Professor Malcolm Harrington Disabled film-maker and Kate Ansell directed last nights BBC 2 Panorama about Employment Support Allowance and the controversial assessment used to determine if people are entitled to receive it.


The programme shown last night investigates the government’s plans to end the so-called ‘sick note culture’ and their attempts to get millions of people off disability benefits and into work. In Britain’s modern welfare state, millions are being paid to private companies to assess sick and disabled claimants but is the system working? Or are new tests wrongly victimising those who deserve support the most?

As most disabled people know, Employment Support Allowance was introduced in 2008 to replace Incapacity Benefit, and all 2.6 million IB claimants are in the process of being migrated across to ESA.  Officially, a central reason for the change is that many people have claimed IB for a decade or more, and no one has ever asked them if they want to or can return to work.  In practice, with almost a third of IB claimants who have been reassessed being found ‘Fit For Work’, many have wondered if this is instead an exercise in getting disabled people off benefit in a time of recession.

Let us know your thoughts on this programme and this issues it brought to light.