The Benefit System, The Regions, Welfare to Work, Work Capability Assessment

– Report on ESA Reassessment Published by DWP

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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