Leeds & West Yorkshire

Bradford Council scrutinises disability tests in city

The impact of the government's disability assessment process on applicants in Bradford is to be investigated by the local authority.

Bradford Council has said it considers the tests "discriminatory" assessments on vulnerable people in the city.

Disability benefit claimants now have to undergo a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) to review their condition.

The government said it had improved the assessment process since 2010.

The tests are carried out by the healthcare firm, Atos, on behalf of the government's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Claimants' backgrounds

A resolution passed by the council said it noted the concerns of people and organisations who considered the process "fundamentally flawed, dehumanising, stressful and humiliating".

They include disability rights organisations, campaigners, academics, healthcare professionals and a range of politicians.

Bradford Council said it had noted: "The discriminatory impact on people with fluctuating conditions where they will currently be judged on whether they can undertake activities on the 'majority of day', or 'over 50% of the time.'"

A council committee will now begin an investigation into the effects across the city of the WCAs.

This will include finding out how many people in the area have taken, or are due to take, the tests. It will also explore what advice and support there is available to claimants, including legal advice.

It is expected to submit its report in the early part of 2014.

In a statement, the DWP said: "A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough assessment and after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence provided by the claimant.

"Through a series of independent reviews and by working with medical experts and charities, we have considerably improved the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) process since 2010.

"The percentage of people entitled to Employment and Support Allowance is now at its highest level with over half of people completing a WCA eligible for the benefit, but everyone has the right to appeal a decision if they disagree with it."

The statement added that "only 15%" of all fit for work decisions are overturned on appeal.

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