Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Bradford MP wants change to disability tests
A Bradford Labour MP has called for major reforms to the much-criticised guidelines for testing people on sickness benefits.
At its party conference, Labour vowed to sack the French firm blamed for bungling ‘fitness to work tests’ – branding it “a disgrace”.
But Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe said his party needed to go further, by also ripping up the guidelines for testing people on sickness benefits.
Mr Sutcliffe said people had been left fighting for “survival” after wrongly having their benefits removed following tests by Atos.
He hailed the “welcome news” that Atos would be sacked by a Labour government, a pledge made by Liam Byrne, the party’s work and pensions spokesman.
But Mr Sutcliffe said: “We must not only sack Atos, but also change the rules to give more weight to medical evidence from GPs and make appeals speedier.
“When it comes to appeals, many people are given a date that’s 18 months away, which is no good to them at all.
“They may win their appeal, but they lose their benefits in the meantime – and for many people that’s the difference between survival, or not.”
In May, it was revealed that almost 2,500 people claiming sickness benefits in Bradford had been found fit for work after taking the new test.
And, by next year, about two-thirds of the 19,000 people who were on incapacity benefit (IB) in Bradford are expected to be put through the work test.
About four in ten of appeals are successful and mistakes by Atos have been condemned by MPs for causing “considerable distress”.
However, Atos says that the Department for Work and Pensions – not the firm itself – sets the guidelines for the work capability assessment.
And Mr Byrne did not say how Labour, which introduced the assessment and first employed Atos, would change the rules used to find people ‘fit for work’.
Comments are closed on this article.