25% or 1 in every 4 people assessed by the private company ATOS to have been fit for work when applying for benefits with illness or disability have won their appeal to receive benefit.
Thousands of people stripped of their entitlement by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) claim the assessments are “distressing’”and “unreliable.”
The DWP said 15 per cent of fit-for-work decisions are overturned on appeal with 8,497 lodged across the region against decisions to remove or deny ESA since its introduction in 2008. Her Majesty’s Tribunal Service has sided with around 26 per cent of claimants or 2,234 cases.
A spokesman for the DWP said:
“ESA assesses someone’s capacity for work and looks at what a person can do, not what they can’t. If someone disagrees with the outcome of their assessment, they have the right to appeal”
The assessments were piloted under Labour but rolled out nationally by the Tory-led coalition and millions are now having their incapacity status reviewed.
Labour Stoke-on-Trent North MP Joan Walley speaking to the Sentinel said:
“Every appeal has a huge impact on people’s mental health and causes loved ones a lot of concern as it’s leaving their relatives with no money and, in some cases, people can become suicidal.
“And the appeals mean taxpayers are having to pay for the process twice.
“I am inundated with heart-breaking letters from people who have previously worked and paid taxes all their lives and are now being destroyed by the dreadful effect of the flawed way these assessments are being carried out.”
A spokesman for the mental health charity Mind said:
“More than a third of people apply for ESA because they have mental health problems. We know that many are wrongly declared fit for work.”