Our latest blog post is by Peter Hopkins who won Shropshire’s “Pride of Shropshire Carers Award in 2011 and has a strong interest in Aspergers while being well aware of the shortcomings on the WCA process.
My name is Peter Hopkins and my main area of interest is Autism. On 17th January, over a few allocated jobs, I watched most of the House of Commons Work Capability Assessment debate.
The debate was well attended by probably 40 MPs, a good turnout (didn’t notice anyShropshireor Telford MPs (perhaps no surprise). I have sent them a copy of this report for their information and comments if they have any. Probably 30 labour MPs and 10 or more Coalition in and out of the chamber.
Michael Meacher MP gave an excellent and passionate overview of the problem areas followed by Cheryl Gillam MP who gave a reasonable account for Autism emphasising the need for trained advocates throughout the process. Then 30 MPs were given the opportunity to speak for 5 minutes, they detailed problems as reported from their constituencies also highlighting the many areas where the process is flawed, the MPs appear to have good specialist knowledge of these flawed areas.
The debate was excellent and passionate, reflecting what we are telling our MPs, covering almost all the points covered in my email sent prior to the debate to our Shropshire and Telford MPs and a lot more. Many examples of horrendous treatment of our vulnerable people were described across many disabilities, long term and variable conditions: Autism, mental health, sensory impairment, and cancer etc. Reaction across the house to the MPs’ stories was shock, horror and disbelief at this massively unfair treatment of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
I would say the conclusion of the debate was very similar to mine: these DWP led ATOS assessments must be STOPPED now until they are fit for purpose or the process preferably redrafted, which, I suspect, would be a long time coming.
Unfortunately the 2 hour informed debate was followed by the 15 minute DWP Minister’s statement which was unbelievable! The statement did not reflect any of the previous discussion, and more or less said what we are all used to hearing “all is well, carry on regardless with a few minor tweaks”. This is so typical of the DWP ignoring the unanimous feelings of the caring public, ignoring the voice of the people expressed through their MPs who represent them.
In his summing Mr Meacher said that this debate was so unanimous in its disgust and condemnation of these WCAs the DWP response was totally inadequate and would have to be followed up very soon with further action.
I hope so!!!
Peter Hopkins 17th January 2013