I, Daniel Blake and the Work Capability Assessment

So much for the theory – in fact the implementation of the WCA has been nothing short of disastrous. Tens of thousands of applicants have been refused benefits and there has been a huge level of successful appeals against awards. From the outset, the French company Atos, contracted to deliver the WCA, struggled to recruit enough nurses, doctors and physiotherapists to carry out the assessments. Atos was strongly criticised by the National Audit Office in 2012 and the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee in 2013. (Atos were replaced by USA firm Maximus in March 2015, but many of these problems remain.)

More than half of the original decisions (refusing Employment and Support Allowance) are overturned. In the meantime, before the appeal is heard, claimants are often expected to go out and seek work even though they may be suffering from conditions which make this impossible. Those who, like Daniel Blake, do not appear to be trying hard enough, may face being sanctioned – having their benefits withdrawn.

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