Improvements to Work Capability Assessment making "a Real Difference" says Hoban

Figures published today by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that nearly three in ten people being assessed for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are now getting unconditional support – compared to just 10 per cent three years ago.

The latest figures taken from the quarterly ’Employment and Support Allowance: Outcomes of Work Capability Assessments’, reveal that 27 per cent of people were put in the Support Group, meaning they received unconditional support as they are considered too ill or disabled to work. This is a 1 per cent increase from the previous quarter, and more than double the figure of 10-11% from December 2008 to May 2010.

52 per cent of those assessed were found to be fit for work and were referred to Jobcentre Plus or onto the Work Programme for employment support.

Outcomes of completed initial assessments of claims started in the period from March to May 2012 shows:

  • 48 per cent of claimants were entitled to ESA. Within this -
    • 21 per cent of claimants were placed in the Work Related Activity Group, and
    • 27 per cent of claimants were placed in the Support Group;
  • 52 per cent of claimants were assessed as Fit For Work

Mark Hoban, the minister for employment, said:

“Getting the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) right first time is my absolute priority. Those who are fit should work, but those who aren’t need real support. Today’s figures show that the improvements we have made since 2010 are making a real difference.

“Whether it’s improving the way people with cancer are assessed, making sure we get people’s medical evidence as early as possible, or refining the assessment of people with mental health problems, I am committed to continually improving the system.

“Having a fair and accurate assessment is fundamental to ensuring that those who are able to work get the help they need, and those who are too sick or disabled are fully supported.”


Between October 2008 and November 2011, DWP made over 1.25 million decisions on new ESA claims following a WCA. Of those decisions:

  • Around 742,000 people were found fit for work
  • 39% of people who were found fit for work appealed the decision
  • 37% of those appeals were successful
  • Therefore the Tribunal overturned 15% of all fit for work decisions

The full quarterly statistics, ‘Employment and Support Allowance: Outcomes of Work Capability Assessments, Great Britain - new claims’, can be read here

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