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Assessing the Assessors

Authors: Rick Burgess, Simon Duffy, Nick Dilworth, Jane Bence, Wayne Blackburn and Mark Thomas

The assessment of disabled people for the Employment Support Allowance has been a national scandal. Much of the focus has been on the private healthcare firm, Atos, who have administered the DWP's assessment. But the real problem is the culture of contempt which is at the very heart of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) itself.

This report is based on 884 respondents to an online questionnaire which asked people who were sick or disabled to assess the assessors - to describe how they were treated in the assessment process and what impact the assessment had on their lives.

The statistics are bleak, for instance:

  • 95% found the assessment damaged their health, 29% severely
  • 95% gave the assessment a mark of 5 out 10 or less, 43% gave it the lowest possible mark
  • 80% of the time the respondent felt the assessor did not listen to them

Even more bleak are the moving stories and comments left by the respondents, for example:

  • "The process was terrifying, humiliating and degrading..."
  • "Tragically, my friend has committed suicide since losing her appeal."
  • "It was the second worst experience of my life after my severe accident."

This report was developed independently, with no funding or subsidy, but with support from Mark Thomas and the team of disabled people who are now established as New Approach and who will setting out alternatives to the WCA over the coming months.

The data used in this report is also available online at: http://bit.ly/wcasurveydata


The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform in association with New Approach and the Campaign for a Fair Society.

Assessing the Assessors © Rick Burgess, Simon Duffy, Nick Dilworth, Jane Bence, Wayne Blackburn and Mark Thomas 2014.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.

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