Steve McCabe MP raises issue of irregularities in ESA assessments with Minister

Steve recently received information from a constituent relating to possible irregularities between the assessment of men and women who suffer from mental health issues; and their eligibility for ESA support.

Steve asked the Minister of State at the DWP to clarify the department's position. Please see the below links to the question and the Ministers' response.…


The blog which raises these concerns is the piece entitled 'Harder for Women':…/3026-25-february-2015-ne…


Until now there has been no difference in how men and women are assessed.

However, Benefits and Work can reveal that a new scoring system deliberately makes it harder for women to qualify for the support group than for men.

For example, a man with a diagnosis of depression and a history of deliberate self-harm who is unemployed – generally the case for ESA claimants – will be eligible for the support group, according to the guidance.

But a woman in the same situation will not be eligible for the support group. Instead, she will have to also show that an additional factor – such as being homeless or divorced –applies to her.

The gender difference is likely to be based on the fact that more males than females commit suicide.

Indeed, figures released by the Office for National Statistics just last week showed that suicide rates are now at their highest in over a decade and most of the increase is amongst men. Organisations such as Mind are linking the rise to benefits cuts.

However, many people would question whether a difference in suicide rates is sufficient to justify different treatment for men and women in relation to claiming benefits. This is particularly the case because substantial risk is not just about deliberate self-harm or suicide, but also about issues such as unintentional self-neglect.

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