Employment Minister, Chris Grayling has announced that changes will be made to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which assesses whether someone is fit for work, to “iron out any problems and improve the system”.
The changes are outlined in an independent review by Professor Malcolm Harrington, who was asked by Ministers earlier in the year to look at the assessment and recommend improvements.
The Harrington Review includes evidence from health and disability groups and has made substantial recommendations which include how to better deal with the complexities of cases involving mental health and similar issues, strengthen the checks and balances in the system and how to improve communications and the level of support provided to those who undergo a WCA.
In response to the review Chris Grayling said:
“It’s unacceptable that so many people have been written off to a lifetime on benefits. We know that many of these people could and do want to work, but the current system doesn’t allow them to.
“The WCA should be seen as a positive first step towards returning to 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.”
The WCA is already being used to assess new claims for sickness benefits and from early next year will be used to assess all those on incapacity benefits, to see whether they are fit for work, need tailored help to get work ready, or require unconditional support.
Professor Harrington said:
“I have found that the WCA is not working as well as it should. However, this is not about ripping up the current system and starting all over again. So I am proposing a substantial series of recommendations to improve the fairness and effectiveness of the WCA.”