Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The ESA labyrinth

Advocacy for people with mental health conditions is set to become a growth industry for 2012. The Benefits Scandal  by Kaliya Franklin and Sue Marsh shows how benefits for eligible individuals are being made harder and harder to access. A short extract on ESA (Employment Support Allowance) follows:

When it was initially proposed, one of the ideas of the Employment Support Allowance was that disabled and sick people should be helped and supported to work if they wished to do so. 

This was a valid and popular idea. Many sick or disabled people would indeed love to work if there was work that they could do. 

But in its present form the ESA is failing: it simply presents the claimant with a series of dead ends, backed up by a whole raft of sanctions and means tests that negate any realistic chance of success. It takes little account of the limitations of individual conditions, or the barriers to work that someone with a fluctuating or mental health condition may face. 

The capability tests that are applied to claimants are simply unfit for purpose. Currently around 40 per cent of cases go to appeal, and of these 40 per cent succeed in overturning the original decision, a figure that rises to 70 per cent for those with representation. 

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