There are strong indications that the government is set to announce the abolition of the work capability assessment (WCA) and the introduction of automated sanctions for UC claimants.

Members have been contacting Benefits and Work over the weekend after seeing media reports that the work capability assessment (WCA) is to be abolished.  The main source of the reports seems to be a briefing obtained by Torsten Bell of the Resolution Foundation thinktank.

According to the document:

“A Health and Disability White Paper will be published on the day of the budget outlining our plans to scrap the Work Capability Assessment.  Under the current system disabled people need to have a health assessment and be found incapable of work to receive additional income support through the benefits system.  Scrapping the Work Capability Assessment is the biggest reform to the welfare system in a decade, meaning that disabled people can try work without fear of losing their benefits, and reducing the number of assessments needed to qualify for health-related benefits.”

There will also be changes to the sanctions regime in universal credit (UC)

Changes to Universal Credit will include . . . Strengthening the application of the Universal Credit sanctions regime. This includes additional training for Jobcentre Work Coaches to ensure they are applying sanctions effectively, including for claimants who do not look for or take up employment, and automating administrative elements of the sanctions process, including sending automated messages to claimants who fail to meet their Work Coach and take active steps to move into work or increase their earnings.

Whilst abolishing the WCA  may sound like good news, it does very much depend on what - if anything - is put in its place.

For example, if there is no longer a WCA then how will it be decided whether a claimant will be eligible for additional payments because they are unlikely ever to be able to work?   Will this be somehow combined with PIP or will there simply be no additional payment for new claimants?

In addition, who will decide which claimants should be subject to sanctions if they don’t seek work, because they say their health conditions prevents them doing so?

The alleged changes to the sanctions regime are much less uncertain and clearly bad news.  UC sanctions are already at record levels, so ‘strengthening’ them can only bring greater misery.

Ensuring work coaches are ‘applying sanctions effectively’ is also likely to be bad news for claimants.  As the DWP have for years refused to publish the result of their own research into whether sanctions are effective in getting claimants back into work, it is not clear what ‘effectively’ can mean other than more harshly.

And the idea that sanctions notices are going to be sent out automatically by DWP software can only add to the nightmare that claimants trying to communicate with the DWP already experience

At the moment there is very little information available about these changes..

But there can be little doubt that change is coming.  Back in January we reported on rumours that the WCA was to be scrapped.

And as far back as September 2021 we revealed that the DWP would be issuing new contracts under which assessments for both PIP and the WCA would be carried out by the same company in any given area.

At the time the reason for the change was not clear.  But if the WCA is to be gradually phased out, and elements of it possibly combined with PIP,  then it obviously doesn’t make sense to have a separate company doing WCAs.

We should stress that it is much too soon to start worrying about these changes.

We won’t have more details until Wednesday and it will probably take years for any changes to the WCA to be consulted on and passed into law.

In addition, it is likely that the changes will apply only to new claimants and not to existing ones.

But, whatever is happening, we’ll make sure you are kept fully informed.

Benefits and Work members can download a 30 page guide to Ways to prevent and overturn ESA and UC sanctions from this page.

Update:  there's more details of the abolition of the WCA and the introduction of the new UC health element here.

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Jim · 1 years ago
    They say pip assesment will be the only assesment to wether someone is capable to work yet pip has absolutely nothing to do with how capable to work a person is. I know of a couple people who work full time and receive pip lol
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    Concerned Lady · 1 years ago
    My health conditions are for life not short term too
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      Karen Lord · 5 months ago
      @Concerned Lady My daughter was deemed fit firvwork by an assessor. She is 4ft.2.  Has a hole in her heart, advanced bone disease and end stage renal failure requiring dialysis 4 days a week.  A plastic line protrudes out from her jugular vein which is used to connect her to the life support machine.   I said no she instead challenged it in court.  We won.  We were in court around 5 mins and didnt even need to speak once.  I'd answered all the questions on their huge booklet of questions.  
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Paws. · 1 years ago
      @Concerned Lady
      Same, some dating back to childhood
       There's not a day goes by I'm not in the midst of one or more of my conditions. Its my life in a nutshell.


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    Concerned Lady · 1 years ago
    Hi everyone I was on universal credit before and recently very only just been awarded pip and LCWRA mine had to go to a tribunal hearing this was 2023 now I hear they're scrapping LCWRA I'm very worried I've alot of health issues Epilepsy Osteoarthritis Asthma Thyroid troubles Anxiety Hearing problems I'm not sure how ill be affected as I get UC and LCWRA and PIP 
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      ClaireLO · 1 years ago
      @Concerned Lady Hi concerned lady, yes I know it's timelined for then; the other problem we all have is, not knowing what Labour will do with these proposals. As usual we are left to worry about the future and can only ever hope for some kind of clarity at some stage
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Concerned Lady · 1 years ago
      @ClaireLO It is possible it's happening in 2026-2027 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      ClaireLO · 1 years ago
      @Concerned Lady Hi there, you won't be affected yet, the summaries on here help clarify the time line. Best wishes 
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    Susie · 1 years ago
    When I saw the budget my thoughts were that they intend to let people work who are on disability benefits so they have evidence that person is capable of working. Hunt is known for his culling of welfare claimants 
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    Angel · 1 years ago
    What about people who have been Medically Retired, but have meagre pensions which are topped up by ESA? Are medical professionals going to be overturned by a civil servant in a job-centre? *PIP very happy to let ‘health assessors’ views trump those of medical professionals 🤬 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Chris · 1 years ago
      @Sad This country is a joke. The only people these government officials should be talking to is actual medical professionals. Obviously, if there is medical evidence in their possession it should be entirely up to the doctor whether this would impact work. Only they could make that decision not the claimant or benefits payer just the doctor as he knows what the conditions can do. Your condition for example would have medical evidence and should and cannot be contested and should be a lifetime award. Sorry for this.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Susie · 1 years ago
      @Sad Seems to be par for the course that they lie. I've heard they have targets of getting people off benefits and even possibly bonuses for people they do 
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      Sad · 1 years ago
      @Angel I used to get pip then they sent out a review form about a year and 3 months into my pip claim I was supposed to be on pip for 3 years before any kind of change but when I filled out that form to say there were no health changes changes because my health condition is permanent, hypertropic cardiomyopathy (basically a thickening of the heart wall), depression and add. They didn't accept it and made me go back for another assessment. needles to say the new assessor lied on various parts of things I had said and so inevitably got my pip stopped. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Paws · 1 years ago
    Iain Duncan Smith says 'Work is a health treatment'.
     we are all cured..yay!! 
    This government just gets deeper into madness the more I read. Let's see him drag himself to employment suffering from numerous health and mental health issues.
    You couldn't make it up. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      layla · 1 years ago
      @Paws @Paw that was my thing my friend has stroke on my point of view he can't do much he was at my house he has an accident (wet himself) he couldnt control himself 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      ClaireLO · 1 years ago
      @Paws As the father of universal credit you would only expect him to come out with that kind of nonsense. I was working in welfare benefits when that was all happening and saw the misery caused then.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Chris · 1 years ago
    Is LCWRA changing ?
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    Mr P · 1 years ago
    Pip as the new gateway sounds good news, I'm soft touch 2033, I hope my upcoming ESA has now hit the long grass. It seems folly to continue knowing it's result already, The issue is I believe nothing this current government says. Horrible state of affairs.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Angel · 1 years ago
    l I am on ten year pip review with a supposedly light touch review in 2029 - what happens then? I also on income related esa support group. What happens when they get rid of income related?
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    Bob · 1 years ago
    So we know now the dreaded WCA assessments are to be scrapped government says they will take some time to work out how it will work it could start in 2026 for new claiments by then we might have labour government which will have there own ideas. In meantime there is chaos in DWP as they are backlogged with dealing with new claims. I was told they are not doing repeat ESA assessments for the foreseeable future.  
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Bob · 1 years ago
      @TrueDefective All I. Government they don't live in the real world they have no idea what it's like for people struggling with just keeping warm and able to eat. It's about time we had a completely new party not the same old conservatives and labour 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Bob · 1 years ago
      @TrueDefective I know person who works for DWP and he said they are still dealing with new claims since pandemic they are backlogged with thousands they are trying to work through new claims
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      Bob · 1 years ago
      @TrueDefective I lost confidence in government a long time ago they say they understand about people struggling but don't live in the real world what do politicians know about struggling to pay bills and having to choose between eating or keeping warm. Let them live in the life of someone who does this. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Bob · 1 years ago
      @TrueDefective I know someone who works for DWP and he told me that due to the pandemic assessments face to face didn't start up properly till last year and they are backlogged with new claims to deal with. They was told to prioritise new claims. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      TrueDefective · 1 years ago
      @Bob
      Some good points, Bob. This news really stressed me out, but there are still hurdles before it comes to pass, plus a lengthy timeframe.

      I have a question though, you said you were told the DWP aren't doing reassessments for ESA for the foreseeable future, how confident are you that this is solid, reliable information? I'm not doubting you or your source, I guess I just need as much reassurance as I can get! Thank you so much.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Maria · 1 years ago
    I was awarded WCA but declined PIP - even tho both are managed by DWP! My PIP is currently at tribunal level. 
    I have 4 autoimmune conditions which cause fatigue and pain - not to mention brain fog - which flare unpredictably. 
    I can't commit to work - even from home. If I lose my WCA, I'll be made homeless.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Steve · 1 years ago
      @Maria I have been to court twice and won both times the judge will look at the law rather then trying to save the government money, my last appeal the judge gave me my award back within the first minute as attos had broken the law,keep fighting as the law is stronger then any assessment. 
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    Paul Guthrie · 1 years ago
    thx guys

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    Paul · 1 years ago
    It was mantioned that the proposals will reduce assessments not remove them.   I think the removal bit it what I mentioned previously.  I suspect ESA will be combined with PIP. Combining PIP and ESA is a back door for means testing,  Assessments are costing more than they save and any Tory would not like that unless idiology takes over.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      A EDWARDS · 1 years ago
      @Paul I agree with you,people like me on contribution based esa and some pip are finished  I can't get income based anything as my husband works and we just miss out on qualifying, I'm going yo be left penniless by these awful human beings who hate the sick and disabled and would be quite happy if we all just disappeared tomorrow and they wouldn't turn a hair how weather it was natural causes ir we couldn't take the pressure and worry any more and biwed out on our own,how many people will this push over the edge?
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Paul · 1 years ago
    Its taken 10 years but what the DWP are saying is the WCA is so tough people are scared to try work.  Scotland is in the process of showing here is a better way to treat the disabled and sick may be the reason for change in direction  The change is probably you can still claim with no assessment for 6-12 months after you find a job but need to go back on benifits. JA mentioned this.  Regarding sanctions, None attendence will rocket as asking a claiment to fund transport 10 times a fortnight and hope the train/bus runns on time is a trap.  There are less One Stop Shops and Work coaches to go around. Also if no work coach is available then you are likely to be sanctiond for none attendence.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    woops · 1 years ago
    Just read this 
    The new UC health element will be awarded to people who are receiving the UC standard allowance and any PIP element. In effect PIP will therefore act as a passporting benefit for this new UC health element.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Ginny52 · 1 years ago
      @woops PIP would be the new gateway benefit.
      ESA/UC would be irrelevant to disabled claimants unless I’ve misunderstood.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Angel · 1 years ago

    Work based on what you can do? I have way too many physical and mentally health problems- this is pushing me to the edge. I have not worked since early 90’s am in my 50’s now. I can’t do anything if they ask me what can I do. If they scrap medicals how do they assess your health none of this makes sense. Read somewhere it states voluntarily. They have instilled deep anxiety and fear into me. I will not cope.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Pat · 1 years ago
      @Bob Reassuring words thank you Bob
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      Bob · 1 years ago
      @Daz Hi yea don't get stressed it will take years and labour might be new government by then. The DWP are swamped at moment with dealing with new ESA claims. I was told they are not dealing with ESA re assessments just new claims as they are backlogged since lockdown. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      trev · 1 years ago
      @Shaun It was Labour who first introduced WCA, and also Sanctions as part of their New Deal for the unemployed. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Shaun · 1 years ago
      @Angel Labour may well be in charge by the time this comes out and you can expect them to be a tad fairer !
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Daz · 1 years ago
      @Angel Hi Angel, firstly, do not worry. The changes are going to take a few years before they are in place. I also have so many physical disabilities, I'll never be able to return to work. 
      With the advancements of AI (Artificial Intelligence) I suspect the government will be looking at AI in the future to make the decisions, this way they have no culpability, and also save a lot of money.
      Myself, like countless others no doubt, are forced to jump through every hoop, and have every letter proving our disabilities ranging from GPs to consultants, so all of us have always wondered why we're still persecuted, and have to prove to a 19yr old "Health care professional" that we are disabled. We can only hope these changes when implemented are for the better.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Sarah · 1 years ago
    I am petrified of what's been announced today myself I have only just been signed of from work i never got the full lwcra but I already have a full time job and a carer does this mean I'm now going to be forced back to work I am waiting on an operation on my spine but it's been delayed until September 2023?? I also get standard daily living care pip and full mobility pip

    My partner has severe mental health problems and does get esa support group and lwcra on uc is he now going to be forced back into work he also receives full daily living pip and full mobility pip will that be stopped now? 

    I'm petrified we're going to loose everything and won't be able to afford to live we're struggling as it is I'm so stressed 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Cally · 1 years ago
      @Sarah As long as you/partner get PIP you will still have the same money coming in, so don't worry. These changes won't come in for years yet anyway. Initially, around 2026/27 for new claimants then 2029 for people already on benefits. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      ClaireLO · 1 years ago
      @Sarah There is a really good summary on here under the White paper/budget news part that will help you with this
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Chris · 1 years ago
    Fit to work test been announced but no details of it.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    colette · 1 years ago
    So, what happens if you receive ESA and move to UC? Will you lose ESA and not receive anything in it's place?I'm in the support group automatically have enough points,have had for a long long time and i'm really worried because like many other I really can't work and if i lose my ESA then i won't be able to afford to live.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Bob · 1 years ago
      @colette As far as I know for people on ESA income based the migration to UC has been pushed back to 2028  that's what I understand 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      colette · 1 years ago
      @Sammy It's just so worrying, I have just gotten over the humiliation and distress of a PIP claim and i'm not sure i'm up for another fight i don't have anything left.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Sammy · 1 years ago
      @colette Same here! Yet another thing to worry about!
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Elaine · 1 years ago
    Hi does anyone know what might happen over the last week I have had a telephone consultation for the work capability assessment ,she never gave me any indication of a time for outcome and with these new rules expected tomorrow will I still get it if passed. I am now nearly 65 and wondering if I should worry I might get rejected for this.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      ClaireLO · 1 years ago
      @Elaine Hi Elaine, if you had a WCA that should still be processed as normal- these changes aren't in place yet. If you are on UC the decision should be posted on your journal fairly soon.
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