Claimants have been left in a state of deep uncertainty over the government’s response to the work capability assessment (WCA) consultation.  In particular, they want to know what is happening to reassessments for claimants in the support group for employment and support allowance (ESA) or who have limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA) for universal credit (UC).

The government’s response document gives contradictory messages about whether reassessments for this group, who we will call the LCWRA group to include both ESA and UC, have already ended or whether they will not end until 2025.

The government’s proposals introduce something called the Chance to Work Guarantee.

The Chance to Work Guarantee “is for existing claimants on UC and ESA with LCWRA. This change will be effective from 2025, at the same time as WCA changes are introduced. This change will in effect abolish the WCA for the vast majority of this group, bringing forward a key element of our White Paper proposals and giving people the confidence to try work.”

The meaning of this paragraph seems clear: the abolition of the WCA for existing LCWRA claimants will take place in 2025.

However, in the next paragraph the government states:

“These changes will mean that almost all people who are currently assessed as having LCWRA will never face a WCA reassessment again. Reassessments will only take place under very limited circumstances, which are:

  •  When a claimant reports a change of circumstances in their health condition;
  • If a claimant has been awarded LCWRA for pregnancy risk, or cancer treatment where the prognosis for recovery is expected to be short-term;
  • If a claimant has been declared as having LCWRA under the new risk provisions; and
  • In cases of suspected fraud.”

The phrase “currently assessed as having LCWRA” suggests that almost all current claimants are now safe from reassessment.

Is this simply because there are very few WCA reassessments taking place, so almost all current claimants will not be reassessed anyway?  

Or because a firm decision has been made to end reassessments immediately for people with LCWRA?

At the end of the response document, readers are told:

"Changes to the WCA activities and descriptors will be implemented nationally, no earlier than 2025.

"We want claimants who have already been assessed as having LCWRA to be able to engage with support to move towards work without the fear of reassessment. We have committed to ensuring no one currently assessed as having LCWRA will face a WCA reassessment, save in some exceptional circumstances. This will in effect abolish the WCA for this group, bringing forward a key element of our Health and Disability White Paper proposals and give people the confidence to try work."

The phrase “no one currently assessed as having LCWRA will face a WCA reassessment” seems unambiguous in saying that the WCA has already ended for claimants with LCWRA and it is just changes to the activities and descriptors which will have to wait until 2025.

We wish that we could tell readers categorically what the right answer is.  But the truth is that we don’t know, although we are making strenuous efforts to find out.

There are some of our readers’ questions that we can answer, however.

Mass reassessments

One suspicion that was raised repeatedly when we covered the chancellor’s Autumn statement was that all current LCWRA claimants would be reviewed before 2025 and most would be pushed into the LCW group in advance of the changes.

We can say with some certainty that this won’t happen.

For one thing, there is virtually no possibility of Maximus being able to recruit, train and deploy the vast number of new health professionals that would be needed to reassess everyone who currently has LCWRA between now and 2025.

In addition, figures from December 2022 show that the percentage of DWP decisions for repeat WCAs was:

  • 83% of outcomes for Support Group
  • 13% of outcomes were for Work Related Activity Group
  • 4% of outcomes were found Fit for Work

So, even if the DWP were to reassess all LCWRA claimants before the reformed WCA was introduced, the vast majority would remain in the LCWRA group.  And any appeals would be heard under the rules that applied at the time of the decision, even if the hearing took place when the reformed rules were in place.

Compulsory Chance to Work Guarantee

Another concern that a number of readers raised was that the Chance to Work Guarantee would make it compulsory for existing claimants with LCWRA to try work or work preparation.

This seems extraordinarily unlikely and would undoubtedly require further changes to the law. 

Even under the new proposals the government recognises that there are some claimants for whom any move towards work would be potentially seriously harmful.  A mandatory requirement to try work for current LCWRA claimants would be too dangerous for any administration to consider.

Stay safe

The reality is that if this change comes about, whether it applies now or in 2025, the vast majority of current LCWRA claimants will never have another reassessment because so few are being carried out.

But that does nothing to take away the fear for individual claimants who might be one of the unlucky ones if reassessments are continuing.

We will continue to try to get clarification.

But, in the meantime, we would advise readers to assume that reassessments are to continue until 2025 and that trying out work whilst in the LCWRA group could have serious consequences for your future benefit entitlement.

And if anyone who currently has LCWRA is selected for reassessment over the coming weeks, please let us know.

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Alice · 7 days ago
    I was put in ESA support group from Jan 2014, didn't have any more assessments, transferred voluntarily to UC Dec 2019 put straight into LCWRA. Then told March 2020 claim needed to be reassessed but then it was put on hold because of the lockdown. July 2023 they sent me health questionnaire which I returned, then Jan 2024 I had a telephone WCA. Just found out today I'm remaining in the LCWRA (praise the Lord). Am surprised to hear that WCAs were supposed to have stopped...perhaps if I am due another in Feb 2025 it will not happen?
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    Mary · 14 days ago
    Mary here again I got a letter but never said anything about changes I have blackouts at least once a week which leads to evacotian of the bowls and bladder can’t go out by my self so house bound unless I’m accompany serve artharitis on the spine and knee and bad depression totally don’t get this sorry about the spelling folks
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    Mary · 14 days ago
    I’m going for a reassessment on Thursday in lcwra group I’m up to a hundred about it can’t sleep my circumcise not changed  and are not likely to can’t beleive this my anxiety through the roof
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    Debbie · 17 days ago
    I have received LCWRA. I've had CFS for 30 years and there is no cure yet I'm to be reassessed every 18 months! Waste of time and money. It's going to take me 18 months to recover from the stress and anxiety caused from the last assessment!
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Mary · 20 days ago
    I have reassessment next week I’m on lcwra I’ll at the thought of it
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    Eileen · 1 months ago
    I received a reassessment form in December after only having lcwra from early 2023. I have fibromyalgia, nerve pain, anxiety disorder and depression yet I'm being reassessed all after I asked my uc work coach about training and support available to help me possibly start working as my mental health is rapidly declining by being trapped at home. Now my anxiety is through the roof as I feel they will take away that financial support. They offered zero help for the work query other than sign posting me to disability action. I'm so sick of the benefit system making me live in fear of making any small change in my life.
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    Nigel · 1 months ago
    Sounds like the whole thing is a shite-sack/sunak/shambles and random based on facts from this thread of each persons treatment in correspondence and some opinions trying there best to decipher the nasty unclear drivel vomited by politicians whom make no difference who ever they are (political group/cult), whom work for the same master - WEF.

    Let it ride and please try not to think about this they want you to fear everything in Life  (they are trying to destroy and depopulate the weakest, first and old) and try every little trick to manipulate you into a miserable existence, don't be fooled by them. Love and peace to everyone.

    I had a video call in mid December (Not PIP , please read on, or was it?) and was awarded LCWRA (by DWP), and got a letter to this effect in Journal, I was amazed to see extra £390 in December, and a don't call us unless you have a change of circumstances (letter).

    However,

    I had tried to get PIP, starting process of filling in the initial form that they sent (after 3 trys), then which I returned.  They said there will be a further form/s more detailed (that they never sent after me asking 2 more time), funny thing is the chasing letter came to me, but never the bigger bundle of forms. I gave up asking (stock excuse its the post office).

    I now got a text message (4 Jan 2024, after LCWRA decision letter in Mid December 2023, 18 days ago) saying my claim for PIP is being looked at by a health care professional, they will contact you with an appointment if they need to.  They don't even have completed forms...

    I thought this had been done, letter and payment... alas, who knows?

    I'm going to leave them to chase their own tales and I refer you back to my first paragraph.

    Love and peace (turn off your TV, don't read newspapers and use your smart phone sparingly)


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    SparkyMarc · 1 months ago
    I was awarded LCWRA in June 2023, I have ADHD and Autism as well as OCD, Depression and Anxiety issues and I'm somewhat agoraphobic and struggle with public transport and workplaces in terms of anxiety but also struggle massively to perform at work due to my ADHD and Autism which affects my time management, planning and organizing etc. I also am prone to emotional outbursts which are much more severe when not medicated on Methyphenidate. 

    I'm not sure why they decided a yearly reassessment was appropriate for me, I mean did they think from June passed to this coming June in 2024 I'd be ready for work? hardly....
    I'm not sure if they'll cancel my reassessment before then or if it'll be massively delayed but I'm in Scotland and two weeks ago I was awarded full ADP enhanced daily living as well as enhanced mobility so I'm hoping this will go in my favour at next LCWRA assessment?
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    wibblum · 2 months ago
    Like many here in the ESA Support Group, after not being reassessed for years I've just received a DWP letter out of the blue, detailing 'a recent change of circumstances' (probably that I was just re-awarded PIP) that has led them to 'look at' my ESA claim 'again' ... but without seeming to reach any kind of concrete decision on it or making any change to the ESA award.  I had a heart attack last week (not helped by the stress surrounding the recent PIP review, is my guess) and I only came out of hospital on Friday afternoon, and the mere sight of a Belfast postmark almost sent me straight back in there.

    While I was in hospital my usual ESA payment was replaced with a Faster Payment (different code) so I'm guessing it could also have something to do with the DWP's current 'archiving antics' already detailed in the comments. Whatever it was, the right amount of money went in, so I'm not stressing myself chasing them up for an explanation when I've been medically instructed to take it easy for the next month.

    Whether this procedure also somehow counts as some kind of a 'light touch/quiet reassessment' or not, I have no idea, and at the moment I've not got enough patience for the DWP's usual obstructive and impenetrable mysticism to try and find out.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      The Dog mother · 18 days ago
      @wibblum What came of the 'Chamge of circumstances '? Did you ever find out what it was really all about. wibblum 
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      MissNobody · 1 months ago
      @wibblum This is heartbreaking to read. I'm so sorry to hear. I know a lady who works all time she used to always have a cast on I saw her lately bk in spring when I was having a good day and asked my daughter if she'd help me go outside and on talking the woman said she had had a heart attack I then noticed all ber arms were cut up to death then remembered the cast. She looked miffed as I noticed but showed her my wrists and arms. But honestly that just shows to me she may have been working hard all these years but not without being pushed way over the edge. I was employed by mcdonalds but think they want rid of ne. I feel paranoid like it's a safety net gone if it goes even though I know I'm incapable.ive ptsd pmdd psychotic episodes amd my backs gone yet a mri scan they said showed nothing wrong with my back no herniated discs etc. Yet I can't bend or I'll be in agony and oainkillers don't help. I did the scan because I desperately wanted the cortisone in lower spine and now I won't get it. Can't even get delivery shipping in anymore or clean.. like you said tge worry of all these letters or being called a liar or the only life raft keeping you going affects your heart so bad . Hoping for a smoother time for you from now on
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      The Dog Mother · 2 months ago
      @wibblum They love the cloak and dagger approach,  aimed at making us more afraid( if that's posdible) abd more unwell. You concentrate on your recovery. That's paramount, let them Inform you, your too ill to worry about chasing after their tails. 
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    reasonstobecheerful · 2 months ago
    We're no way criminals, The Dog mother, you're an angel looking after your mum. Don't let the system overwhelm you. The dwp has to stick to the official line, but you are entitled to welfare. Try to access the local support services, there's no need to struggle alone.
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      The Dog Mother · 2 months ago
      @reasonstobecheerful I can't allow her to try to go it alone,she has mobility problems, does not get anything other than old age pension and is relying on taxis, she can't even phone to book the taxi. Only recently had double cataract surgery. 
      I know I'll suffer for pushing myself, I had a bit of a meltdown earlier today, but I thought of my dad and how lucky we are to still have him. He's absolutely Golden. Definitely one of the good guys.I can't let them down, nobody else is stepping up to the plate, other than my adult nephew abd he's working 55hrs a week.plus looking after his children in between. But he's doing his best.Thanks. x 
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    reasonstobecheerful · 2 months ago
    Chin up, guys,but there isn't 'capacity in the system' for mass reassessments. Look at what B&W are saying above. Even if you are reassessed you'll get through - get your GP support, especially with your increased anxiety, and have your evidence ready there in your medical record. There is help available, no need to be isolated. Remember, you are likely to get a letter about the £10 Christmas bonus, so don't freak when that brown envelope comes through the door!
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      reasonstobecheerful · 2 months ago
      @The Dog Mother That's dreadful no Christmas bonus, just shows what a shambles they are. £10 is an insult, frankly, but you should get it all the same.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      The Dog Mother · 2 months ago
      @reasonstobecheerful No Christmas bonus for me four years in a row. I do not know why, but they can keep it. I'm not phoning to put myself in the limelight. My benefits are the sane pip and iresa. So if you get pip you are meant to get the big crazy 10 quid bonus. But nope. 
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      carbow32 · 2 months ago
      @The Dog mother I know its insane.  They are making us more ill than we already were in the first place and then like to incinerate that none of us are actually ill at all.  I am the same with aging parents and my own health its really demanding.
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      The Dog mother · 2 months ago
      @Carbow32 I'm the very same, and trying to cope with a very ill parent who had a desperate accident, I'm drained of life-force, to say my soul left my body when I heard about him is very close to the truth. With all my anxiety, depression, panic attacks and the rest, trying to support my elderly mother the best way I can is killing me ,and too the worry worry worry of this horror of reassessment and the fight it brings. I'm on the brink. Exhausted before all this ,100 times worse now,  I can't even think straight, I'm losing things, can't even remember the name of simple items. My god make it end before Christmas and pray that he gets home.
      Let someone help us in our daily fight for justice ,we've done no wrong, but still we feel like criminals.
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      Carbow32 · 2 months ago
      @paintingthetownred Hopefully they are gone this time next year.  Then have to have some trust in Labour.

      I am always in a state of worse case scenario.  My whole life revolves around when will I be assessed, will it go against me.  Then will I have the energy to fight them.

      My body goes into panic everyday the letter box goes.  Awful way of life.
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      paintingthetownred · 2 months ago
      @carbow32 Thank you for this. I don't quite understand it, mostly because my anxiety sometimes stops me from seeing things as clearly as I would like. Then again sometimes it motivates me to anticipate and protect myself and others...

      This may be my ultra cynical way of thinking ....but the exemptions to carrying out further assessments include when people are suspected of fraud.

      Nothing to stop these Tories....accusing everyone on LCW or look for work of fraud. 
      I don't put it past them. They would then be able to stop as many peoples' benefits as they like, without deviating from their cruel script of 'leaving people with disabiltiies alone'. 

      Sorry that is cynical I know. But perhaps it is better to operate in worst case scenario mode?
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    The Dog Mother · 2 months ago
    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/dec/14/sunak-scraps-dedicated-minister-disabled-people-government

    Absolutely Cosmic,their love affair with us continues. Blatant disregard for all who fall under the disability umbrella,once more.
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      tintack · 2 months ago
      @The Dog Mother
      Oh I agree, it certainly shows their contempt for anyone less privileged than themselves, but then we already knew that - their actions over the last 13 years have demonstrated it beyond any doubt. There won't be any change in attitude until there's a change of government, and how much things will change then we just don't know yet. 

      As for never getting a minister for the disabled who gives a fig, well it's hardly surprising: most ministers stay in their post for barely a year, sometimes less than that. They know little or nothing about the area for which they have responsibility, and then get moved on to a different department about which they are equally ignorant. For them, being minister for the disabled is just a brief stepping stone to a position in government higher up the food chain.
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      The Dog Mother · 2 months ago
      @tintack It's really no loss as you say, but it def speaks volumes as to how we are seen... or not seen as the case might be. Its another attempt at dehumanising us as being in any way shape or form valid.  
      Maybe they could snatch the air from us, or means test it.
      We never seem to get a Minister for the disabled who gives a fig.So, i guess that makes them perfect for the role.
      It's like putting a lion in charge of the sheep and expecting him not to do his worst. Except a lion may have more scruples.
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      tintack · 2 months ago
      @The Dog Mother True, and it's a terrible look for them not to fill the post. That said, given the procession of ghouls and chancers who have been ministers for disabled people under this government, I don't suppose it's any great loss in practical terms. If there were a minister for disabled people you can guarantee that under this lot it would just be the latest sneering psychopath worming their way up the greasy pole.
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    reasonstobecheerful · 2 months ago
    This was omitted from my post, and should have come after ''At the end of Tom Pursglove's answer to Vicky Foxcroft':'

    "Existing LCW claimants will be called for reassessment as normal depending on their circumstances, including their prognosis period and available capacity in the system."

    and before "LCWRA claimants are referred to earlier in his answer." etc. 

    So much for clarity!

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    reasonstobecheerful · 2 months ago
    Not so much wishful thinking as reasonable deduction, weighing up all the government responses. At the end of Tom Pursglove's answer to  Vicky Foxcroft:


    LCWRA claimants are referred to earlier in his answer. We could find ambiguity in the term 'existing', however, combined with the published use of 'today' I find sufficient justification for LCWRA group to at least question a reassessment raised after 22/11/23.

    Doodledee: I don't think Mims Davies' (really not straightforward) response is sufficiently clear to lead us to your conclusion that 'Existing LCWRA claimants will still be reassessed up until 2025', simply that, barring the special circumstances, they will not be reassessed after 2025.

    I believe people posting here are right in their judgement of the government's (and Labour's) lack of clarity, competence and transparency. This is why WE have to strive for accuracy and exploit the politicians' inadequacies.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Carbow32 · 2 months ago
    what do they mean by "department led reassessments"
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Sara · 2 months ago
      @Carbow32 Maybe reassessments instigated by dwp, rather than by claimants with change of circumstnces, eg worsening of medical conditions?
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    A · 2 months ago
    Although you can never rule out a Tory victory at the next general election, both odds and polls are currently predicting a Labour triumph, therefore, I believe we better question the position of the Labour with regard to reassessments., as the Labour is more ambiguous than the Tories in this regard. 

    Needless to add that the current Labour, under the dictatorship of Keir Starmer, is all about ambiguity and the sort of "we'll let you know when we get in office".
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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    LilacGem · 2 months ago
    We wish that we could tell readers categorically what the right answer is. But the truth is that we don’t know, although we are making strenuous efforts to find out.
    I know everyone at B&W will be busy with the extra demands of Christmas, and their own health needs, just like the rest of us. And that must come first.

    But, oh, I do hope that wherever possible, those "strenuous efforts" will be able to continue. I know i we all, would be tremendously grateful.

     I honestly dont know what i'd do without B&W, thanks so much to you all. 
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    Doodledee · 2 months ago
    Finally a straight forward answer on the latest question answered today. 

    Question

    Vicky Foxcroft
    Labour
    Lewisham, Deptford
    Commons
    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of the proposed changes to the Work Capability Assessment on disabled people’s finances.
    Hide full question
    Answer

    Mims Davies
    Conservative
    Mid Sussex
    Commons
    Answered on

    12 December 2023
    The vast majority of existing Universal Credit (UC) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants will not be affected by the Work Capability Assessment Changes if they have already been assessed as having Limited Capability for Work and Work-Related Activity LCWRA. With the Chance to Work Guarantee, which will be introduced with the WCA changes in 2025, the majority of this group will be able to try work without the fear of reassessment, as we will be switching off department-led reassessments for existing claimants.

    The financial impacts on individuals have been considered in taking decisions on the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), alongside consideration of the responses to the consultation.

    The Office for Budget Responsibility have published their assessment of the numbers that they expect to be affected by the changes and HMT have also published the impacts in their policy costing note that accompanies the Autumn Statement. We will publish an Impact Assessment in due course.
    ————-

    So unfortunately Existing LCWRA claimants will still be reassessed up until 2025 

    Though How many they will be able to get through is a luck of the draw :(
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      tintack · 2 months ago
      @Doodledee I don't think this leaves us any clearer. It's completely at odds with the government document's referral to "the commitment that no one with an existing LCWRA decision [b]today[/b] will be reassessed, except in a few limited circumstances'.

      I wouldn't read much into the fact that this statement was made by a minister on the floor of the Commons:  that's no guarantee of its accuracy, to say the least.  Ministers frequently have a poor grasp of policy detail and its entirely possible that that is the case here.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      CaroA · 2 months ago
      @Doodledee Thank you for your research getting this latest parliamentary question response to us very much appreciated.  

      I'm surprised somebody hasn't put it to parliament that we get sent to Rwanda too!
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      The Dog Mother · 2 months ago
      @Doodledee Said that below, they were never going to allow us to 'Laguish' on disability benefits until new changes, knew it, because it defeats the purpose somewhat of bringing in the changes to remove anyone in support group. Why would they allow so many to keep LCWRA.
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