Kathy’s confrontation highlights the flawed way we allocate benefits and assess whether people with disabilities are fit-for-work.
This month Kathy Mohan told the prime minister she has been forced to live on £100 a month in benefits after being denied help with the extra costs of coping with a learning disability.
“I’m talking about everybody who’s got mental health and learning disabilities,” Mohan said. “I want them not to have their money taken away from them and being crippled. The fat cats keep all the money and us lot get nothing.”
The issue goes deeper than the Conservatives’ controversial switch from the disability living allowance to personal independence payment (PIP). People with mental health and learning disabilities are also being failed by the manner in which they are assessed for welfare: fit-to-work tests.
Since they were introduced, 2,380 people have died within two weeks (pdf) of being found fit for work, and an extra 1,340 have died within two weeks of appealing a fit-for-work decision. In October ministers promised to overhaul the assessments as part of proposals aimed to help disabled people find employment.
But since then nothing has changed. Inaccurate assessments are still rife: between 2013-15, 56% of work capability assessment (WCA) appeals were successful. In November 2016, a UN report judged that the UK’s welfare reforms amounted to “grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights”. It said WCAs were particularly ineffective for people with intellectual and psychological disabilities. So why are fit-for-work assessments not fit for purpose?