Tag Archives: hoban

Result of WCA consultations

After over 700 comments and years of passionate campaigning, this post will outline the issues I and other Spartacii intend to discuss with the Minister, Mark Hoban on Tuesday. Thank you so much. 700 comments is a credible consultation with a real mandate. There has been some discussion over whether this meeting should take place at all. However, after scouring social media last night, I saw much more support for engagement than refusing to engage. 
Many, many people go their own way in campaigning. Quietly, and secretly behind the scenes. They fear exactly the kind of backlash I’ve had this week. These meetings are happening day in and day out. You just don’t know about them. People don’t publicise them, they don’t ask what you think and they don’t involve you in the process. Spartacus will never do that. It will always be YOUR voice. Paid by no-one, beholden to no-one, influenced by no-one but you. 
This list will almost certainly cause controversy too. We have 45 minutes. There is no human way we can mention all of the vital things that are wrong with ESA and WCAs and why they need to change. It’s impossible. Every time I wrote the list, someone reminded me of something else. 
We have ALL campaigned on these issues. We ALL want them changed and we ALL agree they would make WCAs less harmful. The minister already knows all about them, MPs, journalists and campaigners have explained repeatedly. There is absolutely no reason why he should listen to Spartacus any more than he listens to anyone else. But that’s no reason not to try. 
Spartacus works for political change. We always have. From working with the Lib Dems to change their policy (incidentally, we persuaded them to vote to ABOLISH WCAs. That became Lib Dem policy) to fighting for amendments to the welfare reform bill. From lobbying parliament to compiling detailed reports and taking the government to court over PIP, they ALL attempt political change. 
It’s inevitable that occasionally, we won’t all agree. That’s fine. We don’t have to. But we do have to respect the right of anyone to campaign in any way they choose. It’s called democracy. 
So, here are the issues we’ll take forward based on YOUR recommendations and suggestions and the things that have upset you the most over the years. In some ways, they may not all be the most important (though I believe they are) but they are often issues the government have pledged to change already but have been slow to do so. Some are relatively easy for the government to implement, meaning there can be no true objection to them. Most are relatively low cost as we all know this government will refuse to spend a penny as an excuse to resist change. 
But they are all vital and if they were all implemented fully as government often pledged to do, the WCA would be a much safer and less terrifying experience. If that’s not worth fighting for, I’m afraid I fail utterly to see why. 

Please try to be a little gentle over things we may not have included.

Mandatory Reconsideration – Assessment phase payments MUST continue through MR. DWP MUST set a time limit. Sheila Gilmore has laid a lot of the groundwork for us on this so we shouldn’t need to go into as much detail. the time period for submitting a WCA MUST be set back to 6 weeks. 4 weeks is not enough to collect all the evidence we need.

-Accessible Centres – No more excuses. New centres MUST replace the 29 inaccessible centres.

-Set Min Limits on Re-assessment – 3,6 and 9 month reassessment periods are ludicrous and only slow the system down. For us AND for government.

-Mental Health Champions – In EVERY centre. They promised this but there are still only 60 – less than half of all centres, It has to happen now. Why can’t it/hasn’t it so far & what needs to be done to achieve it?

-Division Cognitive and Physical point scoring as per ESASOS A person MUST be able to score under both physical AND cognitive descriptors again. Separating them is totally unworkable.

-Recording Assessments – Every assessment, every time, just like interviews, call centres etc. This would show a real commitment to transparency and change. Again, they’ve promised, no more excuses.

-EBR (Evidence Based Review) – New descriptors NOW. 5 years is too long, Too many people have suffered. We were due an update on this months ago. Not one more person should go through a test using descriptors that are biased against them. In this we will also discuss the MHRN case.

GPs and medical evidence – The minister has maintained from the start that the more medical evidence a claimant has, the more accurate the outcomes. He MUST ensure that GPs are able to provide this evidence and not allowed to refuse. Assessors MUST take all evidence fully into account, looking at GPs/Consultants evidence and claim forms first, before considering a WCA

So, that’s eight things. There are 800 more. As it is, we will have less than 5 minutes per issue. I really hope that you think this is a good list or at least as good as it can be in the circumstances. I hope you think it represents what you told us faithfully. If all of these changes were implemented in good faith, many thousands fewer would suffer. That has to be a goal worth fighting for.

Opinions please

Thank you all for the wonderful response to my call for your opinions on what we should bring up in the Spartacus meeting with Hoban on Tuesday.

Tomorrow, I will post about the results and lay out a set of “Demands” for the DWP to act upon immediately, with no more delays or excuses. I hope as many of you as possible will be able to read the post and tell us what you think of the “demands” in the comments below the article Also to feedback if you think we may have missed something vital. This will be a chance for ALL campaigners to decide a final agenda.

We will pick the issues based on 3 things :

Popularity – Ie, the suggestions that got the most mentions. That way YOU are all speaking for yourselves, not me or the others attending.
Achievability – I believe it is vital in this particular meeting to focus on things the DWP have promised to implement but haven’t or issues that we believe they can have little or no reasonable opposition to.
Urgency – Some issues are now so pressing, they simply cannot wait another week.

Since I started campaigning 5 years ago, I’ve always been VERY clear that my intentions are to campiagn politically. Many of us have our own issues that we focus on – perhaps the removal of the Independent Living Fund, the PIP 20 metre rule, Atos…the list goes on and on.

But, for my sins, I took the political route, believing that no matter how broken our democracy might be, it’s always worth fighting for change. I mean to elaborate on this in a longer post soon. From managing to get the Lib Dems to oppose WCAs as part of their official policy (though they were then whipped to go against their own grassroots 😦 ) to lobbying peers over the welfare reform bill. From Labour’s appalling attempts at “tougher than the Mail” attacks on sick and disabled people to IDS multitude of failures, it’s the political aspect of all of this that makes me come alive.

From producing the Spartacus Report to every article I’ve ever written, you might notice, if you re-read a few, that I am ALWAYS writing as though to an imaginary politician.

Spartacus fights for change using the democratic process. Any change. I believe the majority of the iron-tough people still wearing a Spartacus “twibbon” or promoting the #WOWpetition read this blog because they support that approach. I believe that any change, any improvements are worth fighting for.

Those attending will be Dave and I, Sam Barnett-Cormack (@narco_sam) and Stef Benstead (@stefbedstead). Obviously Michael Meacher will be there too, but in the interests of balance, I asked if Robert Halfon could come along. As one of the few Conservatives who have spoken out about Atos, I hoped he would add a little balance

As I said in the earlier post, My position on WCAs is that I believe they should be abolished. That hasn’t ever changed any never will.

However, I don’t believe that I can reject any opportunity to make things a bit safer in the meantime if I possibly can. If it saves just one life or one family falling into despair, it will have been worth it. If I go into the meeting demanding that WCAs are scrapped with immediate effect, that chance will be lost. I fought for over a year for this meeting.

This government simply will not scrap WCAs. As we all know and have learnt to our considerable cost, they will barely compromise on buying a few more recording devices to record assessments, never mind scrapping the benefit altogether.

However, one increasingly persistent campaigner insists that I ask your opinion on this. He feels that I am being undemocratic and arrogant. That’s fine, it’s absolutely his prerogative to disagree with my approach and any similar comments will be more than welcome on my blog.

However, I suggested his call for a vote was unnecessary. I’ve consulted you all every step of the way,  and hundreds of you have taken the time to leave feedback and suggestions for the meeting. I will be taking forward the issues you say are the most vital to you. Most importantly however, I see the comments thread as a vote in itself, open to all and un-moderated. I felt that this campaigner’s suggestion was simply one of many. If enough people wanted me to go to the meeting and insist on full abolition of WCA’s, and many comments had called for it, I would absolutely present that view. It’s not about me, it’s about all of you.

I don’t want anyone to criticise this campaigner. He feels passionately about this issue, and believes he’s doing the right thing to ensure that I act with transparency.

Unfortunately, the discourse hasn’t always been terrible pleasant, but that still doesn’t make me any more “right” than he feels he is.

With all of this in mind, here’s a link to a very quick  “Yes/No” survey, written by this campaigner himself. I initially said I wouldn’t post it. I suggested that if this issue was so very important to him, he should collect the evidence himself, and I’d gladly take it into account. After all, that’s the “Spartacus way” lol

Often called “voodoo polls” votes like this have no real value as respondents are self selecting. However, it’s harmful to all of our campaigns, if one of the “team” is unhappy and tweeting dissent that damages the overall movement.

With that in mind, the question is, would you vote for

A) Demanding full abolition of WCAs and refusing to discuss further compromises or improvements


B) Making it clear our position has always been to scrap WCAs, but also, raising some of the most punitive issues in the hope we can at least improve things a little.

You can complete the survey by clicking on this link http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/73WGMFJ

Please retweet or share to help spread the word if you can, as time is short.