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The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) has been applied since Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was introduced in October 2008. From late 2010 the Department for Work and Pensions also began reassessing the remaining incapacity benefit claimants for ESA. The WCA also now determines whether Universal Credit claimants are eligible for an additional amount for ill health or disability, and what if any work-related requirements apply to them.

The WCA has been controversial from the outset. Despite changes made following reviews, welfare rights and disability organisations continue to voice concerns about the assessment and about the way it has been applied. In February 2018 the Work and Pensions Committee warned that failings in the assessment and decision making processes for ESA (and for PIP) had resulted in a “pervasive lack of trust” that could undermine both benefits. On 5 March 2019 the DWP announced plans for “transforming the delivery of assessment services” by bringing together the separate WCA and PIP assessment into one unified, integrated service from 2021.

This debate pack provides background information as well as parliamentary material, press articles, and further suggested reading which Members may find useful when preparing for this debate.


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