What is the Work Capability Assessment?
If you are applying for Employment and Support Allowance because you can't work due to sickness or disability, and you aren't getting Statutory Sick Pay, you may be asked to take a WCA.
The idea behind a WCA is to see how much your illness or disability affects your ability to work.
What are the issues with the Work Capability Assessment?
The assessment was initially too focused on physical capability, meaning that people with mental ill health, learning disabilities and fluctuating health conditions were often marked as fit to work.
Whilst the WCA is gradually becoming more effective, we believe there are many improvements that can still be made.
What we have been doing about it
Our Employment Advisers support people who have been found fit for work or suitable for work related activity. We regularly speak to our Advisers and to the people they support to find out what their experiences are. We then use these findings to respond to Government consultations on the Work Capability Assessment and to issue open letters on the issue.
In 2013, we submitted a response to Dr Paul Litchfield's fourth year review of the Assessment. These independent reviews look at how well the system is working and how it can be improved. Papworth Trust heard many cases where a person had been granted Employment and Support Allowance at appeal, only to be told they have to undergo another WCA a few months later. This led us to call for the Government to ensure that a person's reassessment period begins from their appeal date, not from their initial assessment.
Fifth independent review
Most recently, we responded to the fifth and final review of the Assessment. We heard from our Advisers that the WCA is not differentiating between claimants who should be in the Support Group or the Work Related Activity Group. In our response we also called for people to continue to be paid Employment Support Allowance during the mandatory reconsideration phase as it has caused significant difficulties for people with rent arrears and debt.