Don Foster MP

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Medical assessment for disability benefits must be improved - Foster

September 12, 2023 by admin in News

Don Foster, MP for Bath has called on the Government to make much needed improvements in the way medical assessments for disability benefits are conducted.

In a letter to Chris Grayling MP, the Minister for Employment, Mr Foster outlines his concern at the number of Work Capability Assessment decisions that are overturned in appeal hearings. He suggested there was a “failing within the current system”.

Claimants for the Employment and Support Allowance are required to undertake the WCA. Introduced in 2008, the WCA is a computerised assessment run by Paris based IT company, Atos.

The letter reads as follows:

“While you will already be aware of the concerns expressed with regards to the assessment process, I however remain very concerned as to why so many decisions are overturned on appeal. In your letter you mentioned that decisions are overturned because the appeal panel often considers new evidence that was not previously available to earlier decision makers. This would suggest a failing within the current system and raises the question of why all relevant information is not accounted for at the start of the process.

Another issue of concern relates to the financial cost of not getting the decision right first time. The inefficiency within the current system draws attention to the matter of cost efficiency and whether the process in place is the most cost effective assessment to use.”

The DWP is currently running the second yearly review of the WCA and is asking for comments from claimants who have undertaken the assessment.


Notes to Editors

1 - The MS Trust estimates that on appeal, approximately 40% of WCA decisions are overturned

2 - The DWP consultation is open until 16 September 2011. You can respond using the response document or respond in your own way. You can send your responses or queries by email or post to:

WCA Independent Review Team
Floor 2, Section B
Caxton House
Tothill Street


September 9, 2023 by admin in News

Children may watch more UK originated children’s TV programmes and fewer American cartoons following intervention by Don Foster MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesman for Media. This may also increase investment in such home grown products.

The Liberal Democrats argue that UK made children’s programmes are not easily accessible on some televisions, while children’s programmes from other countries are becoming much more visible. This, combined with a downturn in UK children’s television making, means UK children are growing up watching far more foreign made television than ever before.

Speaking in parliament on Thursday, Don Foster argued that the position of programmes on TV Electronic Programme Guides (EPGs) affected the amount of viewing. He questioned a situation where “we allow some EPGs to have UK programme channels way down the list after all the American ones”.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt MP, agreed that the government will look at this crisis in UK children’s television and take legislative action if necessary.

Commenting afterwards, Don Foster said:

“Our children should be able to see programmes made here that are relevant to their lives, not just American cartoons.

“Adults fondly remember the classic UK made programmes they enjoyed when they were young. Our children are getting nothing but reruns and foreign imports that don’t reflect UK culture.”

“The Government’s has agreed to look at how we could promote children’s television better. It won’t fix the funding crisis in UK children’s programming, but with so many American cartoons swamping British televisions, it would be an important step.”


Notes to editors

The Liberal Democrats argue that easy access to UK children’s TV is being eroded by changes to channel menus (or “electronic programming guides” - EPGs). These changes are leaving CBeebies and CBBC, the only channels showcasing original UK children’s content, more and more difficult to find. On Sky’s EPG, for instance, the CBeebies and CBBC are listed after 12 US children’s channels.

This problem will only get worse as other platforms with unregulated EPGs develop. The Liberal Democrats argue that existing powers on EPGs, requiring that public service content be given “appropriate” prominence, need to be strengthened and updated. The Government’s Communications Review provides a good opportunity to update the rules on EPG prominence and give UK made public service content the right level of prominence on televisions.

Transcript of Don Foster’s question to the Jeremy Hunt, and Jeremy Hunt’s response:

Don Foster: The position on the TV electronic programming guide influences what we watch. Can the Secretary of State therefore explain why it is we allow a situation where though we want more of our children to watch more UK originated content than American cartoons we allow some EPG’s to have the American cartoons listed way above the British content?

Jeremy Hunt: My right honourable friend makes a very important point. Position on the EPG is probably going to be the single largest leaver the government has in protecting our tradition of public service broadcasting. We are actively looking at how to make this better, if necessary using legislation.

Don Foster backs impartial abortion counselling

September 7, 2023 by admin in News

Don Foster has today voted against Nadine Dorries’ amendment 1221 of the Heath and Social Care Bill. Foster has long championed the view that every woman has the right to impartial counselling advice.

The Amendment would have had the effect of preventing professional abortion services from offering valuable counselling.

Commenting Don Foster said, “What matters is the quality and independence of advice given to women who are seeking an abortion. Counsellors should stick to the facts to help women make their own decisions. We must ensure that women, in what can often be an extremely difficult and traumatic situation, have access to information and counselling that best meets their needs.

He continued, “This amendment would have prevented respectable organisations such as Marie Stopes from offering impartial counselling”.


Notes to editor:

The text of the amendment can be found here