Friday 13 December 2013


Yesterday, Paul Litchfield finally released his Year 4 report into Work Capability Assessments.

There are some good recommendations it it.
  • He suggests setting minimum times for reassessment after a successful appeal (6 months)
  • He concludes that the process needs to be simpler and take less time
  • He finds that both those attempting to claim and the public have little faith in the system. He suggests people should be treated with much more dignity and compassion
There are many other recommendations, many of which echo calls campaigners have been making for some time. 

However, do these recommendations actually matter? Professor Malcolm Harrington, Litchfiled's predecessor, completed 3 previous reviews, but the some of us from the Spartacus network wondered just how many of his original 25 recommendations had actually been rolled out successfully. 

In Litchfield's report he says 

"Of Professor Harrington's 49 recommendations, the Department accepted 35 in 

full and 10 more in principle. Of those accepted in full, 29 have been fully 
implemented, 3 have been partially implemented and 3 are in progress. Of those 
accepted in principle, 5 appear to have been fully implemented, 2 partially 
implemented and 3 are in progress. 

We disagree with his analysis completely. We chose to analyse the first 25 recommendations from the Year 1 Review as we felt that any effects or progress would have had time to be implemented. Of those 25 recommendations, we found that nearly 2 thirds had not been implemented successfully or completely. 

Independent reviews are supposed to be just that. It's hard to understand how our findings can be so very different to those of the Mr Litchfield. 

As ever, we need to make our own news, but I know we can. The Harrington article I posted earlier is already the 4th most read article online today because of YOUR support, YOUR RT's and shares on Facebook and because YOU let people know about it. 

We can show that we are our own media if we all pull together. 


  1. Professor Malcolm Harrington, was not the right person for the job in the first place he just happens to have a good educathion and on making out reports that is all

    no one had ever heard of him prior to these reports he knows nothing of illness or disability so whatever he would be reporting on would be complete and utter rubbish

    his main topics are music, theatre, gardening, cricket and that's about it he is a scientist that is true and a book writer but that does not give him grounds to dictate the needs of the sick and disabled or to advise on what they can and cant do and only a foolish person would fall for such garbage in the first place

  2. I did not have a lot of faith in the independent reviews, as I did not believe that those who responded to the call for evidence with, negative remarks, were listened to. However, I can confirm that Paul Lichfield has noted one of the things I said in response as it is contained in the report, and has been used to back one of his recommendations: I am the Ms R who was asked "what do you feed your cat"

    So, at least they do take note of what individuals say, whether the Government will do anything about Mr Litchfield's subsequent recommendation is another matter!

  3. In my opinion it's a very disappointing review, lacking in any real substance and offers little comfort to those with mental health problems. I agree with Sue that there are some decent recommendations, but overall there's nothing earth shattering in it and I still strongly believe that the whole 5 year review process is nothing more than a tick box / paper exercise.

    In a nutshell Lichfield recommends that HCPs should have 'suitable', 'specific' and 'sufficient' previous experience of dealing with people with mental health problems and states that the MFC initiative has been a 'credible' attempt to bridge any gaps in knowledge!! Apparently he has found 'evidence' that Mental Function Champions (MFCs) are being used (p. 68) especially by less experienced staff - pity he doesn't go into detail about this. He also suggests that HCP training and skills in relation to mental health are reviewed, but again doesn't go into any detail about how, when, who will do this, etc.

    He also recommends that the ESA050 is redesigned so that evidence from support workers, CPNs, carers etc, is also considered rather than the decision being based solely on medical evidence.

    Overall the mental health recommendations are very non specific (again) and don't have any teeth, therefore making them very difficult to measure (assuming DWP accept them). Even if the DWP accepts them I have little faith that they will make any real difference to people going through the assessment process, because we know that the DWP won't bother it's arse to ensure that they are being implemented, monitored and evaluated properly, as we have already seen in the case of the MFC recommendation.

  4. There are some good things in Litchfield's report, but basically it is another bland and superficial review.

    Of course, it would have been naïve to expect anything else. Litchfield’s brief was to confirm that the WCA is conceptually right and to suggest a few tweaks to it, not to address any of the more fundamental issues. So even if all these recommendations are implemented, the WCA will remain a crude benefit eligibility test that divides people into three arbitrary groups, using arbitrary criteria, while failing to identify people’s real barriers to work.

  5. Not good enough.

    The whole thing needs to be scrapped and the decision should be in the hands of the GP, perhaps acting with specialist advice. GP's already sign people off with a sick/fit note. That should be all that's required. None of this assessment or ATOS nonsense. The WCA is a joke from top to toe anyway. Anything else is just an exercise and moving the deckchairs on the good ship Titanic.

    Oh, and I would recommend that people, such as Sue, avoid using platforms such as the People's Voice. That outlet is owned by David Icke who, aside from his laughable theories, is mired in anti semitism. Though he denies such charges there is no doubt that he is at the very least suyrrounded by bigots.

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