The Work Capability Assessment (WCA), introduced by New Labour, has led to thousands of people losing a minimum of £25 per week as they fail to qualify for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). They have been placed on Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) and told to look for work.
The Unemployed Workers’ Centres and Scottish Poverty Alliance have gathered numerous shocking case studies to attract the National Media. The worst of these have been where claimants have died, family citing the pressure placed on them by the system: WCA Medicals, long waiting periods for Appeals against official decisions and the further harassment of more medicals even when the appellant has convinced a tribunal that they are sufficiently incapable of work.
In much of our work, it is difficult to persuade people experiencing poverty to come forward and receive media exposure in order to help develop a campaign. The injustice and anger generated by this policy, aimed at slashing the benefits bill, has meant that campaigns have been able to wage a high profile media campaign, for once breaking into the tabloids as well as the ‘quality press’.
With the proposed migration of over 1 ½ million people on to this new benefit, the problems for claimants and the campaign will move to a higher level. Watch this space!