The Benefit System, Welfare to Work, Work Capability Assessment

– House of Commons debate on Work Programme

Maria Miller MP, Minister for Disabled People, faced questions on changes to disability living allowance, which will see the end of the £49.85-a-week mobility component for working-age people in residential care.

Controversially, the plans to halt mobility payments were not subject any public consultation, a point that Frank Roy MP suggested Ms. Millet may face problems answering when confronted by her disabled constituents.

Ms. Miller however stressed that schemes such as Work Choice and Access to Work provide alternative financial assistance to disabled people.

Following the publication of DWP’s White Paper on welfare reform, ministers have repeated the importance of moving away from a one size fits all benefits system to a personalised system of government support. Ms. Miller also stated that the DWP has been working with the Department for Health to improve social care. The expertise and good work of disability focussed organisations such as the Shaw Trust were hailed as examples of local user groups that have succeeded.
MPs, including Tracey Crouch, raised concerns over the current work capability assessment which has been criticised for not taking into account the fluctuating symptoms of mental illness. Professor Harrington’s report on improving the current work capability assessment will be published tomorrow and Chris Grayling has called for both sides of the House to consult on Professor Harrington’s findings, and reach consensus on the best steps forward. Mr. Grayling stated that a new assessment was of:

“Paramount importance…we must continue to review issues and make further improvements as when necessary”.

His colleague Ms. Miller concurred:
“We need an assessment that identifies people’s real need for support”.
Professor Harrington has compiled his report following consultations with specialist organisations, such as Mind, that have experience and expertise in supporting and empowering disabled people. Mind’s Chief Executive, Paul Farmer was cited as an integral contributor to the discussions regarding the new assessment. Mr. Grayling is also working closely with the Ministry of Justice to ensure work capability assessment tribunals operate with greater efficiency and expediency.

Volunteering will have a higher profile under the Work Programme than it did in the Flexible New Deal. Volunteer positions will be used as another vehicle to help people gain the skills and confidence to obtain sustainable employment.

The Secretary of State, Iain Duncan-Smith closed by declaring:
“Employment growth is at the heart of all we do…This is the most comprehensive work programme since the war”.

Website: Parliament UK (TV) Here

Kuki Taylor

Project Support Officer

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