Why are we taking action against Pinnacle People?
Following drastic changes to the social security system introduced since 2009, sick and disabled people have faced a harsh test – the Work Capability Assessment – designed to throw them off benefits and force them to sign on. Those found unfit to work (many on appeal) are placed in one of two groups entitled to the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The support group is for those not expected to recover sufficiently to earn a living. The work related group is supposed to prepare sick and disabled people to ‘return to work’.
Despite the protection given to sick people on ESA under the law, it has come to light that Pinnacle People (who have the lucrative contract to conduct work-focused interviews for those in the work related activity group), are pressurising ESA claimants into doing job searches, under the supposed threat of sanctions.
Work related activity consists of volunteering, courses and so on, to make sick people ‘employable’. It does not include an obligation on them to look for work. The law states that people on work related ESA ‘may not be required to look for work’. This means they should not be required to do so, rather than they might not.
Benefit advisers have also reported that people have been made physically and mentally more ill by this incessant and unlawful pressure. Some ESA claimants have actually been asked to do more than healthy JSA claimants!
The bullying of sick and disabled people must stop. Figures just released show that thousands have died after being put through the WCA, and many have ended in destitution or even suicide. The system is not fit for purpose.
Benefits for those unable to earn a living through sickness or disability should return to being based on the reports of claimants’ own doctors or specialists. Private providers like Pinnacle People must not be allowed to make a fortune from poverty. And benefits must not be conditional – they are intended for our needs, not a reward.