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Majority of 'fit for work' assessments overruled

Wheelchair user waiting for a bus
Wheelchair user waiting for a bus

A staggering 95% of disabled people who turned to a Medway legal service after being deemed "fit for work" are having their rulings overturned.

That is according to Medway Citizens Advice Bureau, which claims dozens of severely disabled people are being unfairly ordered back to work.

Figures released by CAB show the number of appeals has gone from four a month to four a week since "work capability assessments" were introduced in 2008.

They were designed to combat fraud and ensure people do not stay on benefits indefinitely, but some disabled people say the system, including face-to-face assessments by the firm Atos Healthcare, leads to benefits being cut unfairly.

Medway CAB chief executive Dan McDonald said: "The work capability assessment appears to be failing genuinely sick and disabled people and causing hardship to vulnerable claimants."

Mr McDonald said one client wrote how he used to enjoy fishing before being disabled and was deemed fit for work, with part of the reason given that he "goes fishing".

Out of 89 fit for work appeals on CAB books so far has recorded a 95% success rate in overturning decisions.

Mr McDonald, who has written to Medway’s three MPs, said those denied their benefits often went to the JobCentre only to be told they should be at home.

A spokesman for Atos, which carries out the assessments, said its face-to-face visits were robust and only one part of the assessment system.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said nationally, 15% of "fit for work" decisions were overturned on appeal.

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