A major report issued today by Citizens Advice in England and Wales highlights a number of concerns about the Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
Though it is based entirely on evidence collected by the CAB movement south of the border, the issues it identifies are relevant to Scottish claimants too – according to Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), who are currently putting together a detailed report of their own.
In a statement, CAS Chief Executive Ms Kaliani Lyle said,
“Today’s report on the operation of the ESA in England and Wales does not include any evidence collected in Scotland, because we are putting together our own ‘Scotland-only’ report for publication later in the year.
“However, we can say that the issues today’s report has identified, and the conclusions it has reached, are entirely applicable to Scotland as well. And our report will show this, in the Scottish context, when it is published in the summer.
“Case evidence from CABs in Scotland shows that too many sick and disabled Scots are being let down by the ESA system. It is supposed to support those in need. But instead the reality shows a catalogue of chaos which is bringing misery to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“The main issue identified by today’s report is that the assessments on which the claimants are judged does not take into account information about their medical condition, and therefore many people are being judged ‘fit for work’ when they are not anything of the kind.
“This is very much the case in Scotland too. But our report will consider other deficiencies of the ESA, such as claimants being awarded the wrong benefit entirely, cases where the advice from the Jobcentre has been contradictory and inaccurate, and cases where the system loses people’s documentation etc.
“So our report later in the year will into much greater detail about the problems of the ESA, and will outline our proposals for change in the context of the Scottish political system. In the meantime we strongly welcome the report by our colleagues south of the Border today; we confirm that it does mirror what is happening in Scotland, and we urge politicians of all parties to pledge that in the General Election campaign they will bring forward proposals to fix what is wrong with this deeply flawed system.”
For more details or to arrange interviews, please contact Tony Hutson at CAS on 0131 550 1010, or 07774 751655. We can supply interviews from CAS or from staff at local CABs in any part of Scotland.