Response to new work, health and disability strategy
The Government’s new strategy on disability and employment, ‘Improving Lives: the Future of Work, Health and Disability,’ fails to address the objections raised by the MND Association and other disability organisations to last year’s Work, Health and Disability Green Paper.
As the Association pointed out in its response to the Green Paper, it is essential that the Government acknowledges the circumstances of those people who will not be able to return to work due to disability. For some disabled people, returning to work is a not a realistic option. This is true for many people living with severe and progressive conditions such as MND.
The Association called on the Government to take steps to ensure that people with no prospect of returning to work are not forced to participate in inappropriate back-to-work initiatives in order to receive the benefits they need. Unfortunately, the strategy published today ignores these concerns and fails to acknowledge that employment-related initiatives are not suitable for all disabled people.
More positively, the strategy outlines the Government’s intention to work with patient organisations to improve the design of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). However, the strategy does not address the key criticism of ESA, which is its reliance on a flawed and failing Work Capability Assessment (WCA) to assess eligibility.
When WCA decisions are successfully appealed 68% of the time, it is clear that the process is not working for claimants. This undermines confidence in the welfare system, causes unnecessary stress and anxiety, and wastes Government resources on avoidable reconsiderations and appeals.
It is disappointing that the Government has failed to respond adequately to the clear concerns of people living with disability. The MND Association calls on the Department for Work and Pensions to work with the sector to address these concerns and ensure that everyone receives the support they need and are entitled to.