Evidence given to the Commons Work and Pensions committee by the DWP and by Atos last week has shed a little more light on the confusion around which groups of employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants are currently being sent for a work capability (WCA) medical assessment.{jcomments on}

Currently there is a backlog of 700,000 cases awaiting assessment. According to information given to the BBC by the DWP:

  • 394,000 are new claimants for ESA.
  • 234,000 are existing ESA claimants whose re-referrals have been delayed.
  • 84,000 are people still on incapacity benefit who have not yet been moved over to ESA.

New claims
New claims are still being sent to Atos for assessment in the normal way, but because of the backlog they are taking much longer to be seen.

IB to ESA reassessments
There are still 80,000 incapacity benefit claimants waiting to be assessed for ESA, a process that should have been completed in April of this year. In evidence to the committee atos said that these referrals had been stopped. However, the DWP told the committee that this was incorrect and that they are now forwarding these cases to Atos at the rate of 5,000 a month. It is therefore likely to be well into next year before the final incapacity benefit claimants are assessed.

Existing ESA claimant re-referrals
According to the DWP and to Atos no existing ESA claimants are being reviewed, Atos call this a re-referral, unless there has been a change in their circumstances.

However, Atos did say that they have existing ESA claimants who had already been passed to them by the DWP before they stopped re-referrals but who they have not yet assessed. So some existing claimants may still find themselves called for a medical in the coming months.

You can download the transcript of the Atos evidence to the work and pensions committee here.

You can download the transcript of the DWP evidence to the work and pensions committee here.


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