The Work Capability Assessment fit-for-work test (WCA) is ignorant of the challenges, barriers and health problems faced by homeless people and treats homeless people inhumanely, says Crisis.Addressing the charity’s annual conference today, Chief Executive Leslie Morphy made these criticisms in response to new research findings. Single homeless people’s experiences of the Work Capability Assessmentfound that an overwhelming 97% of almost 200 homeless and vulnerably housed respondents said they felt “stressed, anxious and worried that their claim would be turned down”. The majority of respondents, 65%, suffered from multiple health conditions.
Homelessness is a significant issue, yet currently invisible within the assessments. Half of respondents felt that the healthcare professional assessing them had a “poor awareness of the impact homelessness had on their lives.” And a similar number thought that the person conducting the assessment had a poor understanding of the complexity of their health issues, individual circumstances and needs.
Leslie Morphy said: “Our findings are clear. The Work Capability Assessment is an inhumane ordeal for someone who is already dealing with the horrors of homelessness and the attendant difficulties that brings. Homeless people are facing stressful and traumatic interviews from assessors who are compelled to carry out a process that ignores the fact that homelessness has a massive effect on individual’s health and fitness for work.”
Lack of faith in the system was underlined by the fact that 40% of those surveyed thought the assessor simply did not believe them and 76% of respondents reported they had appealed the decision. Nationally, £50 million a year is spent on the WCA appeals process, with 40% being found in favour of the client.
The research revealed that outcomes varied greatly on whether the claimants were accompanied to the medical assessments: 86% of those unaccompanied were deemed not to have ‘limited capacity for work’, whereas the figure for those accompanied was 39%. Having someone accompany the claimant to lend moral support, provide further information or clarification clearly helped in ensuring the assessor got a clearer and more accurate picture of their conditions during the assessment.
Source: Crisis press release
3rd May 2012