Contrasting views of disability work test

A contrasting picture of the operation of the work capability assessment for disabled people has appeared in two new reports. The first, an officially commissioned review, says no fundamental change in the system is needed. The second documents the actual experiences of disabled people going through the test.

Harrington review

The third independent review report, by Professor Malcolm Harrington, concedes that the assessment continues to be portrayed in an extremely negative light, often fuelled by 'adverse media coverage', 'representative groups', and 'political points scoring'. But while there are reports of individual cases of people being poorly treated by the process, the government can be 'reasonably pleased' with what it has achieved. A further period of radical reform to the process is not needed, Harrington believes, although he says some areas for improvement remain.

Disabled People Against Cuts

In contrast, a report by campaign groups highlights a series of deficiencies in the system, drawing on disabled people's own experiences of the assessment process. Almost 70 per cent of those surveyed were not aware they could ask for a recording of the assessment. 74 per cent said it was difficult for them to travel to the assessment centre – yet almost half (47.5 per cent) were not aware they could ask for a home assessment. 64 per cent of those who said their doctors were told not to provide written support said this was because of pressure exerted by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Sources: Malcolm Harrington, An Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment – Year Three, Department for Work and Pensions | What's Your Experience of the Atos/Work Capability Assessment (WCA)? Survey Responses, Disabled People Against Cuts (with Black Triangle/Social Welfare Union)
LinksHarrington report | Government response | Hansard | DWP press release | Citizens Advice press release | Labour Party press release | Mind press release | Rethink press release | RNIB press release | Scope press release | TUC press release | DPAC report | DPAC press release