Amelia Gentleman, The Guardian, Wednesday 23 February 2011:
People who have had no contact with the benefits system are unlikely to have heard of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). Anyone with disabilities or serious ill-health will probably already have a detailed knowledge of the test's workings and its many alleged disturbing idiosyncrasies.
Aside from the question of whether a computer-led assessment is the best way to analyse someone's fitness, charities are uneasy with this particular test, describing it as a blunt and unsophisticated tool.
Since its preliminary rollout in 2008, people with terminal cancer have been found fit to work.
The test did not identify the array of problems that make life complicated for Matthew Hutchings, 36, and awarded him just six points, not enough to qualify for the benefit. Smiling and shy, he sits quietly as his parents Ray, a retired accountant, and Diane, a teacher, explain that he has had lifelong speech and language problems, is probably autistic, and has always had difficulties with grasping simple tasks.
"People have problems understanding him, he has problems with his speech, with his understanding and with his confidence. But it is a hidden thing, until you know him well. He's very vulnerable," his mother says.
When he was called for his disability test, his father accompanied him. "The assessment was farcical for someone like Matthew – it was all: Can you sit down? Can you stand up? Can you pick something up? He can do all those things, but that's not what the problem is," Ray says. "They asked if he could cook. I explained he couldn't, but that he was able to heat something up in a microwave. In the report they said he could cook."
His father appealed immediately against the judgment and six months later the case went to appeal. The tribunal judge ruled that Matthew was not capable of work. Read more>>
See also: 3 more assessed "fit for work" by ATOS die