Posts Tagged ‘work capability assessment’

Man dies after Work Capability Assessment declares him fit for work

The Derbyshire Times is reporting…that there are calls for the Government to improve work capability assessments after a man declared ‘fit to work’ died a month later.

Stephen Hill, 53, of Duckmanton, died in December of a heart attack. The dad-of-two had suffered heart problems for and was awaiting major heart surgery but following a ten-minute medical examination on November 17 he was deemed well enough to work….

Read the full story here


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The Times & Telegraph report of a backlog in the benefits system

The Times & The Daily Telegraph have reported today that the backlog of appeals by welfare claimants against the removal of their benefits is now long enough that the government has had to hire 84 new judges to deal with it.

Both the Times and the Telegraph write that for the first time extra posts have been needed since 2007, when only ten Social Entitlement Chamber judges were recruited to oversee welfare appeals. In recent months 84 have been hired to help to deal with the caseload, at a pro-rata salary of £101,000 per year.

Under the programme to check whether all 2.6 million people on incapacity benefit are actually fit to work about 11,000 claimants a week are being reassessed. Judges have warned about the growing queue of people appealing against being taken off benefits.

In 2010-11 the number of appeals in the Social Entitlement Chamber, where welfare appeals are heard, were 23 per cent higher than the preceding year and 72 per cent up on 2008-09.


On one level it is clearly showing that the government is serious about reform and that it is having a real affect. Others will argue however that this shows that the government is getting it seriously wrong

…….maybe the truth is somewhere between these two stools… no pun intended

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DWP statistical release: Work Capacity Assessments

The latest official statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions reveal there has been an increase in the number of Employment and Support Allowance claimants going into the support group. For ministers, this indicates that the changes the Government made to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) are making a difference and more people are getting long term unconditional support.

For all new ESA claims from 30th October 2008 to 28th February 2011, the result of the initial Work Capacity Assessment is as follows:

  • Support Group – 7%
  • Work Related Activity Group – 17%
  • Fit for Work – 38%
  • Claim closed before assessment complete – 36%
  • Assessment still in progress – 2%

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:

“We are seeing an increase in the number of severely disabled people being given long-term unconditional support, which shows that our reforms to the work capability assessment are starting to work.
“However, it’s clear that the majority of new claimants to sickness benefits are in fact able to return to work. For those that need additional help our new Work programme is up and running and will tailor support to people’s needs so that they can overcome whatever barriers they face.”

Changes have been made to the Work Capability Assessment include simplifying the language of the criteria, making greater provision for people awaiting courses of chemotherapy and people with certain communication and mental health problems, as well as taking greater account of how an individual has adapted to their condition or disability.

Read the statistical release summary

Read the full statistical release

Click here for the tables


Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

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Mr Grayling was giving evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee about the government’s efforts to move more people off incapacity benefit and its successor – Employment and Support Allowance – if they are capable of work.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling has denied claims the government had helped fuel press coverage labelling benefit claimants as “workshy”.

He told MPs that tabloid stories had left him “bemused” and he had been criticised for saying people should not be judged as “scroungers”.

But MPs told him there had been a “shocking” failure by ministers to sell welfare reforms as a good news story.

Labour’s Glenda Jackson said it had been sold as “attacking the workshy”.

Mr Grayling said that many people had been effectively abandoned on benefits and the aim of the WCA was to identify those who could return to work.

 “This is not about forcing people who can’t work into work.”

The Minister was challenged about press releases from the Department for Work and Pensions – and media coverage of the reforms which suggested many of those on incapacity benefit were “workshy”.

Ms Jackson asked him: “Why has the government sold this programme, or attempted to sell this programme, as attacking the workshy?… This has had a very serious impact on people out there.”


Committee chairman Dame Anne Begg said the DWP press release had stated that 70% of claimants “could work” – without stressing that 30% were eligible for Jobseekers Allowance and would require extra help to get ready for work and 40% “might be fit for work some time in the future – if they get better”.


Mr Grayling said neither he, nor Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, had used disparaging terms such as “scroungers” .

“We as ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions go out of our way to set out what we are doing in the context of helping people… and we don’t use some of the language that has been used on some outlets.”

He said he had gone to some lengths to stress the positive aspects of the plan – writing articles for newspapers, letters to local newspapers, webchats and meetings with voluntary groups and Jobcentre teams.

“Sometimes stories run in a way that completely bemuse me,” he said.

“The challenge for us, through the assessment process, is to re-energise those people and focus them on the things they can do.”

But he also said there was a “duty on the party of representative groups” – like charities – not to use “strong language” which could exacerbate concerns.

He said that he hoped that as the welfare reforms began to take effect, there would be more positive “role models” of people who had been long-term unemployed and had got back into work, who could help ease concerns among others.


Chris Collins

Business Development

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Trial Incapacity Benefits Reassessment:  Customer and Staff Views and Experiences

Yesterday the Department for Work and Pensions reported on the initial outcomes of the reassessment of ESA claims.  The trail, conducted in Aberdeen and Burnley, looked at reworking the current assessment for those on Incapacity Benefit and Income Support due to disability, with 90 claimants being interviewed over the process.  Jobcentre Plus staff and healthcare professionals involved in administering work capability assessments were also interviewed to ascertain the effectiveness and viability of the new assessment process:

Customers reported feeling the revised assessment was less thorough than previous incapacity examinations,

  • It failed to register variable conditions
  • Concerns about the attitudes of the healthcare professions conducting the assessments.
  • Doctors and nurses viewed the reassessment of current claimants as a far longer process than those of new ESA claims.
  • Despite the informative telephone calls and secondary letter, however, healthcare professionals said that substantial amount of time was spent explaining the reassessment process.  However, fewer claimants missed their medical check.

There was some discrepancy regarding the decision-making protocol as one delivery site insisted on a full audit trail and further investigation from Atos Healthcare, whereas the other site used superseding evidence to overrule WCA recommendations.

Greater scrutiny will be needed by DWP as JCP and Atos staff also questioned the feasibility of the changes being brought in nationwide, commenting on the level of time and effort teams have had to dedicate to the trial.

Currently, reassessment for ESA has three possible outcomes for claimants:

  1. Fit for work – claimants are therefore deemed ineligible for ESA are usually referred to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  2. Eligible for ESA but placed in Work Related Activity Group (WRAG), where claimants receive support and are expected to prepare return to employment
  3. Claimants who have a condition(s) whereby they cannot return to employment and are placed in an ESA Support Group, where they are not obliged to undertake any work-related activity.

In October of last year, the DWP reported that 39% of new claimants were deemed fit for work under the revised Work Capability Assessment.

Read the report HERE

Website:  DWP

Kuki Taylor


Research & Communications Officer

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Wednesday’s Guardian ran an interesting piece on Atos and their administration of  the Work Capability assessment…

Is Atos being treated unfairly I wonder…..?

Read the very very long article….. HERE

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WCA reforms to be introduced this summer


Recommendations made by Professor Malcolm Harrington to improve work capability assessment (WCA) are on schedule to be delivered with the Work Programme this summer.  Professor Harrington’s report published in November 2010 included evidence from disability charities and individuals familiar with employment support for disabled people.


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.”

By this summer people with long term health problems, such as cancer patients and those with severe mental health problems will not be forced into taking regular assessments. As it stands, cancer patients between courses of chemotherapy are required to undertake WCA, however, the DWP has confirmed that discrepancies between those receiving and those waiting to receive chemotherapy will be halted.


Read more


Kuki Taylor

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