2,000 disabled people wrongly declared ‘fit to work’ by DWP in just three months

Most appeals found the original decision was wrong

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Thursday 08 December 2016 18:05 GMT
Thousands of disabled people were wrongly found to be fit to work
Thousands of disabled people were wrongly found to be fit to work (PA)

Around 2,000 disabled people were wrongly judged to be fit to work by the DWP over the latest three month period, Department for Work and Pensions figures show.

Most appeals against disability benefit fit-to-work decisions were successful in the period June 2016, where show 58 per cent of appeals were upheld.

The number of appeals is also rising compared to the previous quarter, up from 3,400 to 3,600 – despite a falling overall caseload from 145,200 to 96,300.

The DWP said the number of cases brought to appeal was only a small proportion of the overall caseload, while disability charities warned the numbers were a signal that the tests were not working.

From April next year a £30 a week cut to the Employment and Support Allowance rate will apply to new claimants who are incorrectly categorised by the tests – potentially plunging thousands into poverty.

“Today’s figures offer further evidence that the current Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is part of a badly broken system,” Rossanna Trudgian, head of campaigns for the learning disability charity Mencap warned.

“The number of incorrect decisions isn't getting better and remains distressingly high - and behind every single statistic is an individual story of personal misery and anxiety for a sick or disabled person in the UK today.

“The current assessments have been labelled as ‘traumatic’ and ‘intrusive’, and we often hear of the lack of support given to people with a learning disability to answer the questions properly.”

Labour has pledged to cut the Work Capability Assessment tests. Debbie Abrahams, shadow DWP secretary, said the “flawed Tory assessments only create further waste and expense”.

“The fact that such a high proportion of assessments are being overturned at appeal is a damning indictment of this government’s cruel social security reforms and six wasted years of austerity,” she said.

A DWP spokesman said: “Only a small proportion of all ESA Work Capability Assessment decisions are overturned at appeal — just 4 per cent.

“In the majority of successful appeals, decisions are overturned when someone provides new evidence to support their claim.”

This 4 per cent figure is however potentially misleading as it includes decisions where the initial ruling was in the claimant’s favour.

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