CAS has submitted evidence about the experiences of Scottish bureaux clients claiming Employment and Support Allowance and undergoing the Work Capability Assessment to the House of Commons Select Committee on Work and Pensions.
ESA benefit is now the biggest single issue in bureaux and continues to increase year on year. Much of this work consists of appeals following Work Capability Assessments.
The response highlights particular issues we are seeing in bureaux at present, including:
- indefinite delays in accessing the Work Capability Assessment
- the new process of mandatory reconsideration prior to appeal is in some cases taking considerable amounts of time. Claimants cannot get ESA while a decision is being reconsidered and this is causing many people problems
- the number of sanctions for people claiming ESA is worrying
- problems with medical evidence, including loss of medical forms and clients who cannot access the medical evidence they need to support their claim from their doctor
- other administrative problems
- what happens to someone if they are refused ESA, including if they then have to claim Jobseekers Allowance
The response also discusses lessons to be learnt for when the medical assessment contract is retendered, following Atos' decision to end the contract early. It makes a series of recommendations to improve the situation.