based upon doctors and specialist reports preferably, with no test. If there is a test, specialists should be found for the illnesss that people suffer from. Yes, it would take longer to go through and get results, but at least it would be fair.

    ATOS should not be involved at all, they are an IT company and have no business being paid millions to get any Tom, Dick or Harry to medically assess people as quickly as possible. The money used to pay ATOS could then be used to actually help people who are ABLE back into work, with training, courses and volunteer work suited to their skills and interests. There is no point making someone do something they have no interest in whatsoever, that is just punishment.

    With so many volunteer groups losing funding and having to close down for good, disabled people could help by volunteering in these, maybe bringing theirown experience to the group. If you're disabled and have been out of work for a long time, your confidence needs building up and this would help to do it.

    Most of all, the government needs to stop stirring up hatred and discrimination, and lead by example in treating the most vulnerable in society with respect and care instead of punishing them for something that is not their fault.

  133. No to box ticking, yes to proper medical assessments by professional Drs, pyschologists or psychiatrists.

  134. @urbanimal
    West Dunbartonshire

    ESA should be there to support those who need it in living a life worth living. It should empower and enable people to become a part of society.

    ESA decisions should be made by the recipients' GPs and specialists, not by agencies like ATOS.

  135. Take into account the whole individual and their skills and ability to retran if needed- its ridiculous to decide that someone could do an office job with only experience of manual work and then punish them for employers reluctance to train or adapt.
    Vicky powers- Erewash

  136. Filling out form ESA50 is awful when you are already ill. Please come visit me and interview me and write down my answers, at my home. I am ill, my doctor has certified it, my employer was legally required to accept this as proof I was ill, why can the DWP??

    Barbara, Weybridge, Surrey

  137. Almost all hospitals now give the option for you to be copied any and all correspondence going back to your GP why not ask for all claimants to present this and use as the basis for claiming? The system is already mostly in place and would not therefore place further strain upon medical staff personally I cant see a problem with that!
    Julia Gibbons Warrington Cheshire

  138. ESA and Atos have pushed life in Britain down to the Third World.

    If GPs can validly certify sickness/disability to an employer or insurer, there is no reason they can't do so benefits claims.

    The IB/DLA software is already up, running and efficient, so there will be no extra costs for development.

    People should be moved back to IB immediately to end the holocaust.

    Every day that the govt delays on this is further evidence that the deaths and the suffering a deliberate Coalition policy.

  139. Mike Bennett

    Assessment should START with the medical evidence from the claimants own GP or Consultant - if questioned a suitably qualified assessor should review it.

  140. Jane Winter, Northwest Leicestershire (slothgoth).

    Hard to choose just one thing to improve but I'd say above all return decision-making to GPs and medical specialists. And stop continual re-assessment of people with conditions that can never improve - not only cruel but a vast waste of money!

  141. Nell
    Ayrshire & Arran

    Those in the SG and WRAG should be paid the same amount. Both groups of people are "too sick to work", so it divisive and unfair to provide one group with significantly less income than the other. This will be worse when Universal Credit is introduced.

  142. ESA decsisions should be made by the DR who knows you the most and any hope of employment should be realistic and not based on a tix box list of can's and cant's

  143. Lydia Hendry
    The focus of ESA decision makers should NOT be to eliminate fraud (ensure that those who don't need it, don't get it), but to ensure that all those who DO need it, do get it.

  144. Rowan Thomas, Cambridge

    ESA should be financial support for anyone unfit to work, for as long as they are unable to work from as soon as that is the case. This will allow people to get safely into work in a way that doesn't risk their health. It should be administered by medical personal and take important notice of medical evidence from those treating the person being assessed. It should be a transparent process, making clear questions, making clear what is meant by being able to do a task (safely, repeatedly, in a timely manner etc).

    It should not be time limited for those with limited capability for work, making it possible for families and couples to stay together when illness strikes. It should allow young people who have never been able to work to get support and not force them out from care situation with family.

    It should allow people to be treated with dignity and live in dignity, not treating one of the benefits with one of the lowest levels of fraud be treated with great suspicion. The system should be designed to make correct decisions as much as possible, and to enable people where claims have been refused to appeal safely without causing suffering and death by forcing people off benefit before the decision is looked at again.

  145. rowan your right your benefit entitlement should be because you are ill or disabled long term and not feel a fraud

    i over the years have always been made to feel a fraud as I'm not allowed out the house but i do go out and then get letters you were seen out ? so they then the DWP have to come round the house so that i can explain on why i went out unaccompanied and it's been tough over the years

    My life as only ever revolved around the DWP for the past 33 years and they ain't going to change in the future

    i was lucky to meet nelson Mandela a few years back and he was most shocked on how i live even my tory mp is shocked but i don't get any help maybe one visit a year if i ask and I'm lucky from my mp

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  147. Do away with WCA for a start. Any decision on return or non-return to work to be made by your GP and with any Consultant, OT or Physio input as necessary . ESA to be seen as a right for National Insurance contributors and their families.

    Had to repost this as one sentence made utterly no sense at all!

    1. And of course you need my real name and constituency!

      Peter Hockley
      Brighton Kemptown

  148. M Brett, Blackley Manchester.

    there should be no tick box system; evidence should be asked for from a person's medical history, via their GP or any other evidence they have to give; serious illnesses and the terminally ill should be exempt, and people with incurable illnesses not re-assessed for them; people should be treated with dignity as equals to the non-disabled/chronically ill, not as charity cases and possible cheats, and in the case of people with PTSD and mental illnesses, should not be required to talk about traumatic personal experiences with strangers

  149. I feel fearful about endlessly delving into people's ENTIRE medical histories to justify claims.

    IMHO this endless desperate treadmill to PROVE we are WORTHY, is just playing into IDS's hands.


    The entire ESA system is designed as an EXCUSE so they can get away doing so. (The proof of this is in the horrific death rate).

    The gov't ALREADY KNOW we are disabled.

    More paperchasing and record-hunting, will only give the DWP and Atos extra 'leg-room' for dragging out extra months of inquisitions and harrassment, with the same final agenda of bullying people into dropping their claims.

    If the DWP was willing to believe medical evidence, a GP's sicknote would be enough. Every time. No exceptions.

    (When did anyone last see a doctor sent to jail for masterminding a disability benefits fraud ring??? Why would they bother???)

    Sending in more 'evidence' for ESA claims, would just mean paying Atos or Capita even more billions to process all the extra paperwork...AND AT THE END OF IT ALL, JUST AS MANY PEOPLE WOULD STILL END UP BEING TURNED DOWN.

    According to a solicitor I spoke with, only a corpse would meet the current criterea for the Support Group.

    Up until UNUM began pressurising successive UK governments to 'reform' benefits (so UNUM can make a killing selling insurance), a GP's note was sufficient.

    And now we have a bizarre situation with Atos 'medical workers', who:

    * are generally NOT doctors,
    * can NOT legally diagnose patients (not being doctors)
    * often do not meet minimum NHS qualifications


    The bottom line is that just ONE qualified GP would be sufficient to certify that a person was unfit for work.

    The DWP should be required, by law, to accept the word of that single GP - just as they would have to if it had been a member of DWP staff fallen ill.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. The reason WHY I believe "more evidence" will not help us over ESA is this:

      Whenever IDS and the DWP are confronted by the massive number of ESA decisions overturned at tribunual, their excuse is TO BLAME CLAIMANTS BY ACCUSING THEM OF SUPPLYING INSUFFICENT EVIDENCE with their original claims.

      But is this actually true?

      The fact is that when we are assessed by Atos for ESA, our evidence of what is WRONG with us, is IGNORED AS IRRELEVANT to the tick-box WCA test, which ONLY CARES WHETHER WE CAN PICK UP AN EMPTY BOX OR A POUND COIN.

      Moreover, standard rate ESA (give or take a fiver) is not like DLA which varies according to a person's condition. ESA has a fit/unfit binary evaluation. So the ONLY question that an ESA assessment SHOULD be asking is, "IS THIS PERSON FIT FOR WORK? YES or NO".

      If the claimant's doctor has said "no", and that person has been diagnosed with a permanent condition, there is no further case to be answered, and the benefit should be awarded. Indefinitely.

      If a person has a shorter-term condition, then let them send in medical certificates at reasonable intervals, depending on their doctor's prognosis.

      If a person on long-term benefits should unexpectedly recover, then they are legally obliged to notify the DWP immediately, or face prosecution. So that base is already covered for the DWP.

  150. ESA: "Employment Support Allowance" is an abusive misnomer since NO ONE who recieves it is fit to work.

    WRAG: "Work Related Activity" is spin-talk for "HARRASSMENT" of people who are confirmed by Atos to be unfit for ALL work.

    It MUST be scrapped now.

    All work preparation should be delayed until a person has *genuinely* recovered enough to be claiming JSA. This
    should be a GENTLE TRANSITION (NOT the current bullying and sanctioning) to help ease them back into work.

  151. Long-term disability benefits need to be reclassified as PENSIONS.

    This is what they were classified as until the pernicious involvement of UNUM with every UK government since the mid-1990s.

    Restoring the status of permanently disabled individuals as pensioners, would help repair the damage to our position in society, inflicted by gutter-press 'skiver' propaganda.

    Mendaciously reclassifying those who unfit to work as 'unemployed', has helped open the way for the skiver/scrounger rhetoric, abusive media misrepresentation, and disability hate crime in general.

  152. Back to a simpler system - fit for work or not, with review dates set as appropriate for the individual. (and for life if condition warrants it). With people allowed to try working/volunteering/training without fear. No sanctions. And genuine support.

  153. Tamara Epps
    Central Bedfordshire

    If someone writes on their form that they cannot attend an assessment due to their illness/disability, then this should automatically mean you get given a home visit, and not bully us to attend (by implying our benefits will stop) somewhere we physically or mentally cannot cope with getting to.

  154. Catherine Hale
    Lewisham Deptford

    Bring back Incapacity Benefit. The cross-party consensus that it was a broken system is pure spin to justify reducing the caseload.

  155. Karajan Black
    If your GP says you are not fit for work their word should be enough to get benefits . no more "evidence" should be needed .
    No more bullying , stop this inhumane treatment of the sick and disabled now

  156. Just thought of something else - if you're found 'fit for work' you don't get ESA. And then if the DWP don't think that you are 'available for work' - if you're too ill or disabled - you don't get JSA. Is that correct?

    So can we push to make ordinary people more aware of this massive unfairness? The idea that some people 'aren't sick enough' to get disability benefits is one thing. But the idea that those people won't get unemployment benefit either will be shocking to the public.

  157. ESA should attempt to create a level playing field between those with and without disabilities / chronic illness.

  158. ABOLISH WCA NOW because it exists for the sole purpose of disability denial.

    * The Work Capability Assessment is ideological, and serves the cruel and unscientific BPS doctrine of disability, spun to successive governments (including Labour) by the rogue insurance company UNUM. (The aim is to terrorise the general public into taking out disability insurance with UNUM).

    * The WCA is designed to set ppl up to fail, so they can be removed from benefits, or forced into unlimited workfare.

    * People are only referred for the test when they are ALREADY ON a disability benefit, such as IB or the Assessment Phase of ESA. They would NOT be on such benefits if there were there any doubt about whether they were disabled.

    * The WCA does not detect fraud - which is already so low that pursuing it would cost much more than to write it off. (The money paid to Atos is more than double that lost to fraud. And this is before the costs of tribunuals).

    1. * The two-tier ESA system of WRAG vs. SG is bogus, and has been represented to claimants, doctors, the media and the general public.

      - This is proven by the fact that far from receiving the promised 'unconditional support', many in the SG but are being called for constant re-assessment (especially if a tribunual has ratified the seriousness of their condition).

      - People with permanent and degenerative conditions are being placed in the time-limited WRAG, yet it is still spun to both media and public that WRAG is just for those with short-term or very mild conditions who will recover within two years.

      - It has been shown that the WRAG has been using targets (and that even the wrong targets were used, with about half of those who *should* have been placed in the SG, being sent to WRAG instead). The use of targets proves that selection is based on rationing, rather than on the needs of the individual.


      * 'Work related activity' and Jobcentre visits must be voluntary only.

      - Leave the decision for individuals and their doctors. It is not as if the UK has a shortage of workers.

      * This would reduce the current 'scattergun' situation of resources being spread too thin, and funds could be concentrated on those with a genuine chance of returning to work. For example sponsoring ppl to undertake (genuine, recognised) training of their choice.

      * If a person (genuinely) recovers and moves to JSA, there then should continue to be a gentler transition of a 2-year (genuine) WRAG amnesty (with NO workfare), with much less pressure, to ensure that stress wll not cause them to relapse (particularly vital with MH).

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  159. Corrections due to fibrofog incoherence - sorry:

    * The two-tier ESA system of WRAG vs. SG is bogus, and has been MISrepresented to claimants, doctors, the media and the general public.

    - It has been shown that the WCA has been using targets (and that even the wrong targets were used, with about half of those who *should* have been placed in the SG, being sent to WRAG instead). The use of targets proves that selection is based on rationing, rather than on the needs of the individual.

  160. There is a serious anomaly with the ESA50, causing confusion for claimants, and potentially leading to unfair WCA assessments:

    Most of the questions on the ESA50 form have a tick-box for "It varies".

    However Lord Fraud recently confirmed that if an individual's ability to perform a task is not RELIABLE OR REPEATABLE (or if they can not do it safely or in an acceptable or timely manner), they are regarded as being UNABLE to do it.

    The new ESA50 forms actually include a rubric referring to the same.

    So WHY does the updated test retain the 'it varies' category?

    When someone ticks the box to say that their ability varies, they are stating that they CAN NOT carry out the task reliably, repeatably, etc.

    As such - according to Freud's definition, they should be awarded the FULL points for that question, exactly as if they had simply answered "NO".

    It would seem that the 'it varies' option has no relevance to the way that the rules stipulate the WCA must be scored. So why is it still there - if not to confuse claimants and assessors alike?

    Shouldn't there just be a choice between a 'YES' box which reads: "Yes I can do this reliably, repeatably...etc."? And a 'NO' box stating: "No I can not do this reliably...etc."?

    This raises several questions:

    1. Are people ever awarded 'half marks' for ticking 'it varies', even though Freud has confirmed that the only reason a person should lose points is for answering: "YES I CAN DO THIS RELIABLY".


    3. Do people ever get 'marked down' for ticking 'It varies' to try to express the fact that they CAN NOT RELIABLY perform a task?

    4. How many respondents have been wrongly placed in WRAG or removed from ESA altogether due to the confusion caused by this seemingly entirely redundant and misleading 'it varies' box?

    I have a nasty feeling that Atos and the DWP's answer to all of the above would be 'it varies'.

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