Friday 13 December 2013

But I'm Here for Mental Health

Tyneside Mind have produced a powerful new film about the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) which forms an integral part of the Employment Support Allowance claim process. In the film, actors depict the experiences of people who are supported by Tyneside Mind and have been through the WCA. Bloggers have been asked to publicise this ten minute video and I am pleased to be able to run it here.

Let's be honest, it is tough passing the WCA if you are of sound mind and fucked body like me, but if you have mental problems then it must seem as if the whole system is geared to do you over.

I don't think that is intentional, but it is an obvious by-product of the box-ticking exercise that the last Labour government introduced when they brought in this system and then paid the French company Atos to run it for them. The Tories are merely encouraging Atos to sail closer to the wind with their rejections of claims, but the flaw was inherent in Labour's wheeze.

What they wanted was a cheap and cheerful system that could separate the halt and the lame from the able-bodied. The ESA 50 form which all claimants have to fill in as part of their EA claim and the WCA which most of us have to go through aimed at putting people into one of three categories. The Support Group for people who are not expected to improve. The Work Related Activity Group for those who are expected to recover their health and go back to work, and the people who fail the tests and are declared fit for work immediately.

The problem is that people who have physical ailments can be slotted very neatly into one of the categories, but that is not the case with mental illness as the video shows. Just watch it and weep.

What is to be done? Getting the Tories out of office is an obvious start, because Tories are scum who should never be allowed anywhere near the levers of power, anyway. How to ensure that Labour, the party who introduced all this in the first place, do not simply carry on where the Tories left off is another matter and one that I do not have an answer for..

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