Former DWP ministers could face police investigation over fit-to-work tests

A complaint was made against Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling

Police in Scotland are assessing whether to launch a criminal investigation into two former DWP ministers’ handling of so-called disability fit-to-work tests.

Disabled activist John McArdle of the Black Triangle campaign lodged a complaint with police in March against Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling, according to the Disability News Service news agency.

He told police in Edinburgh that the two ministers had ignored a coronor’s concerns about the safety of the tests, which are used to judge whether a disabled person receives benefits.

He also produced evidence of suicides he said were related to fitness-to-work tests.

Mr McArdle says the ministers may be guilty of “willful neglect of duty by a public official”, which is a criminal offence.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service, willful neglect “can be the result of a positive act or a failure to act”.

“There must also be an element of knowledge or at least recklessness about the way in which the duty is carried out or neglected,” the CPS explains.

“The test is a subjective one and the public officer must be aware that his/her behaviour is capable of being misconduct.”

More people come forward in the DWP ‘Kill Yourself’ scandal

On 28 February, The Canary reported the case of a woman who claimed an assessor working on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) asked her why she hadn’t killed herself yet.

Since we published that report, several people have approached us claiming the same thing happened to them. In this follow-up, we are publishing several of their testimonies. We have also spoken to Atos, the company which carries out assessments for the DWP. And in a separate report, we have discussed these claims with the President of the British Psychological Society, Peter Kinderman.


Several people contacted us with similar stories to Alice Kirby’s. Most have asked that we do not mention them by name. The majority of them said they feared it could affect their claims.


I was asked by a woman at the Atos PIP interview: ‘Why haven’t you killed yourself yet?’ I remember it very clearly. I left the room in tears and had my PIP cut. I was too afraid to complain in case they took all the money off me.

read more here:


‘How could you be so heartless?’ – Government stop benefits of severely disabled man

The Durham man, who is registered blind among other conditions, has had his benefits stopped after failing to respond to a letter

A severely disabled man and his family have been thrown into despair after Whitehall beancounters decided to stop paying vital disability benefits.

County Durham man Alan Moody, 60, was declared unfit to work by his GP some 10 years ago after being diagnosed with cerebellar ataxia – a rare genetic brain condition.

Despite this Mr Moody of Leith Gardens, Stanley was summoned to a Department for Work and Pensions ‘work capability assessment’ so that he could continue to qualify to receive employment and support allowance – which equates to £450 a month.

One of the effects of Mr Moody’s condition is blindness and because of this he did not read the letter sent to him by the DWP.

As a result of his non reply the DWP took the decision on November 2 to stop paying the vital £225 a fortnight to Mr Moody.

Elder brother Terry Moody, 65, who is also Alan’s carer, told how he pleaded and appealed to the DWP to review their decision – something they did and stood by.

He said: “I cannot believe they’ve done this, how could they be so heartless. He has been disabled for 10 years, he cannot work, he needs this money.

“I have tried appealing to them but they say they are standing by it, I am trying to appeal again”

Read more and see the video here:

Work Capability Assessment: a toxic failure for the disabled

Originally posted by Anonymous here

The main sickness benefit for disabled people is Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Eligibility is assessed via the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The WCA is a rigid points system, that assesses your ability to carry out very basic tasks. In order to be classified as unfit for work, you need to ‘score’ at least 15 points.

John Hutton laid the groundwork for ESA in 2006 (in the interim he considerably harshened the criteria for Incapacity Benefit).  By 2008, ESA had replaced incapacity benefit for new claims. From the outset, the draconian WCA caused severely ill people to be deemed fit for work. Londoner, Vincent Nestor had incurable stomach cancer, and additionally, he was waiting for a triple heart bypass operation, yet he scored zero points and was declared “fit for work”.

Despite such cases as these Yvette Cooper introduced an even more draconian WCA.  A few days before the 2010 General Election, coroner Tom Osborne, wrote to Cooper, stating that the WCA had caused 43-year-old Stephen Carre to take his life, and the continued programme would lead to further suicides. The incoming coalition Tory-Lib Dem government ignored his concerns.

The WCA exists to deny benefit to as many people as possible.

In theory, it focuses on what people can do, rather than on what they cannot. This enables the DWP to ignore the reality of disability. The WCA assesses deafness by people’s ability to read, and determines blindness by people’s ability to hear.

It omits any reference to bending and kneeling, as apparently this is no longer part of the workplace. Amputees are assessed by their ability to lift empty cardboard boxes with their stumps and most bizarrely of all, WCA assesses mobility problems with an imaginary wheelchair. Consequently, if you can use a wheelchair to whatever they deem a ‘qualifying’ degree, you score zero points for mobility problems.

There are many accomplished wheelchair users (e.g. 11-times gold medal winner Tanni Grey-Thompson), but the reality is, a wheelchair does not equate to a functioning set of legs. There are many problems with using one; the main one being getting your wheelchair and yourself into a car. Other than having a carer or someone to lift the wheelchair into the boot and then help you into your seat, there does not seem to be any other viable solution. Furthermore, in my experience disabled lifts are generally locked; and finding someone to get the key takes up time and energy (or requires a carer). Using a wheelchair can also cause fatigue and pain.

The WCA does not relate to the world of work as it requires people to carry out a very narrow set of tasks such as lifting a 0.5 litre carton or using a pen to make ‘a meaningful mark with either hand’. It goes without saying that the average two-year-olds would be capable of performing these tasks. I was frequently bullied by school teachers over my illegible handwriting, however as I can make a ‘meaningful mark’ (assuming this means a squiggle or adding my name to a birthday card), I would score no points for this.

Criteria for dexterity is ludicrous: someone with Parkinson’s disease, a condition that causes shaking, could score only nine points for dexterity simply because they could push a button with one finger (once). This could ultimately deem them fit for work simply for having the same level of dexterity as a dog.  The threshold for reaching is, ‘Cannot raise either arm as if to put something in the top pocket of a coat or jacket.’  I cannot find any jobs that place emphasis on reaching. Most jobs that involve reaching, tend to involve lifting as well (e.g. shelf-stacking) or co-ordination (e.g. decorating).

It goes without saying none of these ‘skills’ improve a person’s employment prospects. When I did careers advice at school, no-one ever suggested we should list the ability to operate an alarm clock on a CV or job application.

The reality is that in the world of work, people get turned down for jobs if they do not qualify for them. If a person without a medical degree applies to be a doctor, the hospital will not give them the job simply because they can take someone’s pulse.

And I’m pretty sure employers would not overlook the fact I am mostly bed-bound simply because I can pick up a pound coin.

Work Capability Assessment: a toxic failure for the disabled

Basically Damian green this rehash of the Work Capability Assessment is a crock of shit.

by Paula Peters

Damian Green,

So you announce the launch of the consultation regarding the work capability assessment

We know by cutting the ESA WRAG group by £30 a week takes it to JSA levels effectively abolishing the ESA WRAG group

That you are looking at the support group of ESA and taking that to ESA WRAG you think all disabled people can be working even if it’s a couple of hours a week

Remember IDS ass that he is saying workless is not an option, his words

Tell me Damian Green and explain this

You want disabled people working yet you:
*Abolish the post of disability employment advisor
*Your government caps the access to work budget and cap how much disabled people’s access to work packages are
*You close the independent living fund
*We have to book 24 or on some lines 48 hours in advance to book accessibility on a train
*Only 100 companies out of thousands have signed up to the disability confident scheme (employers are unconfident about hiring us as they see disabled people as liability)
*You cut the disabled students allowance
*You are getting rid of motorbility cars after disabled people have a PIP assessment which means disabled people have had to stop working
*You are closing deaf and disabled people’s organisations by starving them of funding
*You are closing libraries a fifth of disabled people have no access to a computer except via the library
*You have got rid of freedom passes for thousands of disabled people
*You cut healthcare funding

*The health and work programme funding is a cut of 80% and doomed to fail

Basically Damian green this rehash of the WCA is a crock of shit
What it means for disabled people
Bullying and coercion
Horrendous stress
Ramping up of sanctions
More suicides of people in mental distress and disabled people dying

It’s about the entire abolition of the welfare state

Work will set you free

Working for free while charities involved profit

Total horse shit all of it

Bastards this government bastards

‘Fit for work’ suicide man’s sister tried to take her own life after DWP ordeal

The sister of a man driven to suicide by the “fitness for work” system tried to take her own life after being “treated like a criminal” by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over her benefit claims.

Eleanor Donnachie believes her brother Paul (pictured) was a victim of DWP’s failure to ensure the safety of people with mental health conditions in vulnerable situations who apply for employment and support allowance (ESA) through the work capability assessment (WCA) system.

read more here:

Man leaves coroner letter as he fears Work Capability Assessment will kill him —

The government have persistently denied any “causal relationship” between their welfare reforms and an increase in premature deaths and suicides, despite an existing correlation. Figures released last year show that between December 2011 to February 2014, 4,010 people died after being told they were fit for work, following a Work Capability Assessment (WCA). 40,680 died within […]

via Man leaves coroner letter as he fears Work Capability Assessment will kill him — Politics and Insights

Stroke victim ‘told to take back-to-work test while still in hospital’

Labour MP Iain Wright said the case was one of the most disgraceful he had heard from constituents on sickness benefits

An MP is demanding an investigation after a stroke victim claimed she was told she must undergo a back-to-work test – while in a hospital stroke unit.

Labour’s Iain Wright said the case was one of the most disgraceful he had heard from constituents on sickness benefits who have been told to undergo a work capability assessment (WCA).

Mr Wright said the woman, who did not wish to be identified, had come to him in great distress, blaming the actions of the private firm Maximus, which carries out the assessments.

He told The Independent: “I found this case both utterly shocking and completely disgusting.

“It demonstrates all too vividly how inhumane and uncivilised the Government’s welfare reform policy is.”

Mr Wright vowed to write to Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green to demand to know whether such practice was allowed – and to get a “full apology to my constituent”.

The case is the latest in a very long line of controversies surrounding the WCA, which is undergone by sick and disabled people attempting to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

read more here:

TUC conference 2016: work capability assessments


Thr Trades Union Congress notes the Guardian report on 16 November 2015 that Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) have been linked to 590 suicides and 725,000 prescriptions of anti-depressants in the last three years.

Congress also notes that a senior coroner in North London, Mary Hassell, linked the suicide of Michael O’Sullivan in 2013 directly to a WCA, after he was declared fit for work.

Congress believes that enough is enough and that the time has come for action before more lives are lost. The DWP and government have been brought into disrepute and must be held to account.

Congress agrees with organisations such as DPAC (Disabled People against the Cuts) and MIND that WCAs must be scrapped in their current format and replaced by a fair and humane process.

Congress therefore instructs the incoming Disabled Workers Committee to campaign for reform using all means at its disposal