The houses of Parliament in Westminster at night

Benefits assessments to be reformed

The Government will today announce it will reform the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). This is to help more people with chronic conditions who can – and want to – work find a job.

WCA is the process used to determine what level of support people receive under Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

The review will investigate how people receiving ESA can get the support they need to find employment without putting their benefits at risk during their job hunt.

The Work and Pensions Secretary, Damian Green, said he wanted “targeted and personalised support” for people with chronic conditions while they look for work.

What are Work Capability Assessments?

ESA is a benefit for people who find it difficult to work due to a health condition or disability.

People claiming ESA must attend a face-to-face assessment where they’re asked a number of questions about their condition. This is known as a Work Capability Assessment.

The assessment determines whether people will be placed in the support group, or the work-related activity group.

Those in the support group receive a higher rate of ESA and are not expected to work or look for work. People in the work-related activity group must meet work-related conditions, such as attending work-focused interviews. The payment for this group is limited to 12 months.

A flawed system

Michelle Mitchell, our Chief Executive, said: “Since its inception the Work Capability Assessment has failed to recognise the fluctuating nature of conditions like MS and the debilitating impact of their more ‘hidden’ symptoms. We welcome the Government’s plans to review this assessment and to improve the support available to people who may be able to work.

“We are keen to help create a system that makes more sense. However, it must be recognised that many people with long-term progressive conditions will simply be too unwell to work and no amount of extra employment support will change that.”

Make welfare make sense

We’ve been calling on the Government to make sure the welfare system makes sense for those who rely on it.

As part of our MS: Enough campaign, we’ll be reviewing the Government’s proposals and what they mean for people with MS.