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Gavin calls for review of "cruel" fit-for-work tests

Gavin Newlands, the MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith MP, to urge him to initiate an independent review of his department’s Work Capability Assessment’s (WCA) after expert research suggested that 600 suicides may be associated with the government’s policy.

Researchers from Oxford University and Liverpool University studied data from 2010-13 and found that the WCAs could be linked to an increase in mental health problems. The study found that the areas with most WCAs showed the sharpest increases in adverse mental health outcomes. The research concluded:

“The programme of reassessing people on disability benefits using the Work Capability Assessment was independently associated with an increase in suicides, self-reported mental health problems and antidepressant prescribing. This policy may have had serious adverse consequences for mental health in England which would outweigh any benefits that arise from moving people of disability benefits.”

Last week, the SNP could called for an urgent review into the UK Government’s WCA regime after it was revealed that Ministers failed to pass on official legal warnings about the suicide of Stephen Carre, who was subjected to the assessment and took his own life in 2010.

Gavin Newlands, the MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said:

“This independent expert research raises grave concerns about the UK Government’s cruel and demeaning Work Capability Assessment regime and, in light of this alarming report, the Secretary of State for the DWP has serious questions to answer and an independent review must be allowed to take place as a matter of urgency.

“However, these new findings tell the same devastating story – people who live with disabilities and long-term sickness face a distressing assessment within the DWP’s current regime. Indeed, a number of my constituents in Renfrewshire have contacted me to raise their personal experiences, with one man saying that it was so upsetting that he had tears rolling down his face.

“The evidence is stacking up, serious concerns are being raised and the UK Government must stop being stubborn and, as a matter of urgency, allow for an independent review into the devastating impact of their Work Capability Assessment policy to take place.

“I have written to Iain Duncan Smith to call on him to initiate this independent review. Stubbornness simply will not suffice – we deserve answers.”

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