Monday, 5 September 2011

Great news on the ESA Amendment!

Today I got two bits of very welcome news- one of them was expected but the other was a delightful surprise.

The first bit of good news was that the amendment Sophie Bridger and I have written to the ESA motion was submitted to the Federal Conference Committee today by Guildford Liberal Democrats who are kindly sponsoring it. This now means that the FCC will formally consider whether to allow the amendment to be placed on the agenda for the debate on the original motion itself. Under the circumstances, I can't see any grounds for blocking a debate on an amendment so that stage should be something of a formality.

For those interested, here's what the motion would look like if the amendment were passed by conference.

The other bit of good news is that another amendment to the motion has been submitted. I knew nothing about this one until today but it seems to have almost identical intentions to the amendment Sophie and I have written. Now, this does mean that the two amendments could potentially clash with each other, so I'm speaking to the people behind the other amendment to try and resolve the situation, but the great thing is that other people cared enough about the motion to try and strengthen it with an amendment. And the truly awesome part is that one of the people behind the other amendment is Dr Evan Harris, a former Lib Dem MP and all round good guy who has been incredibly effective at fighting the bad things the tories have been trying to do in the coalition such as the NHS reforms. And, given that he's behind the amendment, then he must also support the motion as well! As such, this means that we finally have a "big beast" on our side - exactly the kind of thing that greatly strengthens the chance of a motion being passed!


  1. First time I've actually looked at the content of this motion, with or without amendment, and a couple of nits occur to be picked...

    Firstly, the appeal success rate is about 40%, rising to 70% with representation, AIUI. It's worth noting that, as this is a first-tier tribunal, representation isn't routinely available from legal aid, only advice (and the Legal Aid reforms will get rid of that as well).

    Secondly, the argument about medical assessments are routinely met with the assertion that the WCA is a functional assessment, not a medical one. I think everyone is confused about which term to use, but I think the actual formal language used in law and regulations and so forth is to call it a functional test. That is actually in line with the good, authentic social model of disability (as opposed to successive governments' claims about what the social model means), in that it isn't about what illness or disease or whatever (diagnosis) you have, but rather it's about how you're practically affected.

    Absolutely 100% behind the intent of the motion, though.

  2. Sounds like positive news, all digits crossed on this being the step that finally allows disabled peoples' fears to be heard.

    Expanding on Sam's comment, it might be correct to describe the assessment as functional, but that doesn't mean it is a good functional assessment. The symptom that actually stops me performing my job, pain's effect on cognition, doesn't show up in the descriptors at all, so can never score anything other than zero points. This goes for a whole range of other disabling factors such as fatigue and nausea - to borrow a Eurovision-ism: Null Point. And if the aim is to have a 'good' functional assessment, why did Grayling tell the Select Committee he was adamantly opposed to an assessment that reflected an actual job?

    (WRT appeal success rates, I've seen a couple of recent mentions of an organisation having a 96% success rate, but nothing to indicate which organisation it is).

  3. @Sam

    Thanks for pointing that out. I've actually uploaded the wrong version of the motion as that line you're referring to was changed to use the 40% figure instead of the 70% figure. I should point out though that the 70% figure is the rate when those going to appeal have advice from the CAB.

    Thanks for your comment :)

  4. The real kicker about the pain, fatigue, nausea etc is that, when it was being designed, advocates were told that that would work by surrogate through other activities - concentration, especially, but also mobility, standing, and so forth. Some of this has been reduced by the switch to mobilising, the merging of standing and sitting, and so forth, and on the question of concentration the assessors generally refuse to accept that pain, nausea, fatigue or vertigo affect concentration. At least the question of repeatable, reliable and in a timely fashion is clearer now, and assessors seem to be taking them into account. Also, they take indirect questions about watching TV to be indicative of concentration, without any idea that this might take less concentration than any sort of employment.

    For the real scare, have a look at the handbook, as made available by the DWP. I think this one is up-to-date, though the Migraine Trust assure me that they've been assured that it's being revised to get rid of the claim that migraines don't cause altered consciousness... This sanctions the indirect questioning, and a range of spurious claims about the effects of different conditions. I assume the DWP distributing means they condone it...


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