The share of Fit for Work decisions being overturned on appeal is at its highest ever level, figures released by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) reveal.
Successful appeals against decisions made during April to June last year hit 53 per cent – up two per cent on the previous three months.
The DWP point out that while the share of successful appeals is on the rise, the number of people appealing a decision has dropped significantly.
Mencap’s Head of Campaigns Rossanna Trudgian argued today’s figures show the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is failing the people it is designed to support.
She said: “The fact that 53 per cent of Fit for Work decisions are being overturned following an appeal is deeply concerning and further evidence of how the WCA is in need of a 'fundamental redesign', as acknowledged by a previous Select Committee Report.
“We hear from many people with a learning disability who during the WCA are asked questions they don’t understand and aren’t offered the support they need to answer questions correctly. Wrong decisions are disturbingly commonplace and the percentage is showing no sign of improving – causing fear and anxiety amongst people with a learning disability.”
The WCA is designed to determine whether someone who is out of work is entitled to claim Employment Support Allowance.
It separates people into those who are unable to work because of health related issues, those who could return to some form of work with support or those who could return to work as soon as possible.
Introduced by Labour in 2008, the WCA program was pushed forward by Tory Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith when he came to office in 2010.
In the final quarter on 2008, 40 per cent of those who appealed against a Fit for Work decision had it overturned.
Today's figures show that since the period of July to September 2013, more appeals have been successful than failed.
In the report, the DWP claims “caution should be applied before drawing conclusions from the more recent periods.”
The report says: "The number of appeals has been decreasing and the percentages for the quarter April to June 2014 are for 1,300 Fit for Work decisions with a completed appeal. This compares to 5,000 Fit for Work decisions a year earlier in the quarter April to June 2013.
"In addition, the proportions for more recent months are likely to change when the outcomes of appeals still to be heard are included.”
Last month it was revealed 2,650 people died within six weeks of being found Fit for Work, including 1,360 who had lost an appeal against the decision.