The Work Capacity Assessment (WCA) for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) has been controversial to many people, and there has been plenty of calls for it to be scrapped. I am therefore somewhat bemused by the mute response to the government's commitment to do just that in the spending review.
Despite what many believe I have said, I have never said WCA was a good thing, especially in the long term. However, what I have said is that I opposed the assumptions activists and others have made about who should be automatically labelled unfit for work based on meaningless labels.
There is a line in many people's heads between dysabled people who are fit for society as meaningful citizens, and those unfit for society who should simply be paid to sit at home and do nothing in the name of their human rights. While no one would dare say it to my face, I know if most activists saw me in the street and did not know who I was, they would put me in the later category solely based on my appearance.
No activist is willing to formally say which label based impairments they will put in the later category but my guess is by the time they stopped feeling sorry for everyone, very few dysabled people would be considered able to work. And once you been labelled unfit for work, and therefore society, by your so-called peers, there is no coming back.
In a shrinking economy no amount of socialism banter will fix, leaving the majority of dysabled people on benefits doing nothing at the increasing expense of taxpayers, the compassion argument will soon go sour. If community engagement and participation is off the table, as left wing activists demand, decisions will be made about resources and they will not be pretty. We could see a return to Victorian style 1000 bed institutions to keep the cost down, warehousing the growing numbers of socially unwanted. Worse still, we could see a 'humane' eugenics programme being given public support, to let those who clearly live unbearable lives go, like myself. Assisted suicide is stage one to this outcome.
When most people talk about reforming WCA, they mean writing off more dysabled people as unfit for work. No replacement to the test would work because the problem is not the test, but dysabled people's and the public's attitudes towards dysabled people's ability to make a meaningful contribution.
Asking dysabled people to write the test as a piece of democracy, as 'we are the experts', would be a nightmare. The people going through the WCA system, something I have not done, are new to their impairments and often have a negative attitude towards themselves which they want to test to validate. Since the test is not and can not be designed to do this, the conflict of expectations is the source of stress, anger, distressed, depression and so on.
The NHS is still very negative about what patients can achieve, creating a negative mindset in dysabled people and a belief they have a right to be regarded as unfit for work regardless of the facts to please the emotions of themselves and their families. Rather than helping people understand their emotional journey, left wing activists have abused their vulnerability as claimants for their own anti-cuts agendas.
It is a mess not because of how WCA is designed, but how it has ignited public bigotry towards dysabled people, masked as compassion and a fight for human rights. Too many activists deep down do not want us to work, and simply find reasons to justify their stance, blaming everyone but themselves. Many of them would desire a system where you can simply get your GP to sign you off as indefinitely unfit, with no way back from being excluded from society. But like many Jed supporters, they think money also grows on trees!
Before the government designs a new test, something I will get involved in, it needs to understand the deep rooted bigotry that the reactions to WCA has uncovered since this stops many sick and dysabled people from being included in society.