ESA and WCA survey: background and guidance notes

By Press Office
September 25, 2015

Ekklesia is committed to the abolition of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). We are therefore working with Stef Benstead, an independent researcher who lives personally with the issues she is researching, to help develop a new system designed by disabled people. We invite you to take part in our surgery. Trigger Warning: The survey is a standard questionnaire which we hope the majority of people will feel comfortable with. We are aware, however, that for some people, filling in a questionnaire like this will remind them of the distress caused by the WCA. If you feel this may be the case for you but have ideas about the new system, we invite you to send your thoughts via the email address provided.

Today (25 September 2015) Ekklesia is launching a survey for people with long-term illness or disability (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/esawcasurvey). This is part of a ground-breaking project to enable disabled people design an new system.

Along with very many others, Ekklesia believes that the WCA is fundamentally flawed in multiple ways, to the point where it cannot be fixed. Instead, it needs to be abolished and a new system designed. Our survey is based on the idea that the people best able to help achieve this change are those who will be affected – people with long-term illnesses and/or disabilities.

This work is being carried out on behalf of Ekklesia by independent and experienced researcher Stef Benstead. Stef has been working on issues relating to disability and social security for over four years, since she first became ill herself. Prior to becoming ill, she was at university studying for a PhD but was unable to sustain this programme due to her condition. Most of her work in the last four years has centred on ESA and the WCA, investigating the multiple flaws in the WCA and examining how other countries assess incapacity benefits.

The survey has been designed so that people with long-term illnesses and/or disabilities can contribute their views on key issues: what affects their ability to find and keep work, what support they need and what a proper assessment process should look like.

Survey results will be analysed and written up into a report that will present a full alternative to ESA and the WCA, based on what people have said in their responses. Respondents can be assured that the presented alternative will be based on the majority of views given in response to the survey by people directly impacted, and not on the views of any one individual, organisation or grassroots group.

The survey is quite long, so do feel free to download the Word (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/sites/ekklesia.co.uk/files/esa_questionnaire.doc) or PDF (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/sites/ekklesia.co.uk/files/esa_questionnaire.pdf) versions to view it before using the online survey tool: http://tinyurl.com/wcasurvey. You can also save the survey and come back to it later, by selecting the ‘submit form’ button and saving the link you are given to edit your responses.

If you find using the online tool difficult, you are welcome to complete the form on paper and then either post or email it to: Ekklesia, 235 Bloomsbury Street, London, WC2H 8EP. Or write to ekklesiasurvey@gmail.com.

Some of the questions may seem controversial or worrying to some people. Please be reassured that they are there to generate a complete picture, and should not be taken as support for the current benefit system, ESA, conditionality or any reforms proposed by the government.

This survey is completely anonymous. If you wish to withdraw from the survey at a later date, it will only be possible to do so up until the publication of the final report. To withdraw, you will need to enter a unique identifier at the end of the survey and use this identifier to email ekklesiasurvey@gmail.com with your request to withdraw.

Who should take part in this survey? Anyone with a long-term physical or mental health condition can take part in this survey. You can be in work or out-of-work, receiving ESA or not, on other benefits or no benefits at all.

Remember: you only need to answer the questions you want to answer.

You are welcome to use the Word copy of the survey if you find the online tool difficult. To do this, you can download the Word copy and either post or email your response. The postal address is Ekklesia, 235 Bloomsbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8EP; and the email address is ekklesiasurvey@gmail.com

The survey results are completely anonymous. If you wish, you can enter a unique identifier at the end of the survey in order to enable you to withdraw at a later date should you want to do so. The unique identifier can be anything you like and does not have to be something personal. Any personal information such as your name or email will not be used to contact you. If you choose to give your name, it will not be released in any way or associated with your response.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.