Fibromyalgia Action UK
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Making More Assumptions - UK government due to make changes to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) - Please Read

The Government are apparently about to sneak in some important changes to the WCA for ESA which I think everyone should be aware of:

"On January 28th 2013 the UK government is due to make a set of changes to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The WCA is the flawed ‘fitness to work’ test which assesses whether sick and disabled people can get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA): a benefit designed to help and support very unwell or profoundly disabled people into work.

Although these changes have been advertised as small ‘amendments’, they will in fact have a huge impact on the way people’s illnesses and disabilities are assessed. Many vulnerable people’s needs will suddenly be able to be overlooked or ignored, meaning they could end up losing the support they desperately need to manage their conditions.

Hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people across Britain need your help to fight these changes!


In the fitness to work test, your needs are assessed by a ‘healthcare professional’ employed by the French private company ATOS. This assessor doesn’t just need to look at your current difficulties. For example, they can also imagine how using an aid (e.g. a wheelchair) might improve your ability to work and make a judgement based on that – without even asking your opinion!

However, soon this “imaginary test” will be able to be used for many more aids (including guide dogs and false limbs!). This means that soon thousands more people could be judged as fit to work, without being asked about why the assessor’s “imaginary aid” might not be appropriate for them.

It gets worse. Even if returning to work may clearly put you at risk, these changes will mean you can still lose your disability benefit – as long as the assessor believes that trying a new therapy or treatment might reduce that risk. In other words: yet another guessing game, with your health at stake!

>>> Imagine Bert, who suffers from severe schizophrenia, but is found fit to work because a behavioural therapy may help improve his condition. Yet, in making that decision, the assessor would not have to look at several vital questions: how hard it would be for Bert to get that therapy? How long would an NHS appointment take to organize? Are there private options in his area – and could he afford them if so? What if the therapy doesn’t work, or takes a long time to adjust to? <<<

If the government’s rule changes go through, people like Bert who are desperate to work will find it nearly impossible to get an accurate assessment, affecting the quality of their support and even preventing their efforts to get back into work.


The government is also trying to change the way people’s conditions are assessed by dividing health problems into two separate boxes: ‘physical’ and ‘mental’. When looking at what tasks people can do, only the ‘physical half’ of the test will apply to those with physical disabilities. The same goes for the effects of treatment: for e.g., if you’re taking mental health medication, only mental health side-effects will be looked at.

This completely fails to understand the way that many disabilities and illnesses can lead to both physical and mental effects. This is also the case for many common treatments: such as those for schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

>>> Think of Emily, who suffers severe, chronic pain because of nerve damage to her leg. Emily is among the 49% of chronic pain sufferers who also suffer depression as a result of continuous pain. An assessor may see Emily as able to do some work as long as she takes strong painkillers for the rest of her life, meaning she could pass the ‘fitness’ test. Yet the painkillers may not deal with the depression caused by her condition. Painkillers have also often been shown to affect people’s wakefulness and decision-making. So taking the medication may affect Emily’s ability to do a job in a completely new way – yet these new problems would not need to be looked at by the assessor when making their decision! <<<

Pretending the effects of illnesses and disabilities can be separated in this way goes against all medical practice. Going even further, and using this method to ignore sick and disabled people’s needs, is at best hopeless policy, and at worst deliberate cruelty. We cannot let the government treat some of the most vulnerable people in British society in this way.


The main way you can help is by spreading the message about these changes to ESA. The government have tried to sneak them under the radar – the last thing they will want is people talking about them!


Here are some great ways you can raise awareness:

1) Email your MP (you can search by name or constituency at

2) Share this blog post on twitter (using the hashtag #esaSOS), Facebook and other social media; CLICK ON THE BUTTONS BELOW THIS POST TO SHARE ON TWITTER AND FACEBOOK

3) Email your friends and family a link to this post – or simply talk to them about it!

Again, the main way we can get the government to reconsider is by getting people to talk about the injustice of these changes. So please spread the word as far and wide as you can!

Thank you so much for reading this far. Now let’s make sure these unwanted, damaging benefit changes never see the light of day!

If you want to do more, please sign WOW petition and call on the government to think again.

Sign here wowpetition .com and ask all of your friends to sign too"

Taken from Sue Marsh's diaryofabenefitscrounger .blogspot .co .uk

14 Replies

I cannot understand why someone has not taken this to the European Court of Human seems to me the rights of the disabled are being jumped all over with hobnailed boots....not just trampled on.


I totally agree Cat, surely it is discrimination, what can we all do?


we can make a noise until someone actually, listens..My local MP and County Councillor were amazing..We all have to stick together and fight for our 'Rights' x


My councillor and MP are both Consertative, and are not bothered, they see people like me a drain on society, not a woman, who had to give up a well paid job, to go onto Incapacity Benefit, Now ESA, they see a shirker, not a woman, who would dearly love to go to work, if there were any jobs out there.......but is in so much pain, confused, and has depression, The consertative are not bothered, if anyone knows of any ralillies if I am able I would go to them


We should all stand together x


I went through a medical a couple of years ago to change from incapacity to ESA and yet my benefit still says its incapacity does this mean that i may have to go through it all again?. I was also prosecuted last year for apparently failing to notify change in circumstances as i tried to attend university a couple of years ago but failed due to my health ended up with a criminal record and have to pay back money which they are deducting from me. Today i get a letter saying i had contacted them asking for my payments to them to be reduced I hadn't contacted them so got on the phone the end result was that they are going to deduct more money from what i have coming in as they think i have too much to live on. I am sitting here freezing cold because i cannot afford to have the heating on, I haven't brought any food since christmas as i have no money but according to them i have too much when i went through what i spend each month i said Hobbies and leisure which is what the CAB did and she said i wasn't allowed that so explained that i needed to be able to go to a pool to do gentle exercise so that was allowed. I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't go out what is the point of the whole thing. My friend has just had her forms through for ESA not sure how she will get on with it. But it the first medical she has had in 7 years I have had 3 in that same time and yet have had so much more surgery and health problems. I am now dreading this PIP I am sure i will be one of the first to get the forms! So much for being positive this year every time i try something comes along and knocks me off my feet again. This just gets tougher and tougher is it really worth it!!


Hi I'm new here but am a fellow suffer of fybro,cfs,depression and now copd having had several medicals in the past year and on the advice of the job centre am now appealing to be moved into the support group I totally agree and am behind Cat53 why has all this not been taken and challenged in the courts of human rights we the disabled community need to join forces before people can no longer afford to support themselves and end up homeless and worse while the "glorified so called government " carry on living in the luxury lifestyle they are used to on our money.


Earlier today there was a Backbench Debate on Atos and Work Capability Assessments in the House of Commons which had been secured by Michael Meacher MP (@michaelmeacher) . Across the political parties MPs all had constituents who had been put through the mill by Atos - some survived, some not. During his summing up at the end of the debate he said

"The consensus of the whole house is that #ATOS has failed. I've never seen such unanimity & the House will not let this go".

Even Tory & Libdem MPs were saying Atos is too damaged to be allowed to continue. If you are on Twitter check out #esaSOS to see some of the comments made during the debate.

Mark Hoban, the DWP Minister was, however, still supporting Atos & was at pains to state (again) that there are no targets set by DWP or Atos for declaring people fit for work (aye right - if you watched the C4 Dispatches programme back in July you might remember they were called "statistical norms" instead!). Needless to say he rejected all the calls from MPs to scrap the WCA!

There is a copy of Michael Meacher's opening speech on Youtube at the moment (don't think I'm allowed to post the link).


There is a Disability Activist in Canada who has written to the United Nations:

"Dear Mrs. Bensouda,

I am a 56-year-old Disability Studies specialist from Montreal, Canada who has been reporting frequently for the past year to the United Nations on the crisis for the United Kingdom’s sick and disabled. Austerity measures, consisting of draconian welfare reforms and “sham” means-testing (Atos Healthcare U.K. and the Department for Work and Pensions) are ostensibly to blame for their plight—with disability hate crime and inflammatory media attacks factored into this mix.

I have a plethora of evidence but for the purpose of brevity, see:

(He lists a number of websites providing evidence. If anyone wants to see the letter in full please send me a private message.)

I am interested in filing an ICC complaint against several British Ministers—namely, Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling, and Maria Miller for their role in the draconian welfare reforms and the resultant deaths of their society’s most vulnerable.

My questions are as follows: Are austerity deaths of the sick and disabled in the U.K. considered a crime against humanity by the ICC? Would the UNCRPD be taken into consideration by the court?

I am aware of a submission to the ICC by psychologists Olga and Tanya Yeritsidou regarding a request for a Greek austerity trial at the Hague—so there appears to be precedent in this matter. Based on the preliminary evidence that I have submitted with this letter, do you believe that the sick and disabled of Britain have a justifiable ICC case?

I look forward to hearing from you at the earliest possible convenience. My personal information is on file with the UN CRPD Secretary, Jorge Araya. My street address follows below.

Best wishes.

Samuel Miller."

Samuel is on Twitter as @Hephaestus7


Grrrr, it makes me SO mad that Atos can "assume" SO much., and get away with it, while making vulnerable peoples lives an absolute misery, to the point of committing suicide. What they DONT assume is that we can think for ourselves about what help we need i.e. wheelchair, false limbs, stronger pain killers etc, and IF we didn't think about those things ourselves, our GPs/specialists/consultants would have. We're ill, not stupid. I feel insulted by that assumption by Atos/DWP. Our GPs etc know our conditions best and are qualified to treat us with the appropriate meds and aides, but there input is largely ignored. Its the real "scroungers and wasters" who cant think for themselves, NOT US. We need help, not hindrance. I suffer physical and mental problems, which are related to each other, so will i be offered a separate assessment for each? I doubt that very much.


Hi my name is caroline i also suffer from fibro depression, rls, insomonia, and a host of other things as well i also have been told that i am fit for work which is crazy and stupid i have not been able to work 4 over 10yrs




My local MP is tory and he totally agrees with this murderous government. So there is no point asking for his support. He doesnt seem to understand what this government are doing to those on benefits, even though I have written and laid it out for him. He is blind


On 17 Jan 2013 there was an all party Backbench debate triggered by an e-Petition about ATOS Work Capability Assessments & sponsored by the Rt Hon Michael Meacher MP (you can look up the debate in Hansard).

One thing the debate proved was that there were Tory & Lib Dem MPs just as horrified by the tales from their constituents with regards to ATOS assessments as those from the other parties. I doubt if there are any Tory/LibDem MPs who haven't had a constituent affected by WCAs & who may even be personally horrified by what they hear but who feel they have to toe the Party line publicly. The more stories Government MPs hear about the bad effects that WCA is having on their constituents the more it may focus their attention to the fact that lots of unhappy constituents doesn't make good PR come election time.

Thanks to various campaigns & public pressure there have already been some changes for the better made to PIP (especially for fluctuating conditions like Fibro) and it looks as though Universal Credit is going pear-shaped for them (the IT system still isn't working properly). Hopefully the more people who are willing to stand up & say "enough" the more chance of change.


Well done i`m terrified to claim esa and are still on jsa even though if there was a job for me

now would i be able to cope with getting there i don`t walk so good this year many things go

especialy my ambulence.robh


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