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Appeal against rejection of the Guildford sponsored amendment to Motion F6 Grounds given for rejection “We understand that

there are several inaccuracies here following the Harrington Review. [1]Paragraph (b) is not true, [2](c) has happened, [3](e) is not accurate and the later [4](b) (under line 31 and 32) is not accurate either. There was no drafting advice sought and this could have been picked up then.” Basis of appeal For the sake of clarity, each of the points raised in the rejection has been given a number (in square brackets) above. The sections of the amendment they relate to are given below: [1] B. The new Work Capability Assessment has been shown to be inaccurate and not fit for purpose. [2] C. Any medical assessments should be carried out only by trained medical professionals who are accountable to official medical bodies such as the GMC or the RCN. [3] E. The current Assessment procedure, whereby claimants are assessed by the use of a computergenerated questionnaire in which the Assessor uses a "tick box" technique, does not have the scope to properly take account of the claimant's medical history as provided by their GP and/or Consultant. [4] b) Ensuring all medical components of Work Capability Assessments are undertaken by fully trained professionals, including those who understand mental health and fluctuating chronic and complex conditions. Points [1], [2] and [3] would all be changes to the “Conference believes” section of the motion. As such, they would be conference’s opinion and therefore it is felt that questions of accuracy cannot Point [1] is included in the amendment because the authors and it is believed that the numerous criticisms of the assessment by the Work and Pensions Committee, disability charities, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Macmillan Cancer support, the tribunal judiciary and, as of late, the Harrington report, are all indications that the system as constituted, and as would exist if the Welfare Reform Bill were to be passed into law without changes, justify the description of the WCA as inaccurate and not fit for purpose. Point [2] exists in the amendment because it is believed that this should be the official position of the Liberal Democrats. If changes have been implemented since the writing of the amendment which means that this is now the case, then this would merely be a section of the amendment which supported that aspect of the status quo and confirmed Liberal Democrat support of it. It is also believed that the fact that physiotherapists conduct assessments, and that all those conducting assessments only undergo five days training before doing so, that it is important that Liberal Democrats exert pressure to ensure that fully medically qualified and trained staff with relevant knowledge perform the assessments in future, regardless of the status quo at the moment. Point [3] is said to be inaccurate in the grounds given for rejection. However, a quick read of the Work Capability Assessment descriptors (http://www.tameside.gov.uk/esa/wca) will show that a points based, tick box system is in fact used. With regards to the belief expressed in the amendment that it does not have the scope to take into account medical evidence, it is felt that the following publications by bodies such as Macmillan and the CAB give backing to these beliefs:   http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Documents/GetInvolved/Campaigns/Benefits/FailedByTheSyst emReport.pdf http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/index/policy/policy_publications/not_working.htm

http://www.cas.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/A5216FB1-8B09-4DB6-A62101F0363F84AD/0/CRWorkcapabilityassessment.pdf (page 23)

With regards to Point [4], it is again felt that the claim of inaccuracy is unjustified. Attention is drawn to the comment by the BMA regarding the staff who conduct the Work Capability Assessments: "...While we cannot comment on individual cases the BMA does have concerns regarding the use of non-doctors by the Department of Work and Pensions and Atos Healthcare to assess patients for benefits claims.” It is also pointed out that many of the illnesses and disabilities which are potentially covered by the Work Capability Assessment are of such complexity that only specialists in the field can fully appreciate each individual condition. In contrast, doctors who conduct the assessments are not required to have knowledge of the specific condition they are assessing and quite frequently will only have general medical knowledge. Furthermore, nurses and physiotherapists, who also conduct assessments, will not have covered as part of their medical training these conditions at all even in the general sense that a doctor may have. It is because of this that the BMA expressed the concern in the above quotation. One analogy used is that an electronic and civil engineer are both engineers. Yet this does not mean that an electronic engineer is qualified to assess the design of a bridge or that a civil engineer is qualified to assess the design of a television. Given that the assessments made have such a potentially significant impact on the lives of vulnerable sick and disabled people, it is felt that this line of the amendment is perfectly accurate and justified. In conclusion, it is therefore believed that the grounds given for rejection of the amendment are flawed and should be overturned. It is further believed that points [1] to [3] are statements of principle and therefore it is not an impediment to their validity if the current system matches them or not. Finally, it is felt that the key sections of the amendment relate to the removal of sanctions and conditionality from the Work Related Activity Group and to ensuring that claimants going to appeal are given adequate support and representation. It is believed that it would be wrong to reject the amendment on the grounds given when there has been no specified objection to the key parts of the amendment themselves. Drafting Advice It is noted that the grounds given for rejection of the amendment state that no drafting advice was sought. However, drafting advice was sought with Baroness Sal Brinton being the individual who provided the drafting advice. The text of her email (dated 15/08/2011) was as follows: Dear George Thanks for sending your drafting amendment to Andrew Wiseman. I’ve had a look at it, and have suggested a couple of very minor further changes (attached). Given that you are the proposer of the original motion, I think FCC will look at it as a drafting amendment, and they will have to consider it at their meeting in early September. However, my only concern is that your new line 36 (3. All ESA claimants going to appeal to be

given access to adequate support and legal representation.) has a very large bill attached to it. In the slightly looser wording of the previous version it’s implied but not specific. FCC will have to take a view about that.

I hope this is helpful – feel free to ignore my suggestions if they aren’t - and don’t forget to submit

it formally to motions@libdems.org.uk in the usual way by the deadline of 1pm of 5 September.
Best wishes Sal Brinton Vice Chair FCC Baroness Brinton 128 Langley Road Watford WD17 4RR Email: salbrinton@cix.co.uk M: 07768 821187 H: 01923 351164 All of the suggestions were complied with and a reply was sent to Baroness Brinton the same day to confirm that they had been made. The reference to it as a drafting amendment is incorrect due to slight confusion - as it was always intended for the amendment to be a stand-alone amendment - however the indisputable fact is that drafting advice was sought, received and followed. A record of the emails has been kept should additional proof be required.