Bishop of St Albans – Work Capability Assessment (Written Answer)

On 25th November 2014, the Bishop fo St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer from the Depatment of Work and Pensions on the Work Capability Assessment.

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether people who are undergoing a work capability assessment because of mental health problems are guaranteed assessment by health professionals who have psychiatric expertise.[HL2851]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): All healthcare professionals who carry out work capability assessments on behalf of the DWP are fully trained in disability assessment and are registered with their respective Regulatory Body. Healthcare professionals receive comprehensive training in the functional effects of mental health conditions. In addition all health professionals are supported by mental function champions who have specialist knowledge of mental health conditions and provide support and best practice advice.


Bishop of St Albans raises concerns about Work Capability Assessment

On 5th November 2014, Lord McAvoy asked Her Majesty’s Government how many people were awaiting a Work Capability Assessment on the latest date for which figures are available. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, great concern has been expressed by some people about how work capability assessments are being carried out and whether those undertaking them have the right skills and expertise. Indeed, in one anecdotal case, the health professional who undertook a complex mental health assessment was a physiotherapist. If that is the case, surely it cannot be right. What are Her Majesty’s Government doing to ensure that those undertaking the assessments have the right skills and experience to be able to do them properly?

Lord Freud: The important thing about doing these assessments is that someone assesses correctly in terms of capability of performing functions and capability of working; that is, what people are able to do. As I said earlier, we have more specialist professional support going into the system to make sure that those assessments are done accurately.


Written Questions – Disabled Students’ Allowances

On 14th July 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received answers to two written questions, on the subject of Disabled Students’ Allowances.

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government which criteria they will use, under the proposed changes to the Disabled Students’ Allowance, to distinguish between the need for higher specification or higher cost computers where a student needs one by virtue of their disability, as opposed to a need because of the way in which a course is delivered.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The criteria for determining when Disabled Student Allowances (DSAs) will contribute to the cost of higher specification or higher cost computers will be set out in guidance that will be published alongside the appropriate regulations in the autumn. Support under DSAs will continue to be available if the need for a higher specification or higher cost computer is by virtue of the student’s disability, rather than how the course is being delivered by the Higher Education Institution (HEI). If access to a higher specification or higher cost computer is essential to all students on that course, regardless of whether they are disabled or not, then provision of such computers would be a matter for the HEI.

Continue reading “Written Questions – Disabled Students’ Allowances”

Bishop of Carlisle raises concerns about health inequalities for people with learning disabilities

“Even when all the other factors have been taken into account, the disparity in mortality between people with and without learning difficulties is alarming” – Bishop of Carlisle, 12/6/14

On 12th June, the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Hollins: ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to address the health inequalities found by the Confidential Inquiry into Premature Deaths of People with Learning Disabilities’. The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Rev James Newcome, who is the lead CofE bishop for healthcare issues, spoke in the debate. He highlighted the need for greater monitoring of the causes of health inequalities for those with learning disabilities, better training for health professionals and improved advocacy and service design, especially to involve patients.

14.06.09 Bishop of Carlisle

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, in this debate we are asking Her Majesty’s Government to do three things. The first is to recognise the situation that currently exists, as we have heard, with regard to people with learning disabilities. It has been pointed out that the situation is one of considerable inequality. Continue reading “Bishop of Carlisle raises concerns about health inequalities for people with learning disabilities”

Bishop of Lichfield calls for greater support of vulnerable young people in preventing suicide

The Bishop of Lichfield spoke during Lord Eames’ debate on reducing the levels of suicide among young people in the United Kingdom. He focused his remarks on the relationship between low levels of self-worth amongst young people as a factor that contributes to suicidal thoughts. He also raised particular concerns about the risks of bullying or coercion that young people with disabilities face, specifically as debates about assisted suicide become more widespread, and the need to support children who are refugees or asylum seekers and particularly vulnerable due to a lack of adequate mental health care.

The Lord Bishop of Lichfield: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, for initiating this debate.

The Association for Young People’s Health recently published its key data on adolescence. At present, the statistics show that the levels of self-harm are relatively stable, although for such a sensitive topic there is likely to be low reporting. It is clear that girls are at least three times more likely to self-harm than boys; on the other hand, suicide is much more prevalent among young males, particularly those aged between 20 and 24. This coincides with the evidence from ChildLine. Numbers have fallen fractionally in more recent years but the report questions whether this will continue.

How this correlates with child well-being needs careful consideration. We all remember the United Nations report about the unhappiness of children in this country. ChildLine reports that the number of children contacting it about suicidal feelings has risen for the third year running, including a rise of 33% in the last year. Overall, child well-being in the UK, according to the United Nations, has improved from 21st out of 21 to 16th out of 29 countries. Economic reasons have been stated and there is much correlation with the commentary from the Association for Young People’s Health. Continue reading “Bishop of Lichfield calls for greater support of vulnerable young people in preventing suicide”

Votes – Children and Families Bill

On 9th and 17th December 2013, a number of bishops took part in votes to amend the Government’s Children and Families Bill, during the bill’s Report Stage. 

House of Lords Division Lobby
House of Lords Division Lobby

Continue reading “Votes – Children and Families Bill”

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