Review: An Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment – Year Three

The review had the following recommendations for areas of work that should be continued:

– Continuing to improve communications with claimants: changes so far are having a positive impact on the claimant experience, although increased contact with claimants can prove difficult for both individuals and Decision Makers.

– Continuing to improve communications within Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) operations: DWP is a large Department but effective communications between Decision Makers and Personal Advisers are vital if the whole organisation is to understand both the overarching purpose of the WCA and why decisions have been reached at an individual level. The extension of a pilot aimed at smoothing the transition between the WCA and work is welcomed. Rapid implementation is needed if this proves successful.

– Continuing to improve the face-to-face assessment: DWP should monitor Atos performance more closely. Indeed the quality and depth of the relationship between DWP and Atos remains variable at a local level. The opportunity for Decision Makers and Atos healthcare professionals to discuss individual cases will help ensure quality decisions, but these relationships take time to build.

– Establishing quality dialogue between DWP and First-tier Tribunals: while progress has, finally, been made here there remains much more to do if the whole assessment process is to become transparent and accountable.

– Keeping the Decision Maker central to the assessment process and providing them with all the further documentary evidence they need to get the decision ‘right first time’: shifting the emphasis from the independent face-to-face assessment to a more holistic approach will help improve both the accuracy and the integrity of the whole process. Decision Makers are being empowered, but they need to have access to as much information as possible on which to make their decisions and to be given latitude to make these decisions ‘right first time’.

– Continually monitoring changes to the WCA: the Review has seen, first hand, the changes that are beginning to take root. Considerable disquiet remains, and this cannot be ignored. Continuing to monitor the implementation of the Review’s recommendations, and their impact, is key to communicating improvements as they happen.

– Completing work underway on the descriptors: momentum must be maintained to make changes to the cancer treatment provisions and to complete, evaluate and act on the findings of the evidence-based review. This is a far from straightforward process – the work to date is encouraging and must be followed through.

Overall, in light of the positive progress made and the need to do more to embed progress made, this Review has deliberately made fewer recommendations than in previous years. Consolidation and monitoring are the vital next stages: at this stage there is no evidence for a further period of radical reform.

Click here for a full version of the report (pdf format).

Project report: Solidarity but not similarity? LGBT Communities in the twenty first century

The term ‘LGBT community’ is increasingly used in policy, practice and research, yet there is little explicit discussion of what the application of the concept of ‘community’ means to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people. This study therefore sought to examine understandings and experiences of LGBT communities, and assess implications for LGBT health and wellbeing.

The study had two elements: first to bring together existing (predominantly UK) literature from a range of subject disciplines, including geography, health studies, history, psychology and sociology; second to consult with a range of LGBT people via an interactive website, short online survey and a series of in-depth interviews and discussion groups. Question areas were geared towards understanding views on, and experiences of, communities currently, in the past, and in the future.

Click here for a full copy of the report (pdf format).


Report of seminar: ‘Rewriting our rights? Human rights and the UK constitution’

On 12 November 2012, the British Academy Policy Centre, EDF and the EDF Research Network held a seminar about recent human rights developments in the UK.

Tumultuous and politicised debate about human rights protections in the UK led the Government to appoint a Commission on a Bill of Rights to consider the future of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the possibility of introducing a British Bill of Rights. As the UK awaits the Commission’s report to be published at the end of the year, the British Academy, the Equality and Diversity Forum (EDF) and the EDF Research Network held an open discussion on developments around human rights in the UK.

The event considered how those who campaign, research or make policy on this issue should build their respective cases using solid and effective evidence covering:

  • criticisms of the Human Rights Act and whether they have any grounds;
  • the cost of tampering with a functioning system;
  • the legal complexities surrounding this issue;
  • what a new Bill of Rights might mean for the UK.

Speakers were:

  • Professor Sandra Fredman QC, Oxford University, EDF Research Network co-chair, and member of the British Academy steering group for the report (Chair)
  • Colm O’Cinneide, Reader in Law, UCL, and author of the report, Human Rights and the UK Constitution
  • Sarah Isal, Director, UK Race & Europe Network /Deputy Director, Runnymede
  • Joshua Rozenberg, legal commentator
  • Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns, Mind

Click here for event flyer

Click here for summary of the event by Faith Marchal, EDF Research Network

Click here for link to a recording of the event on the British Academy website

Click here for tweets from the event

Click here for details about and link to ‘Human Rights and the UK Constitution’ by Colm O’Cinneide

'Human Rights and the UK Constitution' by Colm O'Cinnedie

Speakers at the seminar on 12 November 2012

Professor Sandra Fredman QC, chairing the seminar

Dr Robin Jackson, Chief Executive, British Academy, welcoming participants

Amanda Ariss, Chief Executive of the Equality and Diversity Forum

British Academy report on ‘Human rights and the UK constitution’

In ‘Human rights and the UK constitution’, Colm O’Cinneide examines how human rights are currently protected within the UK’s unwritten constitutional system.

Published by the British Academy in September 2012, ‘Human rights and the UK constitution’ considers the relationship between the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the UK courts and Parliament; the role the Human Rights Act 1998 plays in protecting individual rights; and how proposals to alter the existing legal framework would affect how human rights are protected within the UK.

Major points include:

  • Elected politicians have the power to opt out of the ECHR; however any attempt to ‘de-incorporate’ Convention rights from UK law would give rise to serious legal complications;
  • A new Bill of Rights could expand human rights protection beyond that offered by the ECHR. However, this would likely extend the role of the judiciary in protecting rights – contrary to the concerns of critics of the Human Rights Act;
  • Any expanded Bill of Rights should be the product of a process that permits disadvantaged groups to participate contribute;
  • Currently UK human rights law appears to be compatible with constitutional principles and strike a defensible balance between respect for democracy and protection of individual rights.

Click here for details

Sylvia Walby: ‘The Future of Feminism’

Feminism is not dead. This is not a postfeminist era. Feminism is still vibrant, despite declarations that it is over. Feminism is a success, although many gender inequalities remain. Feminism is taking powerful new forms, which makes it unrecognisable to some.

In The Future of Feminism, Sylvia Walby offers a provocative riposte to the notion that feminism is dead. Substantiating her arguments with evidence of the vibrancy of contemporary feminism in civil society and beyond, she provides a succinct yet comprehensive critical review of recent treatments of feminism explaining why they have got it wrong.

The book provides the definitive account of feminism’s new and varied projects, goals, alliances and organizational forms, including feminism as a global wave. It offers engaged accounts of feminist activities across a range of domains in the economy, polity, violence and civil society. Successful feminist projects are not always named as feminist, sometimes being mainstreamed into coalitions with social democratic and global human rights activists. Feminism is now global, though also taking local forms, and these new coalitions are the basis for the future of feminism. On the future of feminism depends not only the future of gender inequality but the future of social inequality more generally.

Click here for details

The Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion – Annual Review

As well as giving a guide to CASE’s recent activities and publications, the review contains feature articles on several parts of their current and recent research including:

  • Employment and wage progression for mothers in low-skilled work
  • Poverty and concepts of relative deprivation
  • The effect of the Great Recession on income distribution
  • Climate change mitigation policy and social equity
  • Looking for jobs in high unemployment areas
  • Impacts of growing inequalities
  • Low pay in child care
  • Measuring fuel poverty

Click here to read the report

Evidence Dossier: Evaluation of the Equality Act 2010

In 2011, the EDF Research Network and EDF produced a dossier of evidence and research relating to equality to inform the Government’s evaluation of the Equality Act 2010.

The Network was commissioned by the Government Equalities Office to contribute to the Government’s ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of the Equality Act 2010 by collating and analysing research relevant to measures in the Act and on discrimination in general.

The findings of the project were published in a dossier to inform the Government’s evaluation and as a resource for academics and NGOs more widely.

Click here for link to dossier (pdf)

Click here for link to information on the Government Equalities Office website

Briefing: ‘Human rights and the Commission on a Bill of Rights’

In response to threats to the Human Rights Act 1998 and the establishment of the Commission on a Bill of Rights, the EDF Research Network set up a working group to provide equality and human rights organisations with accessible briefings and other materials.

A briefing on ‘Human rights and the Commission on a Bill of Rights’ was published in October 2011 to inform the policy and campaigning work of equality and human rights NGOs and enable them to respond to the Commission’s consultation.

Click here for briefing