21 January 2011

The government has confirmed that it is to go ahead with introducing the much harsher new work capability assessment on 31 March 2011, in time for the forced removal of claimants from incapacity benefit. (see:  Even harsher new ESA medical approved)

Confirmation of the change came in reply to a written question from Lisa Nandy, Labour MP for Wigan. Nandy asked the secretary of state for work and pensions if he would defer introduction of the new test until he had looked at recommendations for changes to the mental health test made to Professor Harrington by a group of mental health charities.  (See: Charities propose changes to ESA – but would they make matters worse?)

Replying, on 20 January, Chris Grayling made it clear that there would be no deferral and that the DWP regards any changes to the mental health test as being part of next year’s review by Professor Harrington.  Grayling stated that:

“We are grateful to Professor Harrington who has agreed to take forward the next annual review of the WCA. He will start work immediately on the programme of work he has identified, to look in detail at the descriptors for mental health and other fluctuating conditions. We look forward to receiving the results of this work. We are committed to a process of ongoing review and improvement of the WCA and believe that it would be inappropriate to delay implementation of other pertinent recommendations while we await additional recommendations.”

Visit this thread to try the new WCA online.

Grayling’s full answer is available here.


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