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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Work capability issues and ESA  →  Thread

DWP scrap expert guidance on risk to vulnerable claimants with a mental function problem

Owen Stevens
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Welfare Rights Service, Greenwich Council, London

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Hello all

DWP have scrapped a version of risk guidance for WCA providers when dealing with vulnerable claimants.

I have attached the old guidance.

The new guidance can be found at p.247 here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/535065/wca-handbook-july-2016.pdf

For background on the introduction of the old guidance see:
http://www.rightsnet.org.uk/welfare-rights/news/item/substantial-risk-to-health-arising-from-being-found-capable-of-work-or-work

THe old guidance contains a note saying that it was developed with external input from “Professor Peter White, Consultant Psychiatrist, Barts Hospital, London and Professor Keith Hawton, Director, Centre for Suicide Research, University Department of Psychiatry, Oxford”.

The new guidance does not appear to have been developed with input from experts, certainly I could not find any mention of this is the guidance document.  The author is listed as
“Author: Medical Learning and Development
Owner and approver: DWP”.

The new guidance seems to remove the focus from substantial risk specifically for claimants with a mental function problem to simply providing guidance on substantial risk regulations.

The biggest impact is that (in an echo of DWP changes to vulnerability guidance to focus it on ‘life circumstances’ rather than specific conditions) it removes any substantial guidance (p203/204 of the old guidance) on the situations in which an assessor should recommend LCWRA and leaves these decision to the discretion of the assessor, who may or may not be a highly trained and conscientious medical professional. 

* edit to include a hat tip to todays Benefits and Work email for the news on the updated WCA guidance document

[ Edited: 13 Jul 2016 at 09:52 am by Owen Stevens ]

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Owen Stevens
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Welfare Rights Service, Greenwich Council, London

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Total Posts: 211

Joined: 8 August 2012

BC Welfare Rights
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The Brunswick Centre, Kirklees & Calderdale

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Ben Baumberg has also written about this here https://www.rethinkingincapacity.org/return-stricter-wca/ with a link through to a comparison of the old and new guidance https://www.rethinkingincapacity.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/WCA-Handbooks-revisions-2016-vs-2015.pdf

And Ken Butler has also written about it in the latest Disability Rights newsletter http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2016/september/dramatic-fall-numbers-placed-esa-support-group

Quite alarming reading.

Owen Stevens
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Welfare Rights Service, Greenwich Council, London

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Thanks for posting those Billy.  I’ve only had a very quick look at the comparison document above but I’m not sure that it compares the old/new appendix 6 which I think is the most interesting change.  The old appendix 6 (download above) gave very clear indications of when assessors should recommend LCWRA, the new guidance does not.

My understanding was that the old guidance was introduced in response to concerns about deaths some people had linked to the WCA.  It seems only to have lasted for about a year.

Owen Stevens
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Welfare Rights Service, Greenwich Council, London

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Total Posts: 211

Joined: 8 August 2012

Owen Stevens
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Welfare Rights Service, Greenwich Council, London

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Total Posts: 211

Joined: 8 August 2012

http://www.rightsnet.org.uk/welfare-rights/news/item/number-of-esa-claimants-placed-in-support-group-on-initial-assessment-conti

DWP seem to agree that their rewrite of appendix 6 has had a big impact on Support Group decisions.  Old appendix 6 can be downloaded above

Owen Stevens
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Welfare Rights Service, Greenwich Council, London

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