The Benefit System, Welfare to Work, Work Capability Assessment

– Deserving and undeserving poor

“Harassing and bad-mouthing powerless people, degrades us all” writes Peter Beresford


This week as the Welfare Reform Bill is being debated in the House of Lords, Peter Beresford for the Guardian writes how the coalition government is echoing Victorian prejudices about the “underserving poor” through its attitude towards benefit claimants.

“For the first time, the government seems to be treating everyone on benefits as “undeserving” – unless and until they can convince a draconian assessment system otherwise”.

Beresford provides a case-study of a woman called Irene, diagnosed with cancer who had received Employment and Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance under the special rules for someone who is terminally ill. However, he describes how she mistakenly received a “limited capability for work” questionnaire from the DWP which resulted in a face to face assessment by ATOS and ultimately being deemed capable for work. Luckily for Irene, she had a social worker who was in the know who was able to appeal and have the ESA rightly reinstated.


Drawing on this case study, Beresford explains how this shows that staff did not know how to operate the procedure correctly and points to how Irene’s positive outcome was based on her social worker and that this is troubling with the number of social workers diminishing.

Beresford describes how “cross-party enthusiasm for harassing people on benefits has mushroomed in recent years” and powerfully concludes that this degrades everybody.

Click here for the full article

Website: The Guardian

Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

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