UK Government

Department for Work And Pensions: Welfare Reform – Fewer people left behind in this recession

Press Release   •   Jan 20, 2010 11:15 GMT

A new test which focuses on what people can do rather than what they can't is keeping more people seeking work, new figures show today. Thousands of people are now moving towards work rather than being left to claim sickness benefit.

The latest figures for the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) show where someone is fit for work or should get help through the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

From October 2010, customers claiming Incapacity Benefit or Income Support on incapacity grounds will be moved onto Employment and Support Allowance.

Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper said:

“We want to make sure that people who are able to work get the support they need to get a job, and don’t get stuck on long term sickness benefits as they did in previous recessions.”

Minister for Disabled People Jonathan Shaw said:

"The Work Capability Assessment looks at what people can do, rather than what they can't, to give them the support they need to get back to work and avoid ending up on long-term sickness benefits. For those who cannot work, they will receive additional support and help.

"This is a relatively new process, but we are very grateful to have had disability organisations and charities involved in the consultation process and the development of the programme from the very start.

"We are currently reviewing it to see where improvements and changes need to be made to ensure that it is working as it should be."

The stats show that of the 352,500 new claims to Employment and Support Allowance made between 27th October 2008 and 31st May 2009:

- 5 per cent have been assessed by the WCA as suitable for the ESA Support Group
- 12 per cent have been assessed as suitable for the ESA Work Related Activity Group
- 38 per cent have been assessed as fit for work
- the remaining 45 per cent either left ESA before completing the assessment or the assessment is still in progress.

Some customers who are found fit for work move onto Jobseekers Allowance. Those who have a health condition or disability may have a more limited availability and scope to actively search for work. Therefore, they are able to, with the agreement of their Jobcentre Plus Personal Adviser, restrict their availability for work provided those restrictions are reasonable given their condition.

Notes to editors

1) The Work Capability Assessment statistics can be found at: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/workingage/esa_wca.asp

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