Are you fit for work?

Readers will probably be aware that the UK government has redesigned the capability test that determines whether or not you are fit enough to work, and so whether or not you need incapacity benefit. The aim is, of course, to reduce spending, by taking away benefits from some of those currently receiving them. There has been widespread criticism of the way in which this has been done, with some people reduced to such a state of desperation that they have taken their own lives. The following letter printed in Friday’s Guardian aptly illustrates how bad the system has now become. Read it and weep.

The government says it is committed to a “fair and accurate” work capability assessment. The distress and injustice caused by this new system needs to be publicised far and wide.

My brother died last week of kidney cancer. He was diagnosed a year ago and at Christmas was told he had about four months to live. In the spring he was summoned for a work capability assessment (by this time he had two brain tumours) and found fit for work. In addition to everything else, he became anxious about losing the small amount of money he was living on. He was asked to go in to the jobcentre for an interview but was too ill at the time. On 19 May he received a letter from Jobcentre Plus telling him he was to be treated as having limited capability for work. The medical officer overseeing his case had advised that “death within six months is unlikely to occur due to the client’s cancer” and there would be no “substantial risk to his mental or physical health if he were found capable of work-related activity”.

He died six days later, having been unable to get out of bed for four weeks. What work were they suggesting he was capable of? He asked: “What have I paid national insurance for if not help to pay the bills and feed me at a time like this?”

Claire Debenham


You can read more about the disastrous new system here.

3 thoughts on “Are you fit for work?

  1. Goldfish, I always learn interesting things at your blog.

    Monkey, thanks for putting this up, shocking though it is. I really can’t understand how people in official positions manage to be able to say “But in this case black is white (utterly disabled is capable of working).” Again, it seems to me like the Monty Python “This parrot is not dead” skit.

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