We have read much in the last few days about how the benefits system, is about to undergo a radical overhaul. What we are just starting to hear about though is the poor way in which this overhaul will be delivered.
The last government (yes Labour people, that is you) started to look at disability living allowance (DLA) and made the system, "tougher" on people. This toughness though was done on the cheap, with non medically trained people doing one hour assessments on people on DLA to ascertain whether they were entitled to continue claiming DLA. Quite how a non medically trained individual can make an assessment on someone's mental health by following a tick box approach to checking claims it beyond me.
On Radio 5 this morning they were discussing this issue, and focussing in heavily on Burnley, an area that will be targeted by the government to see how many people can be got off benefits and back in to work.
The fact that Burnley is something of a unemployment blackspot and is hardly fertile ground for a jobseeker at the moment is by the by for the government. So focusing in on Burnley they reported that of those people being denied DLA and other similar benefits after a one hour interview, hundreds were appealing their decisions, with 85% of people winning their appeals. Apparently there is a backlog of over 300 people awaiting their appeal to be heard.
According to Radio 5, the appeals involve seeing a proper doctor, with a full and appropriate examination, followed by proper questioning and a removal of the tick box approach to checking the claimant. One caller said the initial one hour interview had seen her score just three points, well short of the fifteen required to claim the allowance she was one. When she went to an appeal, she scored nineteen points !
My question is, surely we have a Social Security Minister who can do something about this issue ? How on earth can we have a system where 85% of people who appeal have been wrongly labelled as fit for work when they are clearly not. How can we have a system where non medically trained people are making medical judgements on the health of individuals ? In short, where is the Lib Dem influence that Nick Clegg and other lovers of the coalition keep going on about, because if this is happening and we are supporting it, then nobody should be proud of the coalition.