28 March 2011

In spite of the fact that the harsh new work capability assessment (WCA), the medical test for employment and support allowance (ESA), became law today, there is still a chance of getting it cancelled. 

But it does depend on you urgently attempting to persuade your MP to get off their . . .  seat and do something useful before they go off on their Easter holidays next week.

Labour leader Ed Miliband and 7 Labour MPs tabled an early day motion on 23 March ‘praying’ for the new WCA to be annulled.  New regulations like these can be overturned by a vote for up to 40 days after they were laid.  Because the DWP messed up the laying of the regulations and had to lay them again, the 40 days does not run out until 6 April.

There is a huge irony in the labour party challenging the harsh new WCA when they actually drew it up themselves, but didn’t have time to implement it before being booted out of power.  The line labour is taking to justify their u-turn  is that the recommendations in the Harrington report should be implemented before any consideration is given to further changes to ESA. 

And, whatever the reason for labour’s change of tactic, there is a chance that there could be a debate, a slim possibility there could be a vote and a tiny chance that the government could be defeated. We know that a similar process in the House of Lords ended in feeble surrender last week, but a tiny chance is better than no hope whatsoever.

So, please consider contacting your MP as a matter of urgency and ask them to support EDM 1651 to try to halt this shameful new test which discriminates against many seriously sick and disabled claimants including, for example, blind people with guide dogs. 

You can view the early day motion here.

You can send a standard form email to your MP objecting to the changes  by entering your details on the Leonard Cheshire website.  You can read and approve the whole email before it is sent, once you have entered your details.

Alternatively, you  can email your MP objecting specifically to the provisions relating to visually impaired people using the RNIB site.

Or you can fax your MP from here

We do apologise that it’s taking us longer than we’d hoped to get the new WCA guides published  - the revised test is as confusing, complicated and unfair as its predecessor. 

But the DWP’s WCA Handbook (180 pages), which is the guidance given to Atos health professionals, and our guide to Understanding ESA (43 pages) can now be downloaded from the members area. (Members only).

Please note:  the site may run slowly or even crash at times on Tuesday given the size of these files and the number of people likely to be downloading them

The guide to qualifying for both the work-related activity group and the support group on physical health grounds (73 pages)will be available from sometime on Tuesday 29 March.  The mental health and learning difficulties guide will be available on Thursday 31 March.

We will also be publishing an extended guide to ESA appeals within the next two months, but in the meantime the current appeals guide still applies.

We welcome suggestions and feedback about the new guides.  You can email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Unless, of course, the new WCA is annulled next week, in which case we won’t care what anyone thinks because we’ll be removing them from the site.

Now, please do go and give your MP – for whom the expenses regime has just been relaxed because it was considered too complex, time-consuming  and unfair - a poke before they go off on their 3 week Easter holiday next Tuesday . 

Which is followed by a 2 week Whitsun holiday at the end of May, 7 weeks summer holiday from mid-July and then nearly 4 weeks off for party conferences from mid- September. 

You can quite understand why they don’t have time to fill in complicated claim forms, can’t you?

Good luck,

Steve Donnison
Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No.  5962666

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