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JobCentres Withdraw Document That Told Claimants To Downplay Disabilities

October 10, 2019

Jobcentre chiefs have withdrawn a document on chronic illness after an outcry from disability campaigners.

The form asked claimants to describe their condition while avoiding words like “chronic” or “degenerating” – because they “sound worse than they are”.

It added people may want to “avoid terms such as depression, ME or low back pain etc and use more general terms” instead.

Disability campaigners said the “disgusting” wording “breaches our rights”, adding: “Our access needs can only be met by disabilities being properly noted”.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) today confirmed the document was being withdrawn after concerns were brought to their attention by the Mirror.

It has not been confirmed how many Jobcentres the form was used in, but sources insisted it was only in use in “one area”.

The full context or purpose of the form – which included a Jobcentre logo – was not clear from a version posted online by campaigners.

However, it had the same wording as a “positive health statement” circulated by the Dorset NHS trust and dated to 2013.

The NHS Trust described the form as a useful aid to “think how you can present yourself as someone living with a health condition in a positive way”, when applying for a job.

Labour’s Shadow Minister for Disabled People Marsha De Cordova raised the document in the Commons.

She said: “It cannot be right that the department is expecting disabled people to downplay their disability or health condition.”

It was raised by the campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts in Sheffield, who tweeted: “This needs to be addressed NOW and without delay.”

Addressing Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, the group said: “Withdraw this disgusting publication, which breaches our rights, from circulation NOW.

“Our access needs can only be met by Disabilities being properly noted.”

A DWP spokesman said: “This was well-intentioned local advice but has been withdrawn, as we would always encourage jobseekers to speak freely about a health condition or disability.

“The number of disabled people in work is at a record high and we are proud of the support we provide such as grants of nearly £60,000 for workplace adaptions under Access to Work.”

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