Press release

Fitness for work assessment continues to be improved

Ministers are on track to implement the recommendations of the recent Harrington Review of the Work Capability Assessment by the summer.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Ministers have said that they are on track to implement the recommendations of the recent Harrington Review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) by the summer, and that they are pressing ahead with changes to regulations which will mean people suffering from mental health problems or going through chemotherapy will be given more leeway in the review process

The Government is in the process of implementing the findings of two reviews, one carried out for the last Government, and a second comprehensive review of the whole process carried out by Professor Malcolm Harrington which recommended further changes.

The planned improvements include a much greater personalisation of the whole assessment process, and measures to provide additional safeguards to protect the most vulnerable current claimants of incapacity benefits. The Government will also ask assessors to take into account how well claimants have adapted to their conditions before judging whether or not they can be given specialist help to get back into work.

New regulations published today will enact some of these changes, by treating people who are waiting for or between courses of chemotherapy in the same way as those already receiving it, and also extend the criteria for people with severe disability due to mental health conditions, meaning fewer very sick people will be asked to attend an assessment.

Also published today is a report by the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC), and Ministers agree with their recommendations that more empathy, improved communications with claimants and better decision making will help improve the process.

That’s why the Government has subsequently accepted all the recommendations made by Professor Malcolm Harrington in his independent review of the WCA, and has also asked him to continue in his role as Independent Reviewer.

Minister for Employment Chris Grayling said:

Improving the WCA is central to our commitment to help thousands of people start the journey back to work.

It’s in everyone’s interest that we get the WCA right and that it’s seen as a positive first step towards work.

Those who are found fit for work will get the help and support they need to get a job. Those found too sick or disabled to work won’t be expected to and will continue to receive the help and support they need to lead fulfilling lives.

Notes to Editors:

Further details of both reviews can be found at:

Published 10 February 2011