Response to queries about Ekklesia WCA survey

By Press Office
October 6, 2015

We have had some feedback about some potential difficulties with regards to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) survey we recently launched.

One of the issues raised was the need for a trigger warning before people embarked on the survey, as for some people a questionnaire might trigger negative memories from completing the WCA. We apologise that we didn't think of that immediately and have now rectified this.

Other concerns focussed on how the survey was designed, what comes after the WCA, and making sure any solution ensures sick and disabled people are in control. We thought it would be helpful to post further comment in response to the concerns raised.

We want to be clear that Ekklesia is committed to ending the WCA full stop as we know it is abusive and harmful. Our long term view is that the only way out of the toxic debates on welfare is to set up a system of basic income which would do away with any requirement for sick and disabled people to have to justify how ill they are in order to receive money from the state. Such a system would require additional income for sick and disabled people.

However, we believe basic income is a long way off. In the meantime politicians challenged to get rid of the WCA always respond with a counter challenge that we need to replace it with something else. We believe therefore that if sick and disabled people propose alternatives, this will help speed the demise of the existing system.

This is where the survey comes in: research to help create something new, designed by sick and disabled people that will displace the old assessment.

We commissioned the project following discussions with Stef Benstead, an independent researcher who herself has a chronic illness and claims ESA. Her research will build on the the Beyond the Barriers report we published in 2014. Stef has consulted a number of disabled people and groups with regards to the design of the survey.

We recognise that there is a wide range of views about what should replace the WCA. Some people feel a non-means tested assessment developed by sick and disabled people is the most sensible option. It is for this reason that the survey is designed to ask questions about a future test. It is assumed that such a test would be under the control of sick and disabled people and enable them to challenge it. (This is demonstrated in questions such as the one that asks whether participants would want to see and challenge an assessor’s report before a decision.)

However, we know that some people believe that self assessment is the way forward, whilst others think there should be no assessment at all. We would like to ensure the survey captures all these views, so we have the fullest picture. If this is how you feel we would invite you to respond to the survey anyway.

It maybe that this means missing out many of the questions or only answering the last one. This is perfectly acceptable and we would ask you to let us know your reasons why so we can gather that information. We would like to encourage you to 'think outside the box' - not confining yourselves to narrow views or views based on the current system. This will enable us to gain a more complete understanding of what might be needed next.

We also want to be clear that not all the suggestions in the survey are meant to be popular, they are there to get a sense of how many people agree or disagree with them. So we are very keen to have your honest views and would encourage you to use the free text response to add additional views that aren’t covered by the survey.

Finally, when filling out the survey, we’d also remind you of Inclusion London’s useful questions:

How do you want to live?
What stops you living that life?
What do you need to help you live that life?

We believe these are helpful questions to frame all of our thinking.

We hope these points will assist you in completing the survey and thank you in advance for your help.

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[Ekk/5]

Keywords:wca
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.