Dr Paul Litchfield, the independent reviewer of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), is about to call for evidence for the fifth annual review of the WCA. The Department for Work and Pensions say he will focus on three main areas:
The impact of previous Independent Reviews;
The experience of the WCA process;
The WRAG and Support Group, with a focus on correctly placing people in either group; and
Mental Health and Learning difficulties, with a focus on those with severe and enduring Mental Health conditions and/or severe Learning Difficulties.
The WCA is the key assessment of people's abilities when they apply for Employment and Support Allowance.
Stephanie Harvey, from the independent review team at the DWP, said:
“This is the fifth and final statutory independent review of the WCA, and the second review conducted by Dr Litchfield. As with last year, the Call for Evidence is one of several methods used to gather information during the review, and is aimed at organisations and individuals who have information on how the WCA is operating and further improvements that may be needed.
“Dr Litchfield is particularly interested in data that supports points raised and any new evidence that will help to improve the assessment. We wanted to give you advance notice of the areas of particular interest for this call for evidence to help with your planning for collecting evidence over the coming weeks.”
Dr Charles Shepherd, medical adviser to the ME Association, commented:
Along with members of the DWP Fluctuating Conditions Group, I met Dr Paul Litchfield last week at DWP HQ to discuss the government response to the evidence-based review (EBR) of our proposals for a revised version of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA).
We are currently in the process of setting up a further meeting with the DWP to see how we can work with them on actions resulting from the EBR and our proposals relating to the WCA.
We will be feeding information into this Call for Evidence. This will also include the results of our current website survey on ESA application outcomes.