As Labour appoints a new shadow work and pensions secretary, we look at the chances that Liz Kendall will come to the rescue of claimants who are unable to work because of disability.

In his latest cabinet reshuffle, Keir Starmer replaced Jon Ashworth with Liz Kendall as shadow work and pensions secretary.

If, as seems increasingly likely, Labour win the next election, it will be Kendall who will make major decisions about the future of welfare benefits.

Perhaps the most important of those will be the fate of the work capability assessment (WCA), the test used to decide who gets to be in the LCWRA group for universal credit and the support group for employment and support allowance (ESA).

Claimants in these groups do not have to prepare for work and receive an additional amount in their benefits.

Under the DWP’s current proposals, access to the LCWRA and support group will be slashed in 2025 and the WCA will be abolished altogether in a rolling programme beginning in 2026/27. Instead, being in receipt of PIP will lead to an additional payment in UC and decisions on capability for work will be left to unqualified work coaches.

Where the Labour leadership in general and Kendall in particular stand on these issues is yet to be seen.

On the plus side, Kendall supported the uprating of legacy benefits such as ESA and JSA during the pandemic, which was only given to UC claimants.

And when the proposal to make it harder to be found to have LCWRA was announced by the government, Kendall criticised them for failing to look after people’s health in the first place due to soaring hospital waiting lists and failing social care.  She told the Commons:

“But if you run your NHS into the ground for 13 years and let waiting lists for physical and mental health soar, if you fail to reform social care to help people caring for their loved ones, and if your sole aim is to try and score political points rather than reforming the system to get sick and disabled people who can work the help they really need, you end up with the mess we have today.

 

“A system that is failing sick and disabled people, that is failing taxpayers, and failing our country as a whole. Britain deserves far better than this.”

But there has been no promise to reverse or halt any of the Conservative proposals around the WCA.

And in the 2015 Labour leadership election, Kendall said that the party had to support welfare benefits reforms or face being out of power for decades.

She was the only leadership candidate to back the Conservative government’s benefits cap.

More generally, there are question marks over Labour’s commitment to disabled claimants.

During the latest shadow cabinet reshuffle, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan resigned as shadow mental health minister because there was no longer a place in cabinet for the role, suggesting Labour is attaching less importance to the issue.

Even if Labour were committed to fighting to improve the lot of disabled claimants, their insistence that all spending must be costed could prove problematic.

If the Conservatives include any savings from changes to the WCA 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.

So, as things stand, hopes that an incoming Labour government will immediately begin to relieve the pressure on disabled claimants seem slim.

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.
    jamesy465 · 7 months ago
    Hey can any one tell me if it's normal ???? Waited for my phone pip call at 1pm today , got all stressed, had a bit of a melt down really and 1pm got the call to say , Oh sorry about this but we cant do it and would not tell me why !!!??????? wth, my daughter took a day of work knowing how i get. They have given me another on the 25th sept. Has any one else had this done to them ? My nerves are no frazzled ,my mind is shot,I'm a total WRECK ! Do they do it on purpose . Please help
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    jamesy465 · 7 months ago
    Just more tory hand grenades thrown under the coffee table in the demise of their calamity ! 
    God spare us and god love us and save us , as my Irish mum used to say to me ......
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    spike · 7 months ago
    i think it was the eu  who asked gbritain to come to a meeting 2 weeks ago. due to how gbritain treated people who  are  disabled and sick     gbritain declined to go that says it all.i will just say this as well .the dwp got that sick of me sending 20 years of proof of illness in .they sent the lot back  to me . the size of a thick book. with a message for me .from the parcel bloke saying.tell him we the dwp have gone on our holidays. that was after  also after a complete pack of lies told about me at a pip assesment.also this goverment have brainwashed the puplic into believeing we are all lazy scroungers.iam not even going to go into all my  illnesess.because i have been filling in forms and talking about it since 2012 .ie osborne and cameron.and iam sick of the lot of them.i voted for labour for 40 years.2 year ago i stopped  voting.if anyone thinks labour are going to be any better.you need to think again.now saying that i really dont know how worse it could be if this bill gets through.they want us all dead and gone they have been trying to do that for thirteen year.what good thing if any in thirteen year as this goverment done for the sck and disabled.and i dont care who reads my comments                       
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      The dogmother · 6 months ago
      @spike That was The United nations who asked them to appear but they ignored them and not the first time. 
      The UN already told them they are in breach of human rights on disability and sickness in the U.K.
      That's why they won't appear. They can't hold up to scrutiny. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Mark · 7 months ago
    Remember that New Labour like the pigs in Animal Farm metamorphosed into old Tory.

    Soon there will be no disabled people in the UK, all will have been classed as fit and healthy. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Arthur · 7 months ago
    Don't hold your breath, an incoming Labour government will do nothing for the disabled. there will be no real improvements as Labour are not the working peoples government we think they are. Their policies will just be a continuation of an outgoing Tory party 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    The Termagant · 7 months ago
    Personally I think no party wants to be in government as they haven't a clue how to deal with a broken society. We need to start afresh.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Jess H · 7 months ago
    It was actually Labour under Tony Blair that began the process of welfare reforms that we have today. It was Gordon Brown's Labour that introduced ESA and "fit notes" in 2008 and abolished the old Incapacity Benefit. The Tories continued this process over the last 13 years. I do not expect we will ever return to a compassionate welfare system because the main parties are neoliberalist and are under the control of Rupert Murdoch. 
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    r rich · 7 months ago
    best can hope for is a bad labour government to get in they keep the wca as it is with only some minor changes and least that delays things for 5 years i think thats how long a parliment lasts for and hope then they maybe get in again for another 5 years but yes its all very worrying the conservatives are slowly chipping away at  the welfare state bit by bit until theirs nothing much left
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Mark D. · 7 months ago
    Hard to see at the moment what Labour does have to offer over the Conservatives, apart from a different name.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    clearwater · 7 months ago
    Make no mistake...

    Kendall  &  Starmer  &  Reeves - are all in the same camp as Iain Duncan Smith & Osbourne (and the others)
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    AW · 7 months ago
    I didn't vote in May because I declined to get photo ID just for the purpose. As it stands, nothing Labour has said makes me wish to make the effort to vote in a GE either. If what we are given as choices are two right wing nasty parties then I'm not going to collude with that. I will abstain rather than perpetuate a rotten system, even if that means I end up a casualty of it. We need to do better.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Aw · 6 months ago
      @MrFibro I've never not voted but there comes a point where radical change is needed. None of these parties could claim a mandate if enough people conscientiously objected to being forced to choose between them. Even if in thw short term it means we have to learn a hard lesson, I will not vote just because it's there, I'll stand aside on principle.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      MrFibro · 7 months ago
      @AW hi Aw, people died so we could have the right to vote.  Don't waste your vote, wait til the parties manifestos are out first, then make your mind up then.

      I will not vote for those corrupted tories, even if it means having to vote labour and their welfare regime is on par with the tories.  

      good luck


  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Steve · 7 months ago
    Kendall is a right-wing Blue Labour hawk. She will be just as bad as the Tories. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    John · 7 months ago
    I work part time and get pip but don’t get ESA or universal Credit my question is if they are trying to get people into work who are on long term sick what will happen to people like me who claim pip but work part time as well I’m worried I will lose my pip when theses changes come in 2025 but I’m not due my assignment till 2027 so after 2025 if you work and have a long term disability like me who gets pip will you lose it??
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      MrFibro · 7 months ago
      @Xfactor2009 hi xfactor2009, 

      the way i look at it this, if your so ill, sick disabled, then you should be working part time at all.  as the tory logic is well if he/ she can work part time whilst getting pip/ esa etc, then so can everyone graft.


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      Xfactor2009 · 7 months ago
      @Jude It could be if the extra hours contradicts the claim as regards the impairment level accepted by the assessment and award. Just like inn ESA voluntary work albeit permitted can do 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Jude · 7 months ago
      @John I don't think your PIP will be affected at all. You should get the same level of PIP whether you increase your current work hours or give up work completely or continue as you are
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      clearwater · 7 months ago
      @John

      we shall have to keep an eye out.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    clearwater · 7 months ago
    oops  finger trouble   meant write

    and that is what Kendall was thinking in Osbourne & Iain Duncan Smiths time,

    Starmer, Reeves & Kendall - dont get your hopes up there. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    clearwater · 7 months ago

    Re will Kendall save the WCA?

    2015 Labour leadership election, Kendall said that the party had to support welfare benefits reforms

    and that is what Kendall was thinking in 


    Make no mistake - 

  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Jenga · 7 months ago
    The bottom line is the political class of all persuasions would prefer the disabled were dead. 
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    Porridge · 7 months ago
    It seems that Labour has found itself in the position now of having to indulge in ever more right wing policy proclamations in order to try and win back Red Wall voters and, let’s face it, the other many thousands of disillusioned Tory voters out there who might spend their vote in the next election, as a one-time-only protest vote, on Labour. Labour obviously feels than it cannot and that it must not proclaim any sort of “socialism” at all, lest it risk winning outright or partial power in the next election. 

    Liz Kendall might bring fresh thinking as to how to best serve the needs of long-term sick claimants and people with lifelong disabilities, while at the same time moving away from the WCA. A lot of money could be saved by not paying privately-owned companies such as ATOS and Capita to make amateur and punative assessments about people’s disabilities and health problems for a start off. 

    I also hope that a lot more thought, care and genuine compassion is offered to people who need to claim sickness and disability support so that they may be able to access life ling training and pastoral and mental health support so that they can do some paid work if they want to, and are able to gain self esteem and pay some taxes while also being able to survive and not fear having all their financial support taken away should they step forward and try out paid work.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      welshval · 7 months ago
      @Porridge Porridge if you're looking for fresh thinking Kendall is not the person to deliver it she is firmly stuck in the neoliberal past circa 1997 and does not strike me as having any capacity/desire to change-a compassion free zone obsessed with pleasing business Labour is now chasing big business support it's no longer even that worried about the red wall voters because of polling they are again assuming their votes are in the bag
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Xfactor2009 · 7 months ago
    A few  years  ago the Government  announced  measures to save   certain groups from having to   ever  again be  reassessed.   The support group  accommodated  higher numbers.   The  system was still very  difficult but now  talk of scrapping the WCA and the  ways in which LCWRA might be adapted  are truly terrifying.   Many people  have been on  benefits  as  disabled   for years.    They have not a  hope  in hell of  working again in anything but an artificial supported  environment or  minimum hours.   All this means for them is another  year or two of  anxiety about  what  Labour  will do and   with the possible  implications  of losing money  for the  rest of their lives  prior to the  ever increasing retirement age and in  many cases losing their  entitlement  completely.  it is  dire  beyond comprehension.   

    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      MrFibro · 7 months ago
      @TwistedWitch Hi twistedwitch,

      The bottom line is this!  they know that x amount of people will never ever in a million years be employable.  But they don't give a toss, it's all about kicking you off benefits or lowering your rate, in order to save money.  Then pump that savings of billions into other projects ie white elephants etc, or to fund tax cuts to the rich at the expense of the sick, ill and disabled.

      But you never hear about them clawing billions back from the tax evaders in this country do you, that's because of corrupted fingers in pies etc, and all that back patting.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      TwistedWitch · 7 months ago
      @Xfactor2009
      They did indeed make these pronouncements...... Did anyone ever actually benefit from these alleged measures? I certainly have never heard of anyone doing so.

      Before ESA came in, back in the old IB days I was at the time exempt from work under the grounds that I had a condition that severely and persistently limited my effort tolerance to exerice, or words to that effect. Basically it meant that if you had any form of exercise and then didn't mean squats etc. just general moving around that I would be so breathless as to make it impossible.

      Then along came ESA and not only was that little exemption no more suddenly you were okay if you could mobilise 50 yds instead of the previous 200. Also there was no mention of the effort it took to climb stairs, that was gone.

      Slowly but surely they have chipped away at the safety nets that were in place and these latest proposals will basically remove them altogether. There will be NO such thing as a support group or they will be but the points attributed to what used to garner 15 points will be so low as to make it impossible to qualify.

      So from the pretence of giving a flying fig and telling Joe Public that they will put these measures in place for certain categories which of course they never did, they have arrived at the 'no one is to be considered unfit for work' mantra.

      It's total pie in the sky to suggest that people who lose control of their bowels, for example, can safely work from home because first of all you need to find an employer willing to take you on, and happy for you to work remotely every single working day. It just isn't gonna happen.

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