Latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) may finally help the Tory-led coalition realise that there really ARE some sick and disabled people in Britain who are simply too ill to work.
The number of people entitled to sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) has soared to all-time high, official figures (pdf) released in March by the DWP show.
From a low of 35% in 2009, the number of people found eligible for ESA following an initial assessment has risen to 69% in 2013, whilst the number of people found ‘fit for work’ has decreased from a high of 65% in 2009 to just 31% in April-June 2013.
The government would probably suggest the increase in the number of people found eligible for ESA is due to improvements made to the assessment process – and to an extent that may be true – but the simple truth we must all accept is that some people are too ill or disabled to work.
In a civilised society those people should be given the full support they need and not constantly subjected to an inhumane and demoralising testing regime.
Figures also show that the number of sick and disabled people placed within the support group of ESA has also increased. This group of people are not expected to be able to begin looking for work anytime soon. The number of people found ‘fit for work’ following an initial work capability assessment (WCA) has decreased to 31%. The Work Related Activity Group, or WRAG, is for those claimants who are regarded as unfit-for-work but may be able to in the near future.
The number of sick and disable ESA claimants found capable of work following repeat assessments is also showing a downward trend.
However, it’s bad news for sick and disabled people who may be planning to appeal against a ‘fit for work’ decision as the number of decisions being overturned in favour of the appellant is falling, figures suggest. This may be a result of changes to the benefit appeals system, which means claimants must first request the decision be reviewed (mandatory reconsideration) before they can appeal the decision to a social security tribunal.