‘Are benefits assessments working?’ Er...no!
Sometimes, you’re asked what appears to be a simple question and yet you’re unable to provide a simple answer.
If you ask brain injury survivors whether they feel welfare benefits assessments are working (and we do), most will provide you with a resounding one-word response: NO!
Many others will garnish their answer with justifiable (but unprintable) embellishments!
For years we have been talking about failings in the processes for assessing people for welfare benefits such as ESA and PIP. Numerous consultations have come and gone; multiple reports have been published and reviews conducted; and repeatedly Headway has called for changes that would put a stop to the unfair practices that seem to discriminate against those with hidden or fluctuating conditions.
Despite all this, people living with the long-term effects of brain injury are still telling us that they are being unfairly denied access to the vital benefits that they need in order to live independent lives.
More than 550 people have completed our most recent survey, which remains open in order that we can continue to collate evidence. They told us all about the problems they are facing, saying things like: ‘...it is difficult to explain brain injury on the application forms’, ‘...assessors do not understand the complexities of brain injury’, and ‘...medical evidence is not taken into account’.
These survey responses have been used to form the basis of Headway’s evidence to the latest review of ESA and PIP assessments.
Some might feel a sense of déjà vu at yet another review. But we’re optimistic as this is an inquiry being conducted by the Work and Pensions Committee – a cross-party body that oversees and scrutinises the work of the Department for Work and Pensions. Its recommendations carry weight and can influence change.
We have presented strong evidence to the committee, clearly demonstrating the need for urgent improvements to be made.
Perhaps not every question has a simple answer. In this case, a powerful and hopefully persuasive one will have to do!
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