The disability assessment scheme is under assessment itself, with government ministers proposing that it will be changed to become more personal, i.e., more attuned to the needs of different people, rather than a more generalised procedure.
The PIP (Personal Independence Payment) scheme, and ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) are intended to provide money to people with a physical or mental disability to help with their day-to-day requirements. Under the proposed changes, anyone with a severe disability will no longer face reassessment. Instead, more focus will be on how claimants can be helped into work, without putting their benefits at risk.
One of the issues is with employers who consider the disabled to be incapable of work. But with the right support, many disabled are capable of performing any task required of them. A good example of this is Coping Strategy Training, whereby clients are given the tools and methodology needed to work as efficiently as their peers.
Under new proposals, claimants will be assigned to one of two groups:
- Work-related activity group, whereby claimants are deemed currently unable to work but are capable of performing job-hunting activities. They will receive ESA payments while receiving training, guidance and interviews to assist with finding a job.
- Support group, whereby claimants assessed as completely unable to work will receive benefits, but not be expected to engage in seeking employment.
Some have called for the assessments to be scrapped altogether, saying that they cause needless misery and stress for thousands of disabled and sick people. While others say that sitting at home living off benefits is not good and completely wrong.
The CE of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Rebecca Hilsenrath, has suggested that apprenticeship schemes could be used positively to employ more disabled people.
Scope CE Mark Atkinson has said that “The current fit-for-work test doesn’t accurately identify the barriers disabled people face in entering or staying in work.”
Whatever transpires, it is vital that the tests are made to be consistent, fair and above all, accurate.
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