24 August 2011
Professor Malcolm Harrington, who is undertaking the independent Work Capability Assessment review has written to Action for M.E. and others who attended his recent meeting, saying he is disappointed that some people are not yet seeing improvements in welfare benefits assessments and urging patience.
His letter says:
“My take on things is that [the Department for Work and Pensions] DWP and [Jobcentre Plus] JCP (in collaboration with Atos where appropriate) are energetically implementing all of my recommendations. Some are complete while others are in progress, the timescales of doing this are different for IB reassessment and new ESA claims.
“In some cases I believe the JCP staff responsible have actually improved on what I had proposed in light of practical experience. I see real progress and am even more confident of improvements than I was in my interim report to the Minister in May.
“In addition, genuine advances are being made on the suggested changes to the descriptors as part of my Year 2 review.
“To those of you who continue to see no progress, I urge you to be patient. Things are happening and you will see real changes to the fairness and effectiveness of the WCA in the near future even if it takes a while for things to change in a uniform way across the country.”
He went on to stress the importance of charities providing new evidence, not just people’s stories.
“As you will be aware,” he writes, “one of the things I am keen to do through this call for evidence is to collect robust evidence about what is and isn’t working, moving, where possible, away from anecdotal reports.
“If over time you do not believe that appropriate progress is being made this is another area where robust evidence will help me in making my review as thorough as possible.”