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Preventable Harm and the Work Capability Assessment

Author: Mo Stewart

Mo Stewart has been one of the most important disability researchers in recent times. She has persisted in tracking down the source of some of the most regressive changes to the welfare state - now misleadingly named “Welfare Reforms”. Her book Cash Not Care provides a detailed survey of these changes and the reasons behind them.

In this short discussion paper she provides a brief overview of some of the most important elements in the development of a policy which is causing preventable harm to UK citizens:

  1. The initial change in policy, introduced by Mrs Thatcher, which aims to shift people from a system of public security to one of private health and disability insurance.
  2. The influence of UnumProvident Insurance, a US insurance company, in advising Government and supporting the development of an assessment tool that will reduce eligibility for support.
  3. The development of the phoney biopsychosocial model of disability which has undermined genuine assessments of need.
  4. The work of Lord Freud, who weaponised this model in order to design a Work Capability Assessment (which is used to determine eligibility for Employment & Support Allowance) which continues to be used to strip sick and disabled people of necessary support.

More of Mo Stewart's research is available on her website: www.mostewartresearch.co.uk

Read and download the free pdf in your browser here.

The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform.

Preventable Harm and the Work Capability Assessment © Mo Stewart 2018.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.



Mo Stewart

Mo Stewart


Deleted BBC News Item on Unum

Deleted BBC News Item on Unum

In 2007 the BBC reported on the influence that a US insurance company was having on UK policy, in 2010 this item was deleted from BBC archives.

Letters to the DWP

Letters to the DWP

Correspondence between Mo Stewart, the independent disability researcher, and officials at the DWP, reveals the difficulty of holding a bureaucracy to account.

Work Capability Assessment: deaths and suicides

Work Capability Assessment

This report from the Spartacus Network draws together accounts of death and suicide associated with the WCA.

Submission on Social Security 2016

Submission on Social Security 2016

In partnership with Ekklesia the Centre for Welfare Reform made a submission to the UK Liberal Democrats policy review on social security.

The People's Review of WCA Further Evidence

People's Review of WCA Further Evidence

This report provides additional evidence to the first People's Review of the Work Capability Assessment.

In the Expectation of Recovery

In the Expectation of Recovery

George Faulkner's report outlines how misleading medical research has been used to support disability cuts and other changes to the welfare state.

A Grounded Theory Study of Disability Benefit Changes

A Grounded Theory Study

Jessica Saffer carried out doctoral research into the psychological impact of Government changes to the disability benefit system - welfare reform.