DWP launches WCA changes consultation aimed at reducing the number of claimants in ‘limited capability for work-related activity’ group

Wed,6 September 2023
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The DWP has launched a consultation on work capability assessment (WCA) reform so that Disabled people assessed as having a limited capability for work are, in their words, not “held back” from the “opportunity” to work.

The WCA is used in universal credit (UC) and employment support allowance (ESA) to determine what work-related conditions a Disabled person must meet to keep getting their benefit.  

If you are found to have a ‘limited capability for work-related activity’ (LCWRA), no work-related activity conditions will apply to you, and you will also be entitled to an extra amount of benefit. 

The March 2023 Health and Disability White Paper proposed abolishing the WCA and instead replacing it with one health and disability assessment – the personal independence payment (PIP) assessment. 

This reform would then be rolled out, for new claims only, on a staged, geographical basis from no earlier than 2026/2027. 

However, the DWP says that any changes to the WCA will be introduced from 2025. 

WCA changes proposed 

The DWP suggests the following options for WCA activity descriptor reform: 


  • Remove the mobilising activity entirely or; 
  • Amend the LCWRA mobilising descriptor to bring it in line with the equivalent descriptor in PIP, replacing 50 metres with 20 metres for both descriptors within the LCWRA activity or; 
  • Reduce the points awarded for the limited capability for work (LCW) Mobilising descriptors. 

Getting About (for LCW only) 

  • Remove the getting about activity entirely or; 
  • Reduce the points awarded for LCW descriptors for getting about. 

Coping with social engagement

  • Remove the coping with social engagement activity entirely or; 
  • Reduce the points awarded for LCW descriptors for coping with social engagement. 

Absence or loss of bowel/bladder control  

  • Remove the continence activity entirely or; 
  • Amend the LCWRA continence descriptor so that claimants are required to experience symptoms ‘daily’ rather than ‘weekly’ or; 
  • Reduce the points awarded for the LCW continence descriptors. 

Substantial risk to health 

In addition, the DWP proposes two options relating to whether someone meets the provision of “substantial risk to their physical or mental health or to the physical or mental health of someone else if found not to have a have a LCWRA”. 

  • Amend the LCWRA substantial risk definition to reflect that this would not apply where a person could take part in tailored or a minimal level of work preparation activity and/or where reasonable adjustments could be put in place to enable that person to engage with work preparation or; 
  • Remove the LCWRA risk criteria entirely, so that anyone who would meet the current threshold would instead be placed in LCW. 

The deadline for responses to the consultation is 30 October 2023. 

The DWP is also holding five face-to-face stakeholder events in the following locations - 

  • Birmingham - Wednesday 20 September 2023; 
  • Leeds - Wednesday 27 September 2023; 
  • Edinburgh - Thursday 5 October 2023; 
  • Cardiff - Wednesday 11 October 2023; and 
  • London - Wednesday 18 October 2023. 

The Consultation on WCA activities and descriptors,  how to respond and the above stakeholder events is available from gov.uk. 

DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser Ken Butler said: “There was no hint in the White Paper published earlier this year that the DWP would be proposing changes to the WCA. 

“Another example of it trumpeting its acceptance of the need for trust and transparency and then doing the opposite. 

“The DWP says any WCA changes will not be introduced until 2025. 

"Can that be trusted? Would removing a WCA descriptor without replacement be able to be put into operation sooner? 

“In March 2023 there were 1,676,770 people claiming UC on health grounds. This caseload is dominated by the LCWRA group made up of 1.12 million Just under two-thirds of WCAs result in a LCWRA classification. 

 “The Government’s proposed changes to the WCA in reality are less to do with helping Disabled people into work than a cynical attempt to impose conditionality and to reduce benefit expenditure. 

 “The consultation proposals include excluding consideration of someone’s mobility problems altogether, and also removing the assessment category of work having a substantial risk to health. 

 “This means that Disabled people may be forced to look for or obtain work beyond their capabilities. 

 “Help and support can be offered to Disabled people to get us into work without work capability changes, conditionality, and sanctions.”