For years the DWP has been refusing to publish statistics on how many universal credit (UC) claimants are found fit for work and how many have limited capability for work (LCW) or limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA). 

However, the secret is finally out following a parliamentary question which actually got a response.


In January 2022 there were 51,600 UC decisions and 6,985 ESA decisions:

62% had LCWRA for UC and 66% for ESA

20% had LCW for UC and 14% for ESA.

18% were FFW for UC and 20% for ESA.


In February 2022 there were 55,600 UC decisions and 7,008 ESA decisions:

 61% had LCWRA for UC and 65% for ESA

17% had LCW for UC and 14% for ESA.

22% were FFW for UC and 21% for ESA.


In March 2022 there were 66,200 UC decisions and 7,745 ESA decisions:

59% had LCWRA for UC and 66% for ESA

17% had LCW for UC and 13% for ESA.

24% were FFW for UC and 21% for ESA.


So, the percentage of claimants found fit for work over the three month period was very similar, with 21.3% of UC claimants found fit and 20.6% of ESA claimants.  

The percentage of claimants placed in the limited capability for work category was 18% for UC and 13.6% for ESA.  These claimants have some work-related conditions attached to receiving benefit.

But over the whole quarter, on average only 60.6% of UC claimants were placed in the limited capability for work-related activity group as opposed to 65.6% of ESA claimants.  Claimants in this group are eligible for a higher rate of benefits without any work conditionality attached

If UC LCWRA rates had been the same as ESA rates then over 8,500 additional claimants would have been found to have LCWRA over this quarter.

In the course of a year that’s over 34,000 claimants who are missing out on being found to have LCWRA.

Of equal concern is the fact that 1.2 million ESA claimants are waiting to be forcibly transferred from ESA to UC.  There will be no WCA imposed at the point at which claimants are transferred, but they are likely to face a further assessment at some point in the future.

And whilst the WCA for both benefits is virtually identical, it seems clear that there is a difference in the way the tests are applied. 

You can read the full written answer on the parliament website.


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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Teresa Ferguson · 1 years ago
    Hello, my brother has mental health and on his sick/fit note from his Gp mental health illness he gave the line for 13 weeks. The benefits agency has written and phoned him that they want him to come into their office to have a look at his face. I am very angry as I support my brother every day with his twin boys. Can they do this after a Gp has written a sick line. Can you please give me advice. Should I go to my MP I at a loss and receiving this letter/phone call has made the situation worse. I thank you so much for any help advice offerd. 
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    Starcat · 1 years ago
    For what it is worth I changed from ESA to UC several years ago by choice and it has been one of the best things I have experienced to do with the government benefits for the disability system.  I have fibromyalgia which is very variable and, like the majority of people,  I do actually hate sitting around doing nothing.  ESA permitted earnings only allowed 12 months after which you had to commit to 16 hours a week all the time (which I simply cannot manage despite repeated attempts) or stop all earning efforts.  UC worked with me to settle on an average of 10 hours per week or 40 hours a month - which I could do.  I then became worse and am now LCWRA - but can still do a couple of hours here or there as able without it causing any issues - my advisors know what I do when and why and it keeps my mental health higher.  I have been treated as an individual, do not worry about "doing something I shouldn't" and no longer feel like someone is looking over my shoulder the whole time.

    The guides from this site were/are instrumental in dealing with the questionnaires and assessments and without them I would be in trouble from the application process however I think it important that people consider UC can work beneficially in a way previous benefits could not.
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    Wo · 1 years ago
    Just another con from the dwp. I had 3 assessments and was ripped off in everycase. Personally I have lost all faith in the dwp of actually giving you a fair assessment. 
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