I like to give credit where it’s due on this blog. With this government I don’t get many chances to do it, but today I’ve been listening to the Commons Work Capability Assessment (WCA) debate, and there’s one example I’d like to highlight.
Jeremy Lefroy, Conservative MP for Stafford, stood to speak on the issue and clearly has a heart for disabled people who are being hounded via the WCA process. Mr Lefroy argued:
- against constant reassessment of people who have conditions that are unlikely ever to improve
- against the idiocy of a system that classifies a person as fit for work on the basis of being able to lift and move an empty cardboard box once, without regard for the fact that very few employers want people to move empty boxes, that ignores the difficulties of getting to work in the first place and without regard for the fact that being able to do something once doesn’t mean you can do so repeatedly
- against the massive hole in the system when it comes to assessing people with fluctuating conditions, who might be relatively well on the day of assessment and much worse the next
- for including details of appeal cases that find that WCA assessments were clearly wrong and unreasonable in reports on appeals
- against the common situation of appeals taking so long that as soon as they’re decided in favour of a claimant, he or she is then immediately considered due for assessment again
Mr Lefroy also, apparently, visits in person each constituent who has had difficulty with Atos and the appeals process – and vouched personally for the fact that many WCA judgments are clearly ludicrous compared to the daily reality of life for those assessed. And unlike other Tory contributors, he didn’t use this as mere lipservice leading in to a defence of the programme of assessment or an attack on the previous Labour government for supposedly ‘consigning disabled people to the scrapheap’ or similar.
I salute Mr Lefroy for a compassionate and well-reasoned contribution to the debate.
Of course, the fact that he stands out like a bright, white tooth in a mouthful of decay only draws more attention to the rotten state of the Tory-led government – and begs the question of why he’s still representing the party of baby-eaters, disabled-bashers and NHS-strippers.
But credit where it’s due – and I just hope he shows as much sense and heart on the many other nonsenses and prejudices of his party.