Work Capability Assessment – Government responds to 5th Independent Review

DWP has accepted the majority of the recommendations from the fifth Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

The final review, which was carried out by Dr. Paul Litchfield, was published in November 2014. Dr. Litchfield looked at the changes that had been made to the WCA in response to the first four reviews. Although he made some recommendations for further improvements, Dr. Litchfield said:

“My counsel would be to let the current WCA have a period of stability – it is by no means perfect but there is no better replacement that can be pulled off the shelf.”

Dr Litchfield made 28 recommendations and 26 have been accepted. These relate to a range of issues including: • An increase in the number of people being placed in the Support Group, especially younger people; • The need to ensure that communications are as good as they can be especially for more vulnerable claimants; • Better support for claimants with learning disabilities.

One of the recommendations from the fourth independent review was that DWP should make it clear that evidence from care professionals such as community psychiatric nurses, support workers and carers can prove extremely useful when deciding whether someone is entitled to Employment and Support Allowance. This is particularly the case if someone has a mental health condition.

Mental Health LogoAs a result DWP has improved the ESA50 questionnaire, which people complete when they claim ESA. DWP sought the views of disability organisations to help inform these changes. The revised ESA50 questionnaire will be issued from March.

The Government’s response to the fifth independent review is available at Focus on Disability

“Community support workers for people with mental health conditions/learning difficulties have been chopped left, right and centre through the millions of pounds slashed from county council budgets. Are we supposed to believe it will get better in todays fiscal climate? – I don’t think so”

Government responds to the independent review of PIP

Improving communications with claimants of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is just one of the recommendations from an independent review of the benefit that has been accepted by DWP.

Department of Work and PensionsPaul Gray was appointed to carry out the first of two independent reviews of PIP required by the 2012 Welfare Reform Act. Findings from the review were published in December 2014 and included 14 recommendations covering:

• Improving the claimant experience, particularly through clearer communications;

• Clarifying and improving the collection of further evidence to support assessments;

• Improving the overall effectiveness of the PIP assessment in delivering the policy intent.

DWP will respond in two stages. The initial response focuses on the review’s short-term recommendations, action that DWP is taking to address them and the wider work that is being done to support PIP claimants through the process.

Significant improvements have already been made to claimants’ experience of the PIP process, the delivery of the benefit and the length of time it takes to process individual claims.

The department has worked closely with the independent assessment providers, ATOS and Capita, to quadruple both the number of health professionals and decisions that were made each month during 2014.

DWP continues to work alongside disabled people and their representative organisations, particularly the PIP Implementation Stakeholder Forum Improvement Working Group, to consider its response to Paul Gray’s recommendations.

DWP intends to provide a full response to address the medium and long-term recommendations in due course. These require further consideration due to their broad scope and wider implications. This includes the recommendation by the Smith Commission to devolve disability benefits in Scotland.

The Government’s response to the PIP independent review is available at Focus on Disability

DWP – Touchbase March 2015

“All the reviews and rhetoric from Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP won’t help our vulnerable disabled people and those who had to find the ‘ultimate’ course of action to avoid the welfare reforms damaging effects.”