UK Government welcomes findings of Litchfield review of Work Capability Assessment | DWP press release | 12 December 2013

December 13, 2013


The ME Association are preparing our response to this.


Organisation: Department for Work & Pensions
Page history: Published 12 December 2013
Policy: Simplifying the welfare system and making sure work pays
Topics: Employment and Welfare


The government welcomes the fourth review of the Work Capability Assessment that says good progress and notable improvements have been made.

The government has welcomed the fourth independent review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which finds “good progress” has been made on implementing recommendations from previous reviews and “notable improvements” to the process already achieved.

The review, carried out by Dr Paul Litchfield, Chief Medical Officer for BT Group, concludes that DWP is doing well in implementing the recommendations of Professor Harrington and has made further recommendations for improvements.

Minister of State for Disabled People Mike Penning said:

We welcome the valuable recommendations Dr Litchfield provides in the fourth review to make the WCA fairer, more accurate and more transparent.

The system we inherited wasn’t working properly, and as Dr Litchfield has suggested we will carefully consider his recommendations before responding to make sure we get this right for claimants – and right for taxpayers.

We spend more than £13bn on sickness and incapacity benefits for almost 2.5 million people of working age and we need to make sure that support goes to those who need it most.

Acknowledging that there is no absolute “gold standard” against which to judge fitness for work, the recommendations made by Dr Litchfield include:

* Further simplifying the assessment process and enhancing the experience of the assessment itself, such as building rapport during interviews

* building on the knowledge of mental health among Decision Makers and Healthcare Professionals continuing to streamline the decision-making process

Dr Paul Litchfield said:

Much has changed since Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was introduced. I have tried to assess whether recommendations have been fully or partially implemented and I hope that there is some useful learning that comes out of this exercise.

Another area of focus for me in this review has been mental health. The impaired capability associated with mental health problems can be difficult to assess and I hope my review will help the government improve things even further.

Good work is good for the health of most people and a benefits system that helps people back into employment when they have been incapacitated must be the aim of a compassionate society. An effective WCA which is fair – and perceived to be so – is important in achieving that.

A formal government response will be published early next year. Ministers have already announced their intention to secure additional providers on a regional basis to conduct Work Capability Assessments from next summer.

The report comes as a separate evidence-based review of the WCA assessment criteria is also published today, fulfilling a recommendation from the second independent review.


More information


The WCA was introduced in 2008 by the previous government. Since 2010, the Work Capability Assessment has been improved through a series of independent reviews and by working with medical experts and charities to make sure it remains fair, accurate and transparent for those using it.

This is Dr Litchfield’s first review, and is the fourth annual review. Previous reviews were undertaken by Professor Harrington. The government has committed to 5 annual reviews.

A decision on benefit entitlement is taken by DWP decision makers after consideration of all the available evidence – including an independent assessment by Atos Healthcare professionals.

The premise of the WCA is that eligibility for benefits should not be based on a person’s condition, but rather on the way that condition limits their ability to function.

The government is absolutely committed to supporting disabled people and we continue to spend around £50bn a year on disabled people and their services.

Overall, only 15% of ESA decisions are overturned on appeal. If a fit for work decision is overturned at appeal, it does not necessarily mean that the original decision was inaccurate – often, claimants produce new evidence in their appeal.

1 thought on “UK Government welcomes findings of Litchfield review of Work Capability Assessment | DWP press release | 12 December 2013”

  1. http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/breaking-news-government-reviewer.html?m=1

    Sue Marsh says:
    “When the coalition came to power in May 2010, they immediately announced that they would go ahead and start to reassess those already claiming Incapacity Benefit.

    I could never understand this decision. Why would you take a failing benefit and roll it out to almost 2 million of the most vulnerable claimants? Not only that, but at first, just 25,000 people per month were being assessed, but the government constantly increased and increased the numbers until today, nearly 130,000 assessments are carried out every month.

    Why? Why would you rush this group through failing assessments, ever faster, when backlogs kept on increasing, tribunals were overturning 40% of decisions that went to appeal and even legally, courts were starting to judge that the test discriminates against certain groups?

    Unless of course you don’t want the tests to be fair. If your aim is to remove a million people from the benefit, perhaps it suits you to make sure that as many of those existing claimants don’t face a fair test? ”

    Chris Grayling said:
    The government repeatedly claimed that Professor Harrington had supported the national rollout of incapacity benefit claimants

    “Professor Harrington went away and made his recommendations to us, which we accepted in full and have implemented. He told me, “I believe the system is in sufficient shape for you to proceed with incapacity benefit reassessment.” We set ourselves a goal to put his recommendations in place, improve the quality of the process and address many of the issues to which hon. Members have referred today by the end of last May, when the assessments in the incapacity benefit reassessment were to start alongside the existing process of assessing ESA new claimants. We did that, and we started.”

    1 Feb 2012 : Column 289WH Hansard Chris Grayling

    Professor Harrington writes to Sue Marsh:
    I NEVER—repeat–NEVER agreed to the IB migration. I would have preferred that it be delayed but by the time I said that, the political die had been cast.

    I then said that i would review progress of that during my reviews.

    The decision was political .

    I could not influence it.

    IS THAT CRYSTAL CLEAR?

    Malcolm”

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