Fit for purpose?

The TUC have today produced a report which is shedding light on the problems being thrown up by the Government’s drive to move benefit claimants off Employment and Support Allowance and on to  Jobseekers’ Allowance.

The Government has used private firms, such as Atos Origin Ltd, to carry out the assessment reviews of claimants. These firms have passed fit to work people who have been previously declared unfit. People like Sue Hutchings who was awaiting surgery following breast cancer. Or John Watkins, an HGV driver who had one arm in a full-length plaster cast.

Private companies who may well be paid by result, and will certainly be competing against other contractors for the best ‘performance’, seem to be moving people onto JSA who aren’t really fit to work.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

‘With the proposal to move more than a million benefit claimants from ESA on to JSA by next October we have to put the DWP under the spotlight.

‘This is yet another example of where the Government is attacking the poor in a crude attempt to save money and curb public spending.

‘Ministers keep telling us that the cuts will be fair and that everyone has to play a part in reducing the deficit, but this is a clear example of how some of the most vulnerable are being made to suffer in the new age of austerity.

‘The DWP decides how benefits assessments are carried out, and must ensure this process is responsible, transparent and – above all – fair.’

The DWP are deliberately declaring people fit for work when they are patently not fit just to save money. In among  the spending review, job losses, and other cuts, it’s unlikely that this will get either the press coverage or political action it deserves.

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