This week, disability activists Sue Marsh and Kaliya Franklin blogged on the new “descriptors” which will be used by to assess whether people, particularly disabled or older people, are well and fit enough to work or not.
They have not been confirmed, but are from a reliable anonymous source. As anyone who has been following the news closely will know, the current procedures for assessment have been heavily criticized by many, including the highly respected Professor Harrington, who has put forward a series of recommendations which the Government has accepted.
Getting the new descriptors right is crucial, and it looks like progress is being made. The following is an extensive excerpt, the rest of which can be found on the respective blogs of both Sue and Kaliya.
In the interests of clarity, it should be noted that United Response were not involved in developing the new descriptors.
A week or so ago, we were sent a new set of descriptors anonymously that seemed to be significant improvement. We didn’t know who had written them or whether there was any realistic chance that they would ever be used.
As you can see from the guest post on our blogs, it turns out that these were the descriptors suggested by the mental health charities, learning disabilites charities and charities representing those with fluctuating conditions.
We felt that it was only fair that you be given the chance to decide for yourselves what you think of the new descriptors. We are told that they may have changed over the last few weeks but that broadly, these are the descriptors that the DWP now say that they will test independently and fairly.
We also felt, once we had seen them, that Mind and other charities had made the correct decision to work with the DWP rather than walking way and leaving the testing to be done by the DWP alone, without any input from sick or disabled people.
We can only hope that these descriptors ARE closer to a model that will be used in the future as any improvement can only mean that millions of people currently undergoing an unfair and distressing process are more fairly treated.
As Mind have pointed out, these new descriptors are far from perfect, but those currently used are unfit for purpose.
From, Sue and Kaliya.
The DWP should have few higher priorities than getting these descriptors – and indeed the whole of its assessment process – right. This news is positive, but we are still a long way from being able to be confident that everyone is assessed fairly and correctly.
Until that point is reached, activists like Kaliya and Sue, and charities like Mind, are performing a huge service to vulnerable people by keeping the spotlight on these problems.
Jaime Gill, head of press and public affairs.