When it’s their word against yours, medical evidence is what proves you’re not the one lying. Medical evidence is what says that you are in pain, or you are blind, or you are mentally ill. It’s what confirms that you aren’t making things up or exaggerating. It’s what tells the decision maker to believe your evidence over what the Atos assessor said, or simply to believe your evidence at all.
A new disability benefit should reflect the policy intent that the important factor is not the medical condition but the effect that it has on people's care and mobility needs.
It is not necessary to have medical practitioners make the decision or involved in the assessment process. As the important factor is the disability, not the medical condition, it is not necessary that the decision maker have detailed knowledge of the medical condition. The essence of the approach at all levels is that, in many cases, it is not highly technical or difficult medical judgments that need to be made—it is, above all, judgments about the effect that a condition has on a person's life. Knowledge of the disability, regardless of the underlying medical reason, is what is needed. By making administrative adjudication officers the decision makers, it is possible to reduce the medical input, reflecting the policy intention of moving away from focus on the medical condition.
It’s been a pretty depressing day.
Disabled people have fought for change after change to the government’s cuts and austerity measures. We’ve won the support of Lords and Ladies and Labour MPs. We’ve even won the support of some Liberal Democrats too. We’ve presented research and reports, presented data and evidence, campaigned and gone on protest marches. Again and again we’ve told the government and the opposition and peers and journalists why what the government is doing is wrong. We’ve said what the impacts will be and the costs they will bring. We’ve even given recommendations on how things could be done better.
But for many, today feels like one hit too far.
A judge has ruled that the Bedroom Tax does discriminate against disabled people, but that it is legal.
Discrimination is legal where it is considered to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
The judge's ruling depends on it not being possible to identify which disabled people require an extra room, and on the Bedroom Tax being a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. But all of these conclusions are questionable, which means that to deem the Bedroom Tax as lawful for disabled people is also questionable.
What happened to ESA?
The government has happily been telling us that more people are being assigned to the Support Group – this has gone up from 6% to 30% - and that this shows that ESA is working better.
On the other hand, appeal success rate has moved up from 38% to 42%.
And on Monday – when the country was largely distracted by the birth of a future king – the DWP quietly slipped out the news that Atos assessments were failing to reach the required standard in 41% of their reports.