Iain Duncan Smith's Fit For Work Test 'Actively Discriminates Against Those With Mental Health Problems

22/05/2013 14:57 | Updated 22 May 2013
  • Huffington Post UK
PA

The government's 'fit for work' test actively discriminates against those with mental health problems, a judge has ruled, in a verdict described as a "victory for thousands of people".

The Work Capability Assessment, is too difficult to navigate for those with mental illness, autism and learning difficulties, putting those with the disability at a significant disadvantage, it concluded.

The judges ruled that the DWP's process puts certain groups at a substantial disadvantage after the case was brought by two people with mental health problems, whose identities have been protected.

The Department for Work and Pensions said they disagreed with the ruling and will appeal against the decision.

The WCA tests decide whether people are entitled to Employment and Support Allowance and are carried out on behalf of the government by companies such as Atos. Other documents are submitted along with the test, such as doctors notes. Lawyers for the two said it would be difficult for people suffering from mental illness or who have autism or a learning difficulty to find supporting documents and it should be up to the government to seek additional medical evidence.

The charities Rethink Mental Illness, Mind and the National Autistic Society intervened in the case to provide evidence showing how the people they work with have found it difficult to claim.

Mind's chief executive Paul Farmer said: "The judgment is a victory, not only for the two individuals involved in this case, but for thousands of people who have experienced additional distress and anxiety because they have struggled through an assessment process which does not adequately consider the needs of people with mental health problems."

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