Psychologists Call For Reform Of The Work Capability Assessment

Psychologists from the British Psychological Society (BPS) have today (9 June) called for an ‘end-to-end redesign’ of the controversial Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

To qualify for the sickness benefit Employment and Support Alllowance, sick and disabled people must undergo periodical medical assessments to show the are ‘too unwell to work’.

The BPS says there is a ‘growing body of evidence that seriously ill people are being inappropriately subjected to WCA’.

They argue that ‘the WCA does not effectively measure fitness for work and that its application is producing inappropriate outcomes for claimants’.

BPS cites the outcome of a 2014 review into the WCA by the Work and Pensions Select Committee, in which they state:

“Simply rebranding the WCA by taking on a new provider will not solve the problems… This will be time consuming and complex, but the re-designed ESA assessment processes needs to be in place by the time a completely new contract, involving multiple providers is tendered in 2018.”

The government must now ‘expedite a full review of the assessment and its processes’, says BPS.

Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes, the President of the British Psychological Society, said:

“There is now a significant body of evidence that the WCA is failing to assess people’s fitness for work accurately and appropriately, with people who are seriously physically and mentally ill being found fit for work and those with acute, transient episodes being assessed as lacking capacity and treated in the same way as those with a longer term prognosis.

“Appeals against the decisions are running at approximately 50 per cent and around half of those appeals are upheld. The cost to the taxpayer from this alone is £50m, with a similar amount being spent on reassessment.

“The DWP is now under significant pressure to publish data on the number of people who have died whilst claiming out-of-work disability benefits.”