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A Better Work Capability Assessment is Possible says Demos report

20 February 2018

This Demos report, A Better Work Capability Assessment is Possible, is based on evidence from a 4-year research project.

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“This is not a report about the failings of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) – not because the WCA can escape the accusation of failure, but because this is already widely known. Instead, the report aims to set out how a better WCA is possible.”

The report has four parts

  • a comparative study looking at how other countries conduct disability assessments

  • a new survey of the public, asking them detailed questions about both disabled people

  • six focus groups with the public

  • six focus groups with Maximus WCA assessors, welfare-to-work providers, disability charity workers and disability activists

The report focuses on three issues

  1. how the WCA decides if a claimant’s impairments are ‘genuine’ in deciding if they should be eligible for incapacity benefits

  2. how the WCA decides if someone is capable of work

  3. the WCA’s role in establishing if disabled claimants should be subject to conditionality and sanctions

Recommendations of the report

  • The Government should audio record all assessments and do sample checks annually

  • Assessors should be required to ask claimants if they have an explanation for any evidence which seemingly contradicts their description of their impairments, rather than jumping to the decision that they are wrong

  • Change the ‘descriptors’ so that they reflect the realities of the British labour market, taking into account the effect of multiple impairments – likely the case for at least half of all disabled people

  • The Government should reduce the extent of benefit conditionality disabled people face and strengthen safeguards to ensure disabled people are not unfairly sanctioned for failing to meet impossible conditions
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