The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is under fire again. This time, because disabled people forced to attend its work capability assessments (WCA) can’t even access one of its centres. But unfortunately, this type of inanity from the DWP is not uncommon.
As the Daily Gazette reported, the DWP’s outsourced centre for health and disability assessments in Colchester is where disabled people are sent for their WCA. The assessments decide if sick and disabled people are ill or impaired enough to receive their benefit entitlements.
But the centre in Colchester has a problem: to get in, you have to get past a five-inch step at the front door.
If disabled people can’t navigate the step, they have to use an intercom and wait for a member of staff to support them. But one disabled woman has spoken out about this.
Ali Wilkin told the Daily Gazette she lives with an autoimmune condition “which causes chronic pain and fatigue so being lifted aggravates her condition”. Due to her condition, she can only travel for two hours at a time. She says that the intercom system is not “reasonable” for someone with her impairments. Wilkin also says the alternative of travelling to a centre in either Chelmsford or Ipswich is not suitable either.
She raised the accessibility problems with the DWP. It then offered her an appointment around 25 miles away in Chelmsford, six months later. But due to her condition, this was not suitable. So, the department advised her to use a different entrance into its Colchester building. But before she could even attend, the DWP declared her fit-for-work. Wilkin says she now has to rely on family for financial support, and is appealing the DWP’s decision.