Press release

Work Programme provides tailored support as latest figures show people are being found fit for work

Over a third (39 per cent) of those who claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are assessed as fit to work.

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

New statistics published by DWP today show that over a third (39 per cent) of those who claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are assessed as fit for work.  The figures also show that a further 17 per cent can do some work with the right help and support.

People who are found fit for work will now be supported through the new Work Programme, which rolled out across Britain last month. The Work Programme provides tailored support for people to get into sustained employment. People who are found too sick or disabled will continue to receive unconditional support and a higher rate of benefit.

DWP Minister Steve Webb said:

These figures show that many people are able to work with the right help. We have strengthened the support now available tailoring it to individual needs so they can overcome whatever barriers they face.

Those who cannot work will always receive our unconditional support but for those who can work it’s right that they get the help they need to get into employment.

We are continuously improving the medical test to ensure that it is as fair and effective as possible.

The Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which determines whether someone is fit for work, has been substantially improved - the majority of Professor Harrington’s recommendations are now in place. Changes have been made including making improvements to the decision making process. A second Independent Review of the WCA is now underway and will be published before the end of the year.

For all new ESA claims from 27th October 2008 to 30th November 2010, the result of the initial WCA is as follows

  • Support Group - 7%
  • Work Related Activity Group - 17%
  • Fit for Work - 39%
  • Claim closed before assessment complete - 36%
  • Assessment still in progress - 1%

Delivering the Work Programme private and voluntary sector organisations are investing £581m upfront in the biggest welfare to work programme this country has ever seen to provide tailored support built around the needs of individuals. Organisations will be paid by results and allowed to develop support that really addresses the needs of jobseekers.

Notes to Editors:

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

  1. The figures show that a third (36 per cent) of those who claim leave the benefit before completing the assessment.
  2. They also show that those who need ESA for a longer period get it, with 17% of new claims going into the Work Related Activity Group in ESA and 7% going into the Support Group.
  3. Professor Harrington’s first review proposed a series of recommendations to improve “its fairness and effectiveness” and we have now implemented nearly all of these recommendations.
  4. In May Professor Harrington provided an interim review of how well the Department had implemented his recommendations and concluded that “DWP have gone a long way towards implementing all the recommendations”.
  5. Professor Harrington is now undertaking a second Independent Review of the WCA, which will be published before the end of the year.
Published 26 July 2011