Wearing one of my many hats, I am a Trustee of Belfast’s local HIV charity, The HIV Support Centre. The Harrington Review into Work Capability Assessments that was published yesterday must be taken note of by Northern Ireland’s own Social Development Minister, Alex Attwood MLA. Below is the text of a post on The HIV Support Centre’s website.
The HIV Support Centre supports NAT in welcoming the findings, released today, within Professor Malcolm Harrington’s independent review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). We fully support the call for change to ‘improve the fairness and effectiveness of the WCA’ by improving transparency, empathy and communication within the assessment process for Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
Michael Carchrie Campbell, one of the Trustees of The HIV Support Centre said:
It is essential that here in Northern Ireland our local politicians especially the Social Development Minister, Alex Attwood MLA take note of what this review says. It is vital that all who cannot work because of the side-effects of living with HIV are recognised as needing help by the Social Security Agency,
NAT were among the 400 organisations and individuals to contribute to the independent review, based on our own research report Unseen disability, Unmet needs – A review of the impact of Work Capability Assessment on people living with HIV.
NAT’s Chief Executive, Deborah Jack commented:
NAT supports the recommendations of the independent review and we were extremely pleased to see some of our concerns included in the final report. Our research has found that the barriers to work experienced by people living with HIV, such fluctuating symptoms, side-effects of treatment, depression, pain and fatigue are not fully taken into account by the WCA.
As Professor Harrington notes, this is the first of five independent reviews of the WCA, and there is clearly a long way to go in order to address all of the issues that NAT and other disability organisations have raised around the WCA. In addition, NAT is extremely concerned that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will go ahead with plans to migrate 1.5 million incapacity benefit recipients on to ESA from February, without fully considering Professor Harrington’s findings or how to implement them.