Press release

Further improvements to fitness for work assessment made

Disabled people are to benefit from further changes to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) following an independent review.

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

Disabled people are to benefit from further changes to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) following an independent review of the assessment which looks at someone’s fitness for work, Employment Minister Chris Grayling announced today.

The changes, which will further improve the system’s fairness and effectiveness, are outlined in the second independent review by Professor Malcolm Harrington.

Chris Grayling today pledged to accept Professor Harrington’s recommendations and to further consult on how best to support people with cancer.

The second Harrington Review, published today, has made substantial recommendations, which have been reached after extensive consultation with health and disability groups, including:

  • Introducing checks on benefit decisions to ensure fairness and consistency
  • Working with disability groups to help develop guidance for Atos healthcare professionals and Decision Makers
  • Improved support and communications for people who move onto Jobseeker’s Allowance to make sure they get the help they need
  • Regularly publishing data on performance and quality to improve the transparency of the face-to-face assessment

Professor Harrington said:

My first review found that the WCA is the right concept, but that each part of the process was not working as well as it could or should. Since my last review the process has started giving people a more tailored and personal service.

This year I have worked alongside some key health and disability organisations to make further recommendations to improve the system, especially for people with mental health and fluctuating conditions.

I am confident that the changes being implemented are already making a real difference to people and will continue to do so.

Minister for Employment, Chris Grayling said:

It is in everyone’s interest to get the system right. We want the assessment to be as fair and consistent as possible. This is the first step on a journey back to work for many people and we want it to be positive.

The system is far better than it was two years ago but there are still improvements and refinements we can make.

We are committed to helping thousands of people move from benefits and back into 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.

The WCA is currently being used to assess the two million people who have been claiming Incapacity Benefit. The benefit closed to new claimants in 2008, meaning that everyone receiving it has done so for over two years with 900,000 having been on the benefit for more than a decade.

Currently DWP is contacting 11,000 claimants per week to ask them for a reassessment.

Published 24 November 2011