David's Blog

Motor Neurone Disease and the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Fri, 26th May 2017

I am pleased that the Government no longer requires people claiming ESA within the ‘support group’ with “severe lifelong conditions” to face regular re-testing to check that they remain eligible. It was a waste of time for the assessors and caused people with disabilities unnecessary worry. I think that motor neurone disease meets the description of being severe and lifelong because it progresses rapidly. It seems wrong that it has been excluded from the list of conditions that exempt a claimant from re-testing.

Therefore, I am happy to sign MDNA’s pledge to abolish reassessments for people with motor neurone disease

However, there is a wider problem that the Work Capability Assessment is no longer fit for purpose. It is widely mistrusted by disabled people, medical professionals and the wider public. Claimants worry that the assessments do not take into account the patient’s medical history. By outsourcing the assessment to private contractors, the Government has increased suspicion about the aims of the assessment. If claimants don’t trust the system and do not feel able to be completely honest to their assessor, then the assessment needs to be changed.

Liberal Democrats would abolish the Work Capability Assessment as it currently exists. We would replace it with a new test run by local councils that is similar to their assessments for eligibility to help with social care. The new tests would include a ‘real world’ element where councils consider whether the applicant could work in the types of jobs that are available in the local area.

Balancing the books on the backs of the disabled and demonising those who claim benefits is neither acceptable nor responsible. The Liberal Democrats will reverse cuts to ESA to those in the work-related activity group and raise working-age benefits in line with inflation. We will stand up for disabled people where the Conservatives have failed to do so.