DWP is ‘disallowing’ verdicts after ‘strict’ fit to work tests

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A doctor has spelled out what it is like judging people claiming for DWP benefits under a 'strict' regime - including having verdicts 'disallowed'. Dr Giles Youngs, who stopped practicing but continued to work as a part-time medical examiner for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has revealed what it was like picking people as fit to work.

In England and Wales, you will have a Work Capability Assessment if you claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit and you have a condition that affects your ability to work. Dr Youngs, who would assess claimants’ fitness for work, admitted he "would not dream of employing" some of those chosen as fit.

In a letter to The Guardian, he said he welcomed the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s decision to investigate “fit for work” tests. Revealing what it was like examining people he admitted "I did not find it easy to decide if someone was unfit of work and thus eligible for benefits".

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He added: "During a 40-minute interview I would ask the person about their ability to perform routine tasks such as walking, climbing stairs, cooking and shopping. The physical examination tested mobility, hearing and eyesight.

"The scoring system was strict, and quite a few of my reports that recorded a significant disability were returned by the head medical adviser disallowing my decision. The assessment of significant mental ill health was even more difficult and subjective.

"Many times my decision was that the person was fit for work on DWP criteria, but privately I would not dream of employing them myself."

BirminghamLive has previously reported how the equalities watchdog is investigating the DWP over treatment of disabled people on benefits. It "suspects" the DWP "may have broken equality law" when assessing benefit claimants, as well as in its day-to-day operations.

But the DWP has issued a strong statement in response to the announcement. A DWP spokesperson said: “The government is committed to improving the lives of disabled people and our recent disability action plan sets out 32 actions we are taking to make the UK the most accessible country in the world for disabled people to live, work and thrive.

“The DWP is committed to providing a compassionate service to all our customers. Benefits assessments are carried out by qualified health professionals with reasonable adjustments available to protect vulnerable claimants."