bigleyma is thinking…

My Freedom Of Information requests (links):

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28th July 2011: (response expected by 26th August)

“Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

I have recently written letters, with requests for answers, to DWP
Ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling, concerning the
practices of Atos Healthcare. In response I received generic
letters from ‘The Correspondence Team’ claiming Ministers are
unable to respond due to the ‘large volume’ of mail they receive.

Could you please release to me the statistics on the amount of
mail, both written and electronic, that the DWP have received that
are connected with Atos Healthcare, ESA or the WCA?”

“Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

The DWP states that the structure underpinning the Work Capability
Assessment is derived from “evidence based medical research carried
out by Atos Healthcare to determine the functional consequences of
specific clinical signs”.

When I emailed Atos Healthcare to request identification of this
medical research I was directed to contact the DWP for it. I was
surprised, as since it was conducted by Atos Healthcare one would
expect them to take responsibility for it. I pressed them further,
but they repeated that “any enquiry related to an area of Atos
Healthcare’s Business is a FOI” and that contractually the DWP is
responsible for dealing with these. Very surprising.

Regardless, I must then request from the DWP, as I did from Atos,
details of what this research constitutes. I would expect an
extensive and comprehensive body of research, including all
relevant material such as: Names of researchers involved, evidence
generated, methods, conclusions, meta-analyses etc in such forms as
reports, journal articles, conference reports and so on.”

2nd August 2011: (response expected by 31st August)

“Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

In March 2011 amendments to the ESA regulations resulted in the
modification of WCA descriptors and the deletion of some of these
as no longer relevant. As these descriptors are claimed to relate
to actual work environments I am requesting the following
employment-related data.

1. Does the DWP keep records of the various Occupational
Classification categories which those claiming a health-related
benefit (such as ESA or DLA) fell into prior to them giving up

2. If so, can you please release figures to date for this?

3. If possible a further breakdown into the numbered sections of
those categories would be requested, so as to identify more closely
the distribution of occupations amongst claimants, demonstrating
type of work that is most/least prevalent etc.”

Note of explanation for the third request. At the 14th June meeting of the First Delegated Legislation Committe regarding the 2011 amendments to the ESA regulations, Stephen Timms MP made the following observation about the changed descriptors:

“Citizens Advice objected to the removal from the list of the requirement to be able to bend or kneel – apparently removed because we do not need to do that any more in a modern workplace (my italics).

Wow. Really? Actually I’ve just tried to write a sentence about that several times, and words fail to adequately express what I think. So, I thought perhaps a FOI request was in order. Will it reveal that all claimants had non-bending, non-kneeling occupations before becoming sick or disabled? Highly unlikely, but I await with suspense their response, and relish the chance to get my data-scouring tentacles into gear.

Perhaps the most pertinent aspect of this will be, as Mr Timms repeated, Mr Grayling’s affirmed intent to ignore all aspects of real world work while assessing people’s fitness for it:

“The one thing I am absolutely unreservedly and implacably opposed to in all of this is a real world test”

Link for the above quotes:


Written by bigleyma

August 2, 2011 at 3:23 pm

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