I received another letter from Chris Grayling, via my MP yesterday.
Thank you for your letter of 15 September to the Minister for Welfare Reform on behalf of Ms Olana Voljeti, regarding the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). I am replying as the Minister responsible for this area of teh Department's work.
People are entitled to Employment and Support Allowance for as long as they satisfy the entitlement conditions. To ensure that people who receive the benefit are doing so correctly and to achieve this, people will be considered to undertake a WCA to make sure that they meet the entitlement conditions. This is part of the claimant's responsibilities which balances the right to benefit.
However, it is appreciated that the process can prove stressful for some people and a number of steps have been taken to ensure that this is minimised where possible. All claimants are sent form AL1C prior to their WCA, which contains details of who to contact if they have specific needs or concerns such as the ones Ms Voljeti mentions. If it is not possible for the claimant to attend the WCA then the Healthcare professional responsible for carrying it out may, for example, be able to conduct a home visit instead if this would be more appropriate. Furthermore, even if a person fails to attend an examination, the decision maker will review all the relevant facts before reaching a decision as to whether or not benefit is payable.
I hope this is helpful to Ms Voljeti.
With best wishes,
Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP
Minister for Employment
I am not 100% certain what he is actually addressing here, and am too foggy to actually look through my letters to work it out. I remember mentioning that it would be useful if people attending medical assessments have the ability to contact the medical centre in case they cannot attend the assessment for any reason, since if you do not attend you automatically fail the assessment.
Firstly, he seems to have misunderstood my meaning. I know from personal experience that I cannot arrange a home medical unless you definitely cannot attend the medical at the centre. I was told, when trying to arrange for my medical to be performed at home, that I would have to have someone take me. With conditions such as M.E., it is quite possible that we would not be able to attend on the day of the medical when we had actually been fine the day before. My point however, was that there are a number of things that could prevent someone attending ... ones car might break down, a family emergency, the person giving you a lift may be called into work ... none of these would constitute a medical being performed at home.
He also seems to be oblivious to the reality of what is happening. Everyone I know who has been unable to attend a medical, including myself a few years ago, automatically had their benefits revoked. No one contacted me to ask why. They were just stopped, and they were stopped before I received any letter explaining why. The reason given, very clearly on the letter stated that it was because I had not attended the medical.
I would like, but know is unlikely to happen, for as many people who had that same experience, to write to Chris Grayling, all within a one week period, telling him that whilst he believes his system works in a particular way, it in fact does not.