Thursday, 10 October 2013

Cambridge MP Backs Mental Health Charity Campaign To Make Fit-For-Work Testfair

Julian takes part in  the MP Capability
Assessment in Westminster
MP Julian Huppert has backed a campaign by the national charity Rethink Mental Illness to make the Government’s fit-for-work test fair for people with mental illness. 

He also joined Rethink Mental Illness, MIND and Time to Change to celebrate today's (Thursday, October 10) World Mental Health Day. 

Julian pledged his support for the campaign after being invited to take part in a mock “fit-for-work” test, organised by Rethink Mental Illness to give MPs a deeper insight into the flaws in the Government’s fit-for-work benefits tests. 

Around 20,000 people are going through the Work Capability Assessment process every week, which was established in 2007 by the last government, despite the fact that in a recent court case (1) three judges found that the tests put people with mental health problems at a ‘substantial disadvantage’. 

In August, Julian received letters from Rethink Mental Illness activists in Cambridge, similar to those sent by the Government, summoning him to the assessment. He was asked to bring proof of identity and ‘evidence demonstrating your ability to be an MP.’ 

Lara Carmona, Head of Campaigns for Rethink Mental Illness said: “This was obviously a slightly tongue in cheek exercise, but there is a very serious message underpinning it. Just as our MP Capability Assessment doesn’t accurately reflect Julian Huppert’s ability to be an MP, neither does the Work Capability Assessment fairly judge whether someone with mental illness is able to work. 

“That’s why we are delighted that Julian has backed our call for the Government to make the fit-for-work test fair for people with mental illness. The system isn’t working, and it’s in everyone’s interests that we have a fair and accurate assessment process, which gets it right the first time. It could make a huge difference to some of the most vulnerable people in Cambridge.” 

Julian said: “This one-size-fits all test leaves people with autism or mental illness seriously disadvantaged. Their needs are complex and should be assessed as such, by people who are expert in this area. 

“I have raised my concerns with the government after a number of my constituents have told me how they have been treated unfairly through this assessment process. I welcome this campaign and will continue to push the government on this issue.” 

1. This was the interim judgment of the Judicial Review of the Work Capability Assessment on 22nd May 2013. See the judgment in full here 

Rethink Mental Illness is a charity that believes a better life is possible for millions of people affected by mental illness. 

For 40 years the charity has brought people together to support each other. It runs services and support groups that change people’s lives and challenge attitudes about mental illness. 

It directly supports almost 60,000 people every year across England to get through crises, to live independently and to realise they are not alone. 

It gives information and advice to 500,000 more and it changes policy for millions. 

For more information go to www.rethink.org