Press release

Latest figures show the vast majority of people being found fit for work

Three-quarters of people applying for the new Employment and Support Allowance programme (ESA) are being found fit for work after medical.

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


Three-quarters of people applying for the new Employment and Support Allowance programme (ESA) are being found fit for work after undergoing the Work Capability Assessment or stop their claim before they complete their medical assessment, according to official statistics published today. 

The official findings come as the Government presses ahead with its programme of reassessing those on the old style incapacity benefit (IB), which began in Burnley and Aberdeen earlier this month, and rolls out across the country next year.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling:

With over two million people trapped on incapacity benefits, these figures underline how important it is that we make sure everyone who has the potential to work gets the right help to move off benefits and into a job.

However, I am determined that we get the medical assessment right, which is why Professor Malcolm Harrington is undertaking an independent review in consultation with a number of charities representing disabled people and those with mental health issues. I am more than happy to take onboard any serious suggestions for changing the assessment as I want it to be as near to perfect as we can be.

This is not about pushing the sick and disabled into jobs but giving those that can work the help to do so and those that can’t more, not less, support.

For new ESA claims from October 2008 to February 2010, the breakdown is:

  • Support Group (for those who cannot work now or in the foreseeable future and need unconditional support) - 6%
  • Work Related Activity Group (for those who cannot work now but with the right help could work in the foreseeable future) - 15%
  • Fit for Work - 39%
  • Claim closed before assessment complete or assessment still in process- 39%

Ministers have already made changes to the way the Work Capability Assessments recognise people suffering from mental health conditions and those with cancer.

Note to Editors:

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

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Published 26 October 2010