The government has begun a consultation on changing the work capability assessment (WCA) to make it much harder to be found to have Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity (LCWRA) or to be in the support group of ESA.  Benefits and Work is urging claimants to take part in the consultation, which lasts until 30 October.

The proposals are set out in a document entitled ‘Work Capability Assessment: Activities and Descriptors Consultation’

Any changes would require amendments to primary legislation, which would happen in 2024.  There would also need to be changes to assessment providers’ IT systems, which means the actual introduction of a revised WCA would not happen until 2025.

These proposals are separate from the plan to entirely abolish the WCA from no earlier than 2026/27 for new claimants and 2029 for existing claimants.

Once a new WCA is introduced, any changes would affect new claimants and also existing UC and ESA claimants when their award is reviewed.

The main changes being proposed are to four of the current WCA activities and the vital ‘substantial risk’ rule.

Mobilising
The mobilising descriptor  concerns ‘Mobilising unaided by another person with or without a walking stick, manual wheelchair or other aid’ and also going up or down two steps.

At the moment a person who cannot mobilise more than 50 metres scores 15 points and will also be found to have LCWRA.

The government are suggesting three options for change:

  • remove the Mobilising activity entirely (both LCW and LCWRA)
  • amend the LCWRA Mobilising descriptor to bring it in line with the equivalent descriptor in PIP - replacing 50 metres with 20 metres for both descriptors within the LCWRA activity
  • reduce the points awarded for the LCW Mobilising descriptors.

Absence or loss of bowel/bladder control
At the moment, a claimant who loses control of their bladder or bowel at least once a month will score 15 points and have LCW but will not be found to have LCWRA.  Instead, they will need to show that the loss of control happens once a week to have LCWRA.

The government are suggesting three options for change:

  • remove the Absence or loss of bowel/bladder control (Continence) activity entirely (both LCW and LCWRA)
  • amend the LCWRA Absence or loss of bowel/bladder control (Continence) descriptor so that claimants are required to experience symptoms ‘daily’ rather than ‘weekly’
  • reduce the points awarded for the LCW Absence or loss of bowel/bladder control (Continence) descriptors

Coping with Social Engagement due to cognitive impairment or mental disorder
If you can never engage in social contact, this leads to a score of 15 points, which will also result in you being found to have LCWRA.

The government are suggesting two options for change:

  • remove the Coping with Social Engagement activity entirely (both LCW and LCWRA)
  • reduce the points awarded for LCW descriptors for Coping with Social Engagement

Getting About 
This activity concerns getting to places outside the your home without having someone accompany you.  If you can’t even get to familiar places then you score 15 points and will be found to have LCW.  However, this activity cannot lead to you being found to have LCWRA.

The government are suggesting two options for change:

  • remove the Getting About activity entirely
  • reduce the points awarded for LCW descriptors for Getting About

Substantial risk
The substantial risk rule applies if there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of anyone if you were found not to have LCWRA.   This is often the only way that people with severe mental health conditions, including those at risk of self-harm, can enter the LCWRA group.

The government are suggesting two options for change:

  • Remove the rule entirely, so anyone who is at risk would be placed in the LCW group instead where they may be subject to sanctions.
  • Alter the rule so that it would not apply where a person could take part in tailored or a minimal level of work preparation activity and/or where reasonable adjustments could be put in place to enable that person to engage with work preparation.

Cost-cutting
The DWP claim that the changes are intended to take account of the way that the world of work has changed, especially since the pandemic, with more opportunities to work from home.  The logic is that if claimants don’t have to travel or mix with other people then they will be able to manage their health conditions at home whilst also earning a living.

Therefore, they argue, by keeping people in the LCWRA group, where they do not have to prepare for work, they are preventing them from getting the support they need to return to work and thus harming their life-chances.  Or as the DWP put it:

“It is not right that so many people are left without support, and we must not hold people back from opportunity.”

The DWP’s way of giving more people opportunity is to take away the additional £390 a month they receive in the LCWRA group and subjecting them to the threat of sanctions.

Because this proposal is, in reality, a huge and potentially deadly cost-cutting exercise.

If the government simply wanted to help more people attempt to work, they could easily do so just by guaranteeing a safe return to existing levels of benefits for anyone who tried working but was unable to sustain it.  Support could be offered to prepare for work without any threat to benefits.

In addition, many of the proposed cuts will not affect LCWRA.  Instead, they reduce the chances of being found to have LCW.  This means that disabled claimants will simply be treated as ordinary claimants with no protection at all against a savage sanctions regime and will potentially get less, rather than more, support with moving back into work.

Labour to the rescue?
Many commentators are suggesting that these changes will never happen because of the strong probability that Labour will be in power before they are introduced.

But there are big question marks over how willing Labour is to be seen to be supporting sick and disabled claimants.

Moreover, if the Conservatives include any savings from these changes in their spending plans, it places Labour in a difficult position.  If Labour say they will not implement any changes, they will consider themselves obliged to say where they will get the cash from to cover what will now be the additional cost of keeping the WCA as it is.

Taking cash from another budget to cover welfare payments seems likely to be something Labour will be particularly reluctant to do.

Take part in the consultation
Many readers will be extremely sceptical about the value of taking part in a consultation, believing that the DWP will already have made up its mind what it is going to do.

That may be true, but to build any real opposition to measures which could undoubtedly be life-threatening for some claimants, it’s vital that the DWP cannot claim there is broad support for the proposals.  And if there is a sufficiently ferocious response, it may dissuade the DWP for going for the most extreme options it has outlined in the consultation.

Details of the consultation are available from this page:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/work-capability-assessment-activities-and-descriptors

The page includes a link to a very basic online form you can use to respond.  We can’t provide the link, because each one is unique, but you’ll find it immediately under the heading:  Ways to respond.

You can also email your response to:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

There are going to be some virtual events “to seek the views of disabled people and their representatives” and five face-to-face stakeholder events at the following locations:

  • Birmingham - Wednesday 20 September 2023
  • Leeds - Wednesday 27 September 2023
  • Edinburgh - Thursday 5 October 2023
  • Cardiff - Wednesday 11 October 2023
  • London - Wednesday 18 October 2023

There are more details on how to apply to take part under the heading stakeholder events on the consultation page.

We’d be pleased to hear in the comments below from anyone who takes part in the consultation.

Visit our WCA Changes Latest News page for updates on what's happening to the WCA.

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Kate · 5 months ago
    Again a government out of touch. Again disabled and sick people being targeted for savings so that the rich can have tax cuts.
    The more sick people forced into inappropriate employment means breakdown of mental health. Ending in more costs to the NHS in treatment of anxiety depression and increasing suicide or suicidal thoughts. 
    How many employers will be willing to take on people with special requirements in the workplace??
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    Joanne · 5 months ago
    I just think they are targeting people who’ as illnesses and it’s just so unfair it’s easy for the government as they have money if we was brought up with money then it would be so easy for us to say the same let’s face it the government waste money and even doing it this way we will still have the problem as the government even spends god knows how much on pizzas we know this through lock down so why have we got to pay for them 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Akire · 5 months ago
    Thanks for this just finishing mine. If they remove all the options they are considering that people who can’t communicate socially, who soil themselves but only three times a week. Who can’t move by themselves even from chair to chair. Whose slightest amount of stress could trigger a mental flair up would be fine all good fit for work! I thought the pick up a coin, raise one arm once were bad enough to be considered as work capable!
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    CC · 5 months ago
    Why is there no option to "do nothing", its clearly a forced financial saving exercise, disgusting.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Lee · 6 months ago
    I will end up violent as my entire lifestyle would alter and place me into situations in which I would struggle to cope mentally. The result being an increased risk to myself, wife and others. Should kill me off now. I'd be happier than trying to navigate such a regime. They removed the substantial risk rule in 1997 but had a separate clause that could be called upon. Instead this new change would leave many more people at risk than just the mentally disabled they are affecting. How do they thing mental conditions are mitigated when someone doesn't go to work due to risk of harm, do they believe these conditions are simply silent and remain so while not in work. I'm sure nobody of any aptitude has looked at any of these considerations. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Elizabeth Rackin · 6 months ago
    I’m appalled at the way in which “public servants” serve party political ends using public funds to prevent those in need from accessing the support they need. Those of us who pay taxes do so willingly because we hope to ensure that a strong safety net is in place at all times. It is horribly ironic that those who spend the most money getting advice on tax avoidance and squirrelling profits away in tax free havens are the same people who shout loudest about “scroungers” and the need for “tighter controls”. I despise them with a passion. They lie to us, spend their time trying to sow division and distrust between us when they are the scroungers who are ripping us off. They need to be controlled. They need to be forced to pay tax commensurate with their profits. Never vote Tory. And keep a very beady eye on Starmer’s Labour too because nothing much will change if he is elected PM. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    SBlu · 6 months ago
    Utterly heartless. This has nothing to do with helping disabled people back into work - what are we meant to do - go and work at amazon or in a bar? It only serves to stigmatise us even more than we already are - as though we are feckless. Our lives are already limited  and this government are intent on making us feel even more marginalised and, in my view, attempting to turn the rest of society against us. I don’t know who wrote the script for all of this but they should be completely ashamed - just vile! 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    ScottishDisabledPerson · 6 months ago
    Had a bad accident at work in 1985 in a British shipyard, that broke my back when I was only 23 and have not worked since, I was given 30% disability for life one of the highest awards ever for that kind of injury and now worked since, been on morphine the entire time.

    At 21 I was raped by another male after slipping me a Micky so suffer from complex PTSD for over 40 years, had so many superb attempts at suicide, guess It's just not my time to go.

    Now got post infective colitis, Type 2, and severe neuropathy that affects my feet limbs and hands.

    These born with silver spoons in their gobs and multimillionaire types of politicians will NEVER get it, they are NOT there for our benefits but for their OWN, they only want to gain even more wealth!

    In 1985, I was earning 32k PA that dropped to 7k on sickness benefits my past skill level would now fetch over 120k when It's now on 12k being sick and disabled is not my or would be a life choice for anyone else it's a necessity.

    I have a IQ of 220 I am not thick or lazy, I am only severely sick and disabled just like the 2 million others, and we all paid National Insurance to cover such eventualities or was that a BIG FAT LIE as well?

    It goes to show many including this site seems to have forgotten that TAX does not or never was used it was NATIONAL INSURANCE yes it's easier to sell the story to the unsuspecting public but is yet another BIG FAT POLITICIAN LIE!

    Tories and Labour are one of the same and can not be trusted, move to Scotland instead that is why there's more English living here that Scots, well almost.



     
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Joe · 6 months ago
    Please help us to respond. It's not enough to provide us with the anxiety provoking news about the proposed changes. We need help to make points when responding. It's hard for those with energy limiting conditions or those that produce brain fog to make clear points. In order to be informed, we have to become terrified, which then makes us less able to respond. Please give us guidance as it otherwise is simply too scary to engage with.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      SBlu · 6 months ago
      @Joe Hi Joe - you’re right in all you say but we have to be terrified because otherwise we become complacent. There are options open to us - apply for all the benefits you’re entitled to and if you don’t get them, appeal and then make a noise about it. Write to your MP and any newspaper that may be interested (the Guardian is a good one). It’s hard to give anyone guidance on their individual position as they’re all so different (something else the government rely on) but we all have a voice. Wishing you the best. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Alec · 6 months ago
    After two weeks of worrying myself sick over this I finally got up the nerve to read the consultation and reply to it. I don't expect the DWP or the goverment to take any notice, but had to try.

    The Tories, just when you think they can't sink any lower....
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    G.L. · 6 months ago
    To be honest, I’m almost done. Just spent the last two years plus with a Pip review, MR and now tribunal. Every two to three years for the past decade. Now WCA means that I can be doing this all in tandem for the rest of my life. When will I have time for medical appointments, medications, treatments? I’m worried sick 24/7. I’m not even well enough to write a proper letter to my MP. I’m done.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      The dogmother · 6 months ago
      @G.L. I'm the very same, you could be me! I did ask my mp for help last oct with my pip as I'd been denied it again. Didn't hear a word back so fought it myself, won at MR. That last pip assessment had me collapsedon the floor, and paranoid, ,something I'd never been in my life. There are so many of us that unwell this is tipping us over the edge, it's so hard to hold it together with all this hanging over us. At the moment they are proposals and not set in stone.
      I know it's so hard. I'm terrified too. Just have to try and get through day on day. I know many charities are dead against all of this. People are working in the background to try to sway them off the changes. We have to have faith..it's all we have for now. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    wibblum · 6 months ago
    The venal, self-interested tories know that their days in direct power are now numbered, and they know that they have nothing more to lose. And so they have developed 'bunker mentality', determined in the time they still have to concentrate their despicable ideologies upon their favourite victims : the poor, the sick, and 'the other'.

    In the lead up to the General Election they will take a wrecking ball to the few existing progressive systems that might help these groups in any way, leaving as much chaos as possible for their political successors to shoulder the blame for, in order to facilitate their own eventual return to power. Their success in this endeavour depends upon how subtly they can orchestrate all of this, but mostly it relies upon the short memories of the voting public.

    This is the only 'long-term political strategy' the tories ever have. It doesn't benefit you or me or those who will come after us. It only benefits them and their own vested interests. It only ever looks after The Money and it only ever seeks The Power. And it is the same every time.

    Unfortunately the party that currently laughingly calls itself 'The Opposition' is no such thing. Few, if any, of these policies will be stopped or reversed by the 'proudly aspirant' New New Labour party.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Kri · 6 months ago
    The WCA has caused me so much psychological harm that I have been unable to apply for PIP for over 10 years even though I have known all along that I certainly qualify for enhanced daily living component for decades even under DLA. I have an insurmountable fear that applying or any contact with the DWP could trigger another WCA which triggered an extremely lethal suicide attempt the last time & knowing this they STILL called me for another face to face only 4 weeks later despite evidence that I am so severely affected by my mental health that I was unable to engage in any part of the process. The reassessment before that when I could not engage in the process & they stopped my ESA - I could not ask for help & could not even go to a foodbank & went 6 full days with not one mouthfull of food. I began to starve & it was only a chance intervention by a support worker vising randomly that prevented me from starving.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    D Blake · 6 months ago
    It would be helpful if B&W could provide some pointers on how to make a submission to this consultation process, without making it 'personal or emotional'...
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    o · 6 months ago
    i only stay on this planet as i worry abut my mum and  dad, both in their   90s   .and i am their closest family .   otherwise 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    D · 6 months ago
    Just leaving this here:


    Reality is there is more than enough disabled people and their support systems to heavily influence the next general election - however the community is heavily disfranchised with politics and a huge percentage either won’t bother registering to vote or stay at home election day as they don’t believe their vote will make a difference.

    This status quo is obviously okay with the tories - they’ve made clear they don’t need our vote (they are the uk default vote and party in power for the majority of the last 50 years) - neither labour, the Lib Dem’s or any other party have that luxury and will need to fight twice as hard for every vote. It beggars belief that labour & other party disability are close to mirroring the Tory’s own strategy right now. 

    Why aren’t parties doing all they can to secure the very large untapped disability vote and even launching a campaign to get more disabled people to vote? The disabled community needs to speak out more frequently and louder than ever to increase the chances of being heard by mps and those in a position to change fates.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Kryten · 6 months ago
    I have "Complex PTSD", Manic Depression and Social Anxiety. I've been up most of the night worrying about this. They at the DWP will say "you look fine, go get a job" after I've just been awarded PIP and LCWRA only like 3 months ago.

    The Daily Mail and the Telegraph have been going after disabled benefits claimants as of late, calling them "shirkers" and "scroungers", inciting their readership in some rabid pile on. Lets pick on the disabled because they can't fight back, that's modern Britain for you, compassion and empathy down the toilet. Compassion for the those who's lives are in the quagmire of illness, physical/mental disabilities is the backbone of a functioning society.

    I've worked hard in my youth, got the Uni degree, held down menial jobs, I'm not Rab C Nesbitt just the deterioration of my mental health was incremental, it caught up to me and now I'm basically a hermit vegetable with no friends and my mother is my carer and I'm 35 in December.

    It won't effect just me, my brother is my issues times 10, this isn't a joke, he will lose the plot if he's forced into work, the only reason he hasn't killed himself or been sectioned for that matter is because of me and my mother....oh but this government would most likely be happy if he did kill himself, one less "shirker" to pay for right?

    One day maybe the readership of the Telegraph or the Daily Mail might have a disability stopping them working and they will reap the hate that they're sowing because nobody will spare a thought for them!!!!


    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      SBlu · 6 months ago
      @Susan So who will help us then? Because the Tories have been in power for 13 years. And quite honestly, as a disabled person with a limited income, I’d rather live here than in the USA. My breath is holding - thanks. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Susan · 6 months ago
      @Fiona The problem is that it was Labour who introduced this system. It was all based on Unnum a disability denying insurance company in the states. It was condemned as inhumane by the USA more than a decade ago. The tories carried on with it and’improved’ it. If people think labour will help them, I suggest they don’t hold their breath.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Fiona · 6 months ago
      @Kryten Well said. This unfortunate system that the Government has applied for the sick and disabled is the cause of most deaths/ suicides. And it’s time they were held accountable. I’m seriously banking on a change of Government whenever the next General Election is here, because Labour will treat the Disabled and ill with compassion not contempt. We’re not the fraudsters and criminals the Tories have made us feel and become because they couldn’t give a toss for sick/disabled/mentally ill genuine human beings.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Adam · 7 months ago
    Can someone please tell me everything will be okay, because at the most I am absolutely terrified 

    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      SBlu · 6 months ago
      @Adam We’re all terrified but there is strength in numbers. Hold your nerve - there are many of us - we’ll be OK! 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Kryten · 6 months ago
      @Adam It's 4:41am and I feel like this is the sword of Damocles hovering over my head. I think this government would water their plans down especially as they will feel the weight of disability charities and such. 

      My mother tells me not to worry and cross the bridge when or if it comes.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Samantha · 7 months ago
      @Adam Me too 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Adam · 7 months ago
    Surely the disability charities know the laws on what the gov plan to do is wrong - they can’t bully, torture and get away with this.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Thedogmother · 7 months ago
    I don't drink,smoke,go on holiday,I rarely go out and never unaccompanied,I'm in pain daily, I have 9 conditions, some lifelong, I don't live an extravagant life. I just want peace, I'm 57 now and I thought by my 50's I'd get just that. No chance. When I think it can't get any worse it does, even my recent housing benefit review had me to the point of collapse, why? Because I know there's an agenda to see what's changed so they can dump me onto uc early. There's no change ,none, except my health is getting worse. I feel at this life stage there's no point in struggling on.
    What is there left for us only more and more worry.I hope history will show just how we were treated and how it was allowed no matter how much we fought against it.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Painofmylife · 6 months ago
      @Thedogmother I am in similar situation to you, after yrs of study, work, volunteering raising a family as single parent my body just gave up on me, my mental health is in shreds and I have no life to speak of. I have become housebound.Dont drink smoke go out or holiday...just try to keep a roof(even though damp and falling apart)over our heads pay rent, bills and try manage daily survival and its getting more difficult. The arrival of esa review form and filling it in has left little life or hope in me, the added stress of waiting to hear has just pushed an already fragile existence to further hopelessness. At this age if 57 thought with such complex and debilitating permanent disabilities I could live rest of my days in relative peace. How wrong of me to gave even thought it. Don't hold much hope for things improving. I'm too exhausted and in pain to imagine what might be.😥😣😔😓
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