You can keep up with all the latest news on changes to the work capability assessment (WCA) for universal credit (UC) and employment and support allowance (ESA) on this page.

Abolition of the Work Capability Assessment

The government is proposing to abolish the work capability assessment (WCA), the test used to decide if a claimant is fit for work. 

At present, a universal credit (UC) claimant or employment and support allowance (ESA) claimant can be placed in one of three groups:

LCWRA (UC) – limited capability for work-related activity/ Support group (ESA).  Claimants in this group get an additional payment and do not have to undertake any work-related activities

LCW – limited capability for work.  Claimants in this group have to move towards seeking work and are subject to sanctions, but are not obliged to apply for jobs.

FFW – fit for work.  Claimants in this group have to seek work and are subject to the full range of sanctions.

Under the proposed new system, a claimant who receives any rate of PIP will receive an extra health element, paid in their UC. 

But no-one will have a WCA and no-one will be deemed to have LCWRA or LCW.

Instead, medically unqualified work coaches will judge what, if any, work or work-related activity a claimant is able to undertake.

This new system is not expected to begin to be introduced until 2026/27 for new claimants and 2029 for existing claimants.

In the meantime, the government has announced plans to make interim changes to the existing WCA, to cover the years before the WCA is abolished completely.  These changes are intended to make it more difficult to be found to have LCW or LCWRA.

These interim changes to the WCA are due to be introduced in 2025.

WCA Changes Timeline

 March 2023  Transforming Support: The Health and Disability White Paper is published. It proposes the abolition of the WCA.

September 2023  ‘Work Capability Assessment: Activities and Descriptors Consultation’ document is published.  It is a consultation on making interim changes to the WCA prior to its complete abolition.

September 2023  ‘Proposals to abolish the Work Capability Assessment’.  Commons briefing paper on the abolition of the WCA published

October 2023  Consultation on interim changes to the WCA ended on 30 October, 2023.

November 2023  DWP published its response to the work capability assessment consultation

2024  Legislation on interim changes to the WCA, to make it more stringent, scheduled to be introduced.

2025  Interim changes to the WCA scheduled take effect.

2026/27 UC health element, replacement for WCA, roll-out for new claimants to begin on a staged, geographical basis.

2029  UC health element roll-out for new claimants is completed in all geographical areas.

2029  Existing UC claimants begin to be moved onto UC health element

WCA Changes Latest News

28.11.23  Work capability assessment changes explained

21.11.23  Autumn statement live updates

19.10.23  WCA consultation, points to consider

13.10.23  Labour would scrap harsher WCA, DNS reports

02.10.23  Stride promises incentives for DWP heroes, firmer sanctions and human beings freed by work

26.09.23  More WCA reviews to be carried out, DWP warns

20.09.23  Free WCA consultation support for organisations

 15.09.23 Take the Worst Case WCA test

09.09.23  Consultation on slashing support group launched by DWP

16.05.23  Proposed WCA abolition update: no legal safeguards

27.03.23  Why are people so worried about the abolition of the WCA?

14.03.23  Spring budget and Health and Disability White Paper updates

What you can do

Encourage organisations to speak out

The changes to the WCA are not inevitable.

If the DWP sticks to its current timetable, the new rules will not be introduced until 2025, after the election.

If Labour wins, the changes will happen on their watch.

It will be entirely within the new secretary of state’s powers to pause the introduction of the changes, if they so choose.

Labour say they are planning to reform UC anyway.  So, it would make absolute sense for them to put these changes on hold whilst they carry out a review of the whole of UC, including the WCA.

If enough disability organisations lobby them on this, they may agree to do so.

Because the alternative is for Labour  to ignore the protests, push ahead with these dangerous, irresponsible and unresearched changes and take the blame if the result is obvious and avoidable harms, including possible deaths of claimants.

So, the next step is for disability organisations to begin gathering evidence, providing case studies and persuading those MPs who are persuadable of the likely harm that will be caused.

Some organisations may need encouragement and support from their members to take on this work.

But there is a genuine chance of stopping these proposals.

Of course, it will then be a question of whether Labour comes up with anything better.

But that’s a battle for another day.

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Colin. · 8 days ago
    I have been messaged through my journal about a review of my universal credit,and it's been some years since receiving the lcwra benefit,and I'm unsure what this review will be even though it says to check I'm getting the right amount of benefits, I am just curious 🧐
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Birdie799 · 2 months ago
    Hi. I've not posted here before, so I apologise if this is the wrong place. Both my daughter and I received an inheritance - just over 16000 so had to close our claims - esa for me and uc for her. We have now made new claims - obvs I've applied for UC. My daughters mental health is such that she's exempt from council tax and yet all of a sudden she is now asked to go in for work focused interviews - she has sent off the application for disability and hasn't heard back. This is clearly wrong and having a Serious impact on her mental health - shes a definite suicide risk what can I do?
    As for myself, the same is happening, altho I have physical disability as well as MH issues and I've been claiming Pip for approx 8/9 years. I've not had a form to apply for disability component yet. Is the new system already in play? 
    Any advice  greatfully received! 
    Thankyou.

  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Carer7 · 4 months ago
    How do i get my daughter with learning disabilities to understand that she has to work . She cant set an alarm clock or plan a route to work . She would not understand at all . This is just terrible
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    SpaceKnight · 6 months ago
    Angry. 

    I am very angry. 

    These people are truly disgusting. 

    I am not a fan of any party but whenever the Conservatives try and 'save they day' (with regards to the economy), rather than dealing with the (causal) issues directly, they always go to; 'raid the social care 'pot'. 

    They (or rather, their 'unelected think tanks') have no idea what they are talking about but they are willing to plough ahead, 'damn the consequences' and move on with their lives. 

    Then having non-medically trained job coaches make decisions that you (effectively) can't challenge? 

    Absolutely not. 

    Such an 'abhorrent' system would most probably be (successfully) challenged in court anyway (the same way PIP was when it was introduced and had 'cut out' the 'provisions' for those that had mental health conditions). 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Will Gough · 6 months ago
    Next time you hear PM, chancellor or DWP minister say ‘difficult decisions’ it’s really means ‘how it affects the Conservative Party, their reputation or how history will write about them. It has nothing to do with understanding, caring Conservatism. It won’t affect their multi million pound lifestyle. Sadly Labour and other parties follow the same pattern of thinking
    I didn’t choose 10 years ago to have a seizure then 1000’s more, or choose depression, or choose to stop breathing…nobody chooses to be disabled. 
    as B&W say…give assurances in law that if trying work doesn’t‘work out’ then you still retain benefits. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    JC · 6 months ago
    Is there a source for the WCA legislation being brought forward in 2024? Mel Stride said things would only come into effect in 2025, after the general election.

    The issue being if they introduce legislstion prior to the election it's then on Labour to repeal it, and it doesn't seem like they would be opposed given their current rhetoric being almost identical to that of the Conservatives. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Terry · 6 months ago
    I am 56 & have neurological disability. It makes me feel as though, who will attempt to take me on at this age & with the Epilepsy. I can't drive whilst in this condition & for where I live the public transport being so poor, how am I going to my place of work? 
    I was made redundent from my last proper job in 2002 & I have not had a full-time permanent job for over 20 years. 
    Between that time I have been for jobs in relation with my previous job & got told I am 'too experienced or too qualified'. I gave up in the end due to fact they were hiding my epilepsy as the reasoning why they wouldn't give me any job. 
    I did agency work too. I got offered 3/6-month contracts, but after a few days I was getting told I was no longer required. I once went into an agency, who were offering me a 3-month, with 3 sheets of paper for the Agency, Company & Myself to sign, simular to a footballer signing a new contract. The chap at the agency told me 'We don't things that way, so I just tore them up, threw in the air & walked out.   
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Toni · 6 months ago
    Have filled out the form, yet again it's aimed at voters, and fuels the idea that people who are ill or disabled are just faking it all so they can live a life of conning the system. 
    Let the people who have decided that the changes are needed live just one month in any of the people who are claiming now and work at  this brilliant job you can do they wouldn't even last a week.
    I'm sick to death of the government any party always looking for ways for the sick, disabled and elderly to get less money. 
    I can see this leading to many, many more people taking there own life.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      scott · 3 months ago
      @Toni I do really feel u.I told the job centre to live in my shoes and all I got was a look and smirk as to say(ive got more important things to do).Im still at a loss even now BUT dont let the buggers get you down,if you do they win.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Kirsty P · 6 months ago
    I just despair.  I’m a 52 year old who has chronic ill health, both physical and mental.  I haven’t worked for many years and my GP doesn’t think I’ll ever be able to work again.  What’s the point in all this?  I’m really concerned about the removal of the at risk thing.  What will happen about carers?  Will they be forced to look for work?  I literally cannot take anymore.  I don’t want to become one of their suicide statistics, even though they deny them 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Christopher .S · 6 months ago
    Is there a cut-off point when you reach a certain age that you no longer need a WCA?
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      KABTT · 4 months ago
      @Annie Yes they do it brutally, no prior warning I'm not retirement age yet - due to the changes in state pension age - but my co tenant is, dwp stopped ESA out of the blue.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Fred · 4 months ago
      @Annie Your rent and some of the col payments should still be in payment. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Annie · 6 months ago
      @Christopher .S I just had it cut off when l hit 66. Retirement age.
      UC and lwrca, cost of living, rent and community tax rebates all stopped.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Kirsty P · 6 months ago
      @Christopher .S When you reach state pension age
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Kerry · 6 months ago
    What about ESA SG people. Does this apply to them also as it only states in the reading as UC?
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    The dogmother · 6 months ago
    That is all so very informative, and gives a glimmer of hope. Think hope is all we have. 
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