After the Work Capability Assessment - what next?

By Bernadette Meaden
September 30, 2015

The Work Capability Assessment is indefensible. It needs to be scrapped. The full extent of the distress and damage it has caused may never be fully known, but all who understand, or who have not got a blindly ideological commitment to it, now say it needs to be stopped.

But what happens then? Many people would like a system in which, if your GP or consultant says you are unfit to work that is the end of the matter. But in an NHS creaking at the seams, with doctors under ever increasing pressure, this is not a role some doctors wish to assume. They don't want to be the arbiters of who gets benefits and who doesn't.

Even some of the most sympathetic politicians, those who agree with us that the WCA has been a disaster, may say they need an alternative system to put in its place. The big danger then is that they employ 'experts' who have no real experience of living with chronic illness or disability to design a system which may prove to be little better.

So if the WCA is to be scrapped, we need to be ready, with the views and ideas of the people who will be affected, to influence whatever happens next. That is why Ekklesia has commissioned Stef Benstead, a disabled researcher, to gather the opinions of ill and disabled people on this massively important subject.

Ekklesia believes that in an ideal world we would have a basic income: an income paid to all citizens unconditionally, on which they can live decently, and then choose to work or not work as they wish. This is what we would like to see, and what we will campaign for. But, realistically, it is a long term aim. Until we can bring that about, we need the views of disabled and ill people to be taken into account in any decisions that are made about benefits.

That is why we would like as many people as possible to contribute to our project. We understand that for some people, filling in a survey on this subject could bring back traumatic memories of their WCA. If that is the case for you, please let us know your views by email. The last thing we want is to cause anybody any further distress.

This project does not seek to construct 'a replacement WCA'. It seeks to get the views of the real experts, to influence a future without the appalling WCA. So please, let us know what you think. All views are welcome, and if you 'think outside the box' so much the better!

You can take the survey here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/22113 There is no need to answer all the questions, just those that you want to answer. And if you prefer to email us your views, email ekklesiasurvey@gmail.com

A future without the WCA now seems possible. Let us make sure that we are involved in shaping that future.

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© Bernadette Meaden has written about political, religious and social issues for some years, and is strongly influenced by Christian Socialism, liberation theology and the Catholic Worker movement. She is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor. You can follow her on Twitter: @BernaMeaden

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.