Work and Pensions written statement – made on 23rd November 2010.
The Government are pleased to announce the publication of Professor Malcolm Harrington's independent review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). This is a substantial and thorough review of the WCA which the Government fully endorse. Alongside the review, the Government are publishing their response which sets out how we will implement the review's recommendations.
A central part of the Government's plans to reform the welfare state involves action to tackle incapacity benefit dependency. More than 2.2 million people in Britain today are on incapacity benefits and many have been abandoned, with little or no contact from the welfare state for as long as a decade or more.
Through the WCA we seek to change this, and to try to find a better way forward for those people. From April 2011 we will put 1.6 million people, all of those on incapacity benefits who are not close to retirement, through an independent medical assessment, the WCA. Those found fit for work or with the potential to return to work will be given support to help them do so, those who are deemed unable to work will continue to receive full support.
We believe that the principles of the WCA are right but we are clear that the process of assessment must be fair and honest about people's potential. We do not wish to see people who are genuinely unable to work put in a position where they are expected to do so.
Professor Harrington's review sets out how we can refine the system and significantly improve the process so that it continues to be fit for purpose. We intend to implement these changes as quickly as possible. Many will be put in place in time for the first assessments from the national migration in April 2011.
We will continue to review the WCA and to make further changes where necessary. We have invited Professor Harrington to continue in his current role as independent reviewer for another year and to make further recommendations to us as appropriate.
Copies of both documents are available in the Vote Office.