Press release

Government presses ahead with reforms as people continue to be found fit for work

Three-quarters of people who apply for ESA are found either fit for work or stop their claim before completing their medical assessment.

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

Latest statistics released today show that three-quarters of people who apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are continuing to be found either fit for work or stop their claim before completing their medical assessment.

The figures not only highlight the urgent need to reform the welfare system, but also why Ministers are right to press ahead with the reassessment of those on old style incapacity benefits which was rolled out across the country last month.

The Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which determines whether someone is fit for work, has also been substantially improved - the majority of Professor Harrington’s recommendations are now in place with the remainder being implemented by summer to coincide with the first WCAs of incapacity benefit claimants taking part in the full nationwide reassessment.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:

Once again we have clear evidence of the need for change in our welfare system. We now know very clearly that the vast majority of new claimants for sickness benefits are in fact able to return to work. That’s why we are turning our attention to existing claimants, who were simply abandoned on benefits.

That’s why we are reassessing all of those claimants, and launching the Work Programme to provide specialist back to work support. We will, of course, carry on providing unconditional support to those who cannot work, but for those who can it’s right and proper that they start back on the road to employment.

For all new ESA claims from 27th October 2008 to 31st August 2010, the result of the initial WCA is as follows (proportions do not sum exactly to 100% due to rounding):

  • Support Group - 6%
  • Work Related Activity Group - 16%
  • Fit for Work - 39%
  • Claim closed before assessment complete - 36%
  • Assessment still in progress - 2%

Note to Editors:

  1. The full Employment and Support Allowance: Work Capability Assessments statistics are available here:
Published 27 April 2011