The Demos think tank has released a report in which it demonstrates that disabled claimants are more likely to be sanctioned than non-disabled claimants and that things may get even worse. The report recommends that all ESA assessments are recorded and that claimants are no longer sanctioned for failing to meet “impossible conditions”.
In its report ‘A better work capability assessment is possible’ Demos reveals that:
“In total, over a million benefit sanctions have been applied to disabled people since 2010, mainly those claiming JSA.”
The report goes on to say that the situation may become even worse for disabled claimants:
“Now the government is considering increasing the conditionality for WRAG claimants, and adding some limited conditionality to Support Group claimants.”
The report finds that disabled claimants were much more likely to be sanctioned:
“disabled people on JSA were 26–53 per cent more likely to be sanctioned than non-disabled JSA claimants between 2010 and 2014, which provides some statistical support to the widespread view that this process was unfair.”
Demos makes a number of recommendations, including:
The Government should ensure that assessors’ reports can unquestionably be trusted by audio recording all sessions and reviewing an annual sample.
Assessors should be required to ask claimants if they have an explanation for any evidence which seemingly contradicts their description of their impairments, rather than jumping to the decision that they are wrong.
Overhauling the ‘descriptors’ to better reflect the realities of the British labour market, including allowing for the combined effect of multiple impairments – likely the case for at least half of all disabled people.
The Government should reduce the extent of benefit conditionality disabled people face and strengthen safeguards to ensure disabled people are not unfairly sanctioned for failing to meet impossible conditions.
You can download the Demos report, ‘A better work capability assessment is possible’ here