Benefits and Work has created an online form to allow claimants to assess themselves using the heavily reduced work capability assessment (WCA) that will be introduced if the DWP goes through with the harshest options in its recent consultation document.  

Activities abolished
The DWP are currently consulting on making it much harder to be found to have Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity (LCWRA or support group in ESA) or Limited Capability for Work (LCW). 

The consultation has various options, but at its most irresponsible, it proposes completely doing away with any points relating to:

  • Mobilising
  • Absence or loss of bowel/bladder control
  • Coping with Social Engagement
  • Getting About

The justification for this by the DWP is that people can now work from home, so problems with issues like mobilising, remaining continent or coping with other people no longer matter.

How easy it is in the real world for people with very serious health conditions to get jobs where their employer never expects them to come to work is something the consultation document simply doesn’t discuss. 

Substantial risk
Equally alarmingly, the DWP are proposing to do away with the absolutely vital substantial risk rule.  This rule allows you to be found to have LCWRA if there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of anyone if you were found not to have LCWRA.

It is a fundamental safeguard for people who have, for example, severe mental health issues or some forms of learning disability or neurodiversity, who may struggle to regulate their emotions if placed in situations they find distressing.  They may harm themselves or lash out at others because they feel threatened or overwhelmed.

Under the proposed new rules, people in this position would, at best, be found to have LCW.  They could be required to attend interviews with work coaches and to take part in training.  If they failed to attend, or were judged not to have participated fully, they would then risk having their benefits sanctioned, possibly repeatedly.

What is likely to follow such sanctions is a descent into debt, increasing desperation and, as we have seen too often in the past, the end result may be the entirely avoidable death of a claimant.

According to Guy Opperman, minister for employment, work coaches receive just 6 hours and 45 minutes of mental health training.  With the benefit of this training they must judge whether a claimant is choosing to be uncooperative and even apparently rude or aggressive or is prevented from participating appropriately due to their their mental health condition.

The consultation document states that 14.6% of all new claimants who are placed in the LCWRA group are there because of the substantial risk rule.  There are currently a total of 2.4 million people in the LCWRA group of UC or support group of ESA. 

If these changes are brought in they are likely to apply to all new claimants from some point in 2025 and to all existing UC and ESA claimants who have their claim reviewed after that date.  (In addition, the DWP are still proposing to abolish the WCA entirely for new claims by 2029 and existing claims after that).

Many tens of thousands of claimants will be affected and it is very hard to see how removing the substantial risk rule would not lead to many additional claimant deaths.

Try the Worst Case WCA Test
Our WCA test is anonymous, though you can include your email address if you wish to emailed a copy of your results.  The results page will tell you how many points, if any, you scored and whether you would be placed in the:

  • LCWRA group
  • LCW group
  • Fit For Work group

Bear in mind that this is your assessment of what you would score, the DWP might reach a different conclusion.

In addition, remember this test may never be introduced.  Much may depend on the level of negative feedback and concern that these proposals create.

so, if you are unhappy with what you find when you try the test, we urge you very strongly to take action before it’s too late.

There’s details of steps you can take on the results page of your test.

Disability charities
If you have connections with a disability charity whose users may be affected, ask them to submit a response.  It doesn’t have to be very long and if they are worried that they don’t have a good enough understanding of the WCA, tell them about our absolutely free, confidential email consultancy service to help them with their submission.

Whilst individual submissions to the consultation can be anonymous and individuals’ details are always kept confidential, the DWP often publish a list of the organisations that have taken part.  It would be good to see as many disability charities as possible in that list.

But time is, deliberately, short.  The DWP gave no warning whatsoever that they were dropping this bombshell and have allowed only until 30 October for responses. 

So please begin alerting people as quickly and widely as you can.

And, finally, if you take the test, please come back and post a comment about how you got on and what actions you are planning to take.

Warning:  Please do not take the test if you think you would find the results distressing.  You can still find out more and take part in the consultation by reading our article:  Consultation on slashing support group launched by DWP

Take the Worst Case WCA Test

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Lee · 4 months ago
    How does The Human Rights Act settle on the issue of 'right to life' which when you are a substantial risk, I am such a risk to others if put in situations that are beyond my control, then you are risking both yourself by others defending themselves, prison or psychiatric detention, or potentially killing or seriously harming someone else who just happens to be near me. I am controlled by situational measures which are totally impossible to replicate in any workplace. Perhaps if I did work they should put me next to one of these idiot trolls online who class all disabled as parasites. There but for the Grace of God should be far more readily accepted by people. Would they be the same if they fell ill, or their wife, son, daughter, nobody is permanently able to say illness won't affect them to the point they cannot work. Eventually the media will find another target but for now these measures and commentary aimed at igniting hatred against the disabled should be seen as a form of hate crime like racist or homophobic attacks would be. The UK is falling apart and while I am so, so appreciative of what help the benefit system has been for me, the removal of legal aid and the pushing of Citizen's Advice as being the best option out there [CAB were no use to me at all and are now staffed by a form of triage advisor which leaves you unable to get timely advice anyway. Nothing is as it should be or as it could be. As a ridiculous comparison, imagine placing all those with diabetic damage to their extremities, such as mishapen fingers, and place those into jobs as crane operators, typists, surgeons; this is no more ridiculous than placing a person who can explode over something, which is not even 'visible' to work colleagues, alongside many other people who have no real idea of the nature of that person's pre-existing reasons for being a 'substantial risk'.  
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    Angelite · 4 months ago
    Seems like the government have already made up their minds and set things in motion!
    I was awarded low care & mobility for PIP last September.  I am also in the support group for ESA, or So I thought!
    I’ve just had my quarterly bank statement showing my payment of contributory DWP EESA payment in the first week of September.  The next payment due two weeks later shows as DWP JSA!
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    James · 4 months ago
    I get a very small amount of 'income protection insurance' on a monthly basis, (a much smaller amount than I was paying to be covered for, but I had a delayed diagnosis, and the insurers pay me, based on the amount of my last 12 months income, when i could not work properly due to very severe illness)
    If they change the WCA and unfairly reclassify me, and therefore stop my none means tested ESA, then my only option would be to try and claim a means tested benefit, which means my insurance payments would be deducted, so I will lose most of my income, and that could force me onto the street. In other words, if they do this, then there was no point whatsoever in paying into my insurance policy for the last twenty years. 
    They are criminals.
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    Annonyous · 4 months ago
    If (someone from) the DWP (with a few hours training) do suddenly find you capable for work, (when you clearly are not), are there options to sue the DWP? OR/and the individual people who have wrongly assessed you? Or would one have to wait until some damage occured, to themselves, due to their illness, before they could sue them? What are the options, and are their solicitors who specialise in this kind of work? Thankyou.
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    The dogmother · 4 months ago
    So let's cut it down,let's chop off all the elements that consider someone as too unwell to work.. That will do the trick. Thus rendering them capable of work..um,no. Thats not how life is. Build a house ,take away its bathroom, bedrooms, floors and ceilings.. it's Still a house and uninhabitable one. Chopping bits off to save money dosent work. Who would want that house? Nobody,any more than employers want people who can barely function on a daily basis. The entire thing is as ludicrous as the house story. 
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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Angie · 4 months ago
    A real life example of why, in the real world, these changes will not get more disabled people into work and are simply a means of reducing the benefits bill. I am currently LCWRA, the proposed changes would make me fit for work.
    1. Most employers now insist that all employees spend at least some time 'in the office' - working from home exclusively simply isn't available so removing these descriptors will simply result in those claimants ultimately being sanctioned for not getting a job which doesn't exist.
    2. Even if a job is exclusively working from home, thus avoiding any issues with mobility, expecting someone who is incontinent on a daily basis to also engage in work activities or actual work is simply inhumane. What do they do if in the middle of a telephone call? Sit there until it's finished? Say 'Excuse me, I've just sh*t myself, I need to go clean up?'. Incidentally, for anyone not in the know, cleaning up can take an hour or more, longer if you have to wait for assistance and the dogsbody is at the supermarket buying your food.
    3. And removing social interaction issues! How do you even get through an interview (online or by phone totally horrifies me, I have enough problems managing face to face when I can at least attempt to read the body language!) if your social skills are non-existent? 
    So assuming there is a job out there which a 62 year old incontinent, agoraphobic, autistic wheelchair user can do exclusively from home, what might it look like? Stuffing envelopes springs to mind, though no doubt that's just been replaced with spam email now. I cannot do phones, online meetings, occasional visits to 'the office' or training elsewhere, and whatever I am required to do, I need to be able to do it lying down, for no longer than an hour a day and probably no more than 3 days a week. Given it's likely to be a minimum wage job, that would give me £33 a week, with the ultimate outcome that I'd still be on benefits, probably exactly the same amount as I get now, at least until they sanction me for not getting a better job.

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      David · 4 months ago
      @Angie I totally agree. Trouble is the labour party are just as bad.
      So basically we are all screwed.

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      The dogmother · 4 months ago
      @Angie Did you share your thoughts on the consultation page? I think you should,it's anonymous. 
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    Fergus · 4 months ago
    And what about the safety of work coaches and training staff etc? If they need to deal with people who pose a substantial risk?
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    fibrofred · 5 months ago
    The following link might help to persuade people to put in their responses or attend the consultations on these very unfair and cruel proposals.  


    This is the ususal condescending DWP slant of how they are 'trying to support people's mental health by working from home' but no mention of how badly these proposals will affect people's mental health when forced to do work they aren't capable of!! 

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    BlissC · 5 months ago
    I took the test and was quite interested to see that I came out at 'Limited capacity for work'. I work part-time (18.5 hrs a week), and have done for the last twenty years since being diagnosed with a neurological condition. I'm a wheelchair user and have a number of chronic conditions. Admittedly, for the past 10 years I've worked mainly from home. I suspect that with the current WCA rules (i.e. if the highlighted sections in the test were scoring), I'd probably come out in the LCWRA group.

    The government's constant moving of the goal-posts and demonising of disabled people is appalling, but I do think that sometimes some people underestimate their capacity for work. With Covid and much more use of technology, many employers have seen that allowing staff to work from home isn't just possible but can bring benefits to both the employer and employee. I'm not saying that working with chronic conditions is easy; it's not, and there are days when I'd much rather be horizontal and watching daytime TV than working, but the benefits of me working are immeasurable to both my physical and mental health (and my bank balance!). My employer wasn't keen on me working from home initially, but after seeing how much more productive I am when I'm working from home, they quickly changed their views.

    The Equality Act and the requirement for the provision of reasonable adjustments give a lot of protection for disabled people in work, and there is a lot of support available, both from the third sector and Access to Work if you're supported to find the support (I've never understood though why the government don't publicise A2W!). There will always be people in society with very serious illnesses who quite clearly do not have the capacity to work, and at the other end of the scale, healthy people who are fully capable of work. The difficulty lies with the grey area in the middle where there are some, who with the right support, may be capable of some work. The government haven't got that right, and as usual are trying to push changes through without actually consulting with those most affected by the changes and their representatives. 
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    Maggie-May · 5 months ago
     I would consider taking the test only if I was sure that my details aren't recorded and it won't affect the benefits I am now getting (PIP/ESA) Please can someone confirm that is the case before I do so?
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    Sharon N · 5 months ago
    I've just completed the response - it was exhausting but I feel I've done a good thing. Its scary to think that people are going to be forced to put themselves and others in danger because of manipulating application forms. The more this is publicised, the better. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      The dogmother · 4 months ago
      @Sharon N Well done. I did too. Trying to put it into words that made sense was a bit difficult.  This needs to go nation wide. 
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    fibrofred · 5 months ago
    In a nutshell - if these proposals succeed it means anyone who is currently in the ESA Support Group solely because they meet the mobility descriptor, won't be eligible for the Support Group .  DWP are obviously really pushing these proposals with such a tight deadline & clearly want to avoid protests having only 5 consultation dates (none in Northern Ireland).
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Annonymous · 5 months ago
    How many people are in the support group because they qualify under the substantial risk rules? Im guessing that must be tens of thousands of severely ill people, with many different types of disease? 
    If the DWP carry out their malicious threats, how many of those severely ill people are likely not to have enough money to pay the rent?!!!
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    Clare · 5 months ago
    I was medically retired from work My job benefit fraud It would be ironic if I was now told That I needed to look for work With my health continuing to get worse since Then Please note This comment has taken me over ten mins to write  So filling in forms for me is a nightmare
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Angie · 4 months ago
      @Clare Ironically, ATOS recommended I be medically retired from my job, then found me fit for work when they did my WCA. OK, the criteria aren't the same, but I still find it baffling, particularly as I got support group on appeal.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Kerry · 5 months ago
    So what do you have to score to get into the LWC group, I’m in the ESA SG st the moment and just have to have 1 descriptor.
    No universal credit.

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    Maggie · 5 months ago
    I'm just confused by all of this. They keep changing the initials from one thing to another. I can't keep track of this at all. I get ESA and I am in the Support Group so I must have received enough points for that. I did your test and it gave me 6 points because my previous points come from the descriptors which are going to be removed. I think? They have taken the benefit away from me that many times and I have had to appeal and appeal. When, around 10 plus years ago I tried to get voluntary work to see if it would help me "cope" I was told that they would stop my benefit if I did even unpaid work, as it was work. When I said I could work from home I was offered an interview some 10 miles away from home. I was given a "job coach" who looked at me in horror as each time we met I dissolved into tears. Do they not realise that some people would love to feel of use to society but life has made it impossible for them to do so. 
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    frmarcus · 5 months ago
    As an ESA SG member I'm not necessarily concerned that fewer claimants qualify if the criteria are reasonable - and fairly, consistently applied by DWP (as is NOT the case per appeal success rates).  I am concerned at the frequent moving of the disability goal-posts and/or changes of policy - inc this announcement that WCA may be tougher...  yet is due for abolishment.  

    DWP needs to set definitive disability thresholds and stick to them - only amending when medical knowledge suggests they should.  In the past new benefits have been rushed in untested (from DWP's perspective PIP is a failure as replacement for DLA as has proved far more expensive - because it was rushed in to replace a 'too expensive' DLA).  Doubtless the same could be said for the WCA - which was itself designed as tougher than its predecessor but - yet again - is now being claimed by DWP to be insufficiently tough.

    One thing we can assert uncontroversially: DWP may think too many are found LCWRA - but unemp and incap benefit rates are about as derisory as they could be.  For this reason, while there may be a hard core of claimants who could work half-or more time and therefore increase their income but prefer not to and languish on low-paid benefit, I can't imagine this is the case for more than a small-ish minority.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Elli · 5 months ago
    I’m currently in the ESA LCWRA group and have just taken the worst case scenario test.  I scored 45 points, but don’t think the government should burden vulnerable people with the burden of overcoming barriers to suitable employment.  Instead, I think the job search, interview, hiring and review of vulnerable people should be the full responsibility of the government - in a nod to their duty to safeguard vulnerable adults from avoidable harm and distress, which would likely take the shape of relapses in our conditions, and worse in some cases. I’ve also said this in my response to the consultation.
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