Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guidelines are encouraging assessors to consider the “benefit” that employment can have for claimants at risk of suicide who would otherwise be marked unfit for work.
Earlier this month, the government released figures that show the amount of successful applications to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) has been falling from the start of the year.
According to a DWP spokesperson, this is nothing out of the ordinary:
We expected the proportion of claimants placed in the Support Group to fall as the backlog of new claims reduced, due to fewer claims leaving the benefit before reaching their Work Capability Assessment.ut this drop must be considered in light of the changes in guidance that came into effect at the start of 2016.
Risks and benefits
Previously, guidance for the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) advised that someone who is a suicide risk should be placed in the Support Group. This is the higher level of benefit, for those who are severely disabled and cannot work.
Now, the guidance says something different entirely:
If you conclude that finding a claimant fit for work would trigger risk of suicide or self-harm then you need to consider whether there are factors that would mitigate the risk if the claimant were found fit for work.
According to the WCA Handbook, these factors include whether the risk to physical or mental health is “substantial”, whether the benefits of employment outweigh the potential risks, and whether “reasonable workplace adjustments or prescribed medication” could reduce the risk.
Specifically, it says:
Remember that there is good evidence that people in work have better health outcomes and are at lower risk of suicide.
Read more here: http://evolvepolitics.com/suicidal-dwp-wants-go-back-work/