People with mental health conditions are being failed by employment support and benefit assessments, reports the IPPR

25th August 2014

A new report by IPPR North argues that people with mental health problems, who make up 40 percent of those going through the work capability assessment (WCA) process, are being let down by the system. They argue that the assessment appears to be neither effective nor accurate in determining the appropriate level of financial or employment support for claimants with mental health problems and that the system fails to provide the kind of support for claimants that is adequate or appropriate for people with mental health problems.
The paper recommendations focusing on:

collecting additional information and evidence about people who might be disadvantaged by the level of self-reporting that the WCA requires
additional training for assessors and decision-makers before they are allowed to handle applicants with mental and behavioural health problems
continuous monitoring of how the WCA is conducted to mitigate negative effects on the wellbeing of participants with mental health problems

Beyond these specific areas of improvement, they propose two principles for wider reform of employment assessment and support.

The WCA should be about assessing support needed for a person to work, not policing a gateway to benefits: despite the rhetoric, the WCA is still a test of what people can’t do, focused on benefits rather than employment
Work support services should be about pursuing ‘supported employment’ strategies, not just supported job search: the current regime is too focused on labour market attachment, but other approaches are available, like the ‘place, train and retain’ approach used in Norway and Sweden

For the full report, click here