Kevan Jones MP 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.
Mr Jones pledged his support for the campaign after taking part in an event in Westminster on Wednesday 11th September, where the charity’s supporters asked MPs to prove they are fit for their jobs.
The event was organised by Rethink Mental Illness to give MPs a deeper insight into the flaws in the Government’s fit-for-work benefits tests.
Mr Jones went through an MP Capability Assessment, which mirrors the Work Capability Assessment, the controversial test used by the Government to decide whether thousands of people with mental illness and other disabilities, are entitled to financial support.
Roughly 20,000 people are going through the process every week, despite the fact that in a recent court case three judges found that the tests put people with mental health problems at a ‘substantial disadvantage’.
The ‘I Agree With Dick’ campaign, which is led by Rethink Mental Illness activist Dick Acworth, is calling for the Government to stop using the work capability assessment to judge whether people with mental illness should receive benefits, until the test is improved.
In August, Mr Jones received letters from our activists in North Durham, similar to those sent by the Government, summoning him to yesterday’s 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 Kevan Jones’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 Kevan Jones has backed our call for the Government to make the fit-for-week 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.”
Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham, said: “I was really pleased to help Rethink Mental Illness host this event in Parliament. Hopefully it will help more MPs understand how the Government’s fit-for-work test is putting people with mental illness at a serious disadvantage.
“I know from speaking to my own constituents how much distress the test is causing, especially for people with conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This needs to change, and I fully support Rethink Mental Illness’s call for the Government to make its fit-for-work test fairer for people with mental illness. It could make a huge difference to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”