The front page of the i newspaper reports that “Sick and disabled benefits stopped for missing appointments”. It’s not exactly news – the trend has been growing over a period of several months, and yesterday the BBC commented about the ‘shocking’ increase in sanctions – but it’s welcome that the media seem to be waking up to what’s going on.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been helping the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations prepare their response to the Fifth Independent Review of ESA and the Work Capacity Assessment. It’s a dispiriting exercise, and the title explains why: the fact that it’s taken four previous reviews to get to where we are offers little hope that a fifth exercise will make things any better. (The SFHA response is available here.)
If anything, things are getting worse. The accumulation of misjudgment, mismanagement, delay and the accumulation of unheard appeals adds to the general sense of chaos. There are particular problems with decisions that people are fit for work when they’re not, and for people who are expected to engage in work related activity when they’re clearly unfit. Bad decisions tend, unfortunately, to lead to sanctions, as people fail to comply with rules that they have little or no hope of being able to comply with.