A new work testing regime has started for ill and disabled
people, but no-one has been referred in its first couple of
Under the new system, Work and Income can refer clients with
a health condition or disability for a work ability
assessment with one of 16 newly contracted providers.
Yesterday, CCS Disability Action chief executive David
Matthews said the organisation remained concerned about the
It had had reassurances, but wanted to see how it would work
Mr Matthews, of Wellington, was disappointed by the medical
background of the providers, because the organisation
preferred assessors with a disability background.
The focus should be on supporting the disabled into
employment, rather than an ''impersonal medical-based
assessment around capability''.
''You can assess people in terms of their capability for
work, but we also need to have jobs that people can move
Tests should be friendly and constructive and work in the
interests of the disabled rather than the system, he said.
A hugely controversial testing regime in the United Kingdom
caused ''chaos and churn'' for the disabled, and Mr Matthews
did not want to see anything similar in New Zealand.
The service began officially on February 24, although the
Ministry of Social Development was still finalising some of
the 16 contracts.
Work and Income national commissioner Carl Crafar said the
assessments would take a ''fresh look'' at a person's
strengths and abilities, and anything that ''may be stopping
them from working and what supports they may need''.
The tests would not be used to determine benefit eligibility.
Occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists and
rehabilitation nurses were among those who would provide
''Although we have had no referrals so far, we are on track.
Before making a referral, our staff need to decide if a work
ability assessment is the most appropriate step, or if some
of Work and Income's other services may be more useful for a
particular client,'' Mr Crafar said.