I signed Early Day Motion (EDM) 1126 because I agree that the benefit assessment system needs to be overhauled, especially when it comes to disability benefits.
The current system is not fit for purpose, you can tell this by the percentage of appeals that are won at tribunals:
- In the year 2019-20, 75% of ESA-Work Capability Assessment (WCA) claimants that appealed to the independent tribunal won.
- In the year 2020-21, the DWP conceded 10,990 Personal Independence Payment (PIP) appeals before they even got to a tribunal, and of those that made it, 66% were won by the claimants.
These figures, of course, don’t include the people who couldn’t or wouldn’t put themselves through the appeals process.
Since 2010, the benefit assessment system has been designed to be cruel and punishing, with the private companies in charge of it being financially incentivised to remove claimants’ benefits. In terms of rhetoric and action, there has been a shift against claimants, who are all treated with the utmost suspicion. This has been the political choice of successive Conservative-led governments.
The Health & Disability Green Paper might introduce some positive, procedural improvements, such as giving DWP decision makers extra time to look at evidence and make decisions. However, unless it fundamentally changes the Government’s approach to the benefits system and claimants, then it will still be cruel and punishing.
Therefore, when the Health & Disability Green Paper is introduced to Parliament, my Opposition Colleagues and I will be advocating for what we have long advocated for, a benefits system that is fair, effective, and compassionate.