The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) was introduced in October 2008 to assess entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Section 10 of the Welfare Reform Act 2007 commits the Secretary of State to lay an independent report before Parliament each year for the first five years of operation.
On 29 June 2010 the Secretary of State appointed Professor Malcolm Harrington to undertake the first of these independent reviews. We published his review on 23 November 2010, alongside the Government’s response to it.
Interim report on Year 1 recommendations
At the start of May 2011 the Minister for Employment asked Professor Harrington to provide an interim report on the implementation of his Year 1 recommendations. This concludes that real progress has been made in implementing all of the recommendations.
- Professor Harrington’s interim report, May 2011 (65KB)
- Minister for Employment’s commissioning letter, May 2011 (76KB)
The first review
Professor Harrington reviewed the fairness and effectiveness of the WCA. He set out a substantial series of recommendations to the Government based on the evidence he collected as part of the review. The main recommendations focus on:
- empowering and investing in Jobcentre Plus Decision Makers
- Jobcentre Plus taking control of the process and supporting individuals through it
- Atos employing “champions” at each Medical Examination Centre
- establishing a programme of work for the second review.
We published the review on 23 November 2010.
An Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment
- Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment (401KB)
- Rich Text Format – Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment (706KB) (RTF)
- Adolygiad annibynnol o’r Asesiad Gallu i Weithio (Welsh summary) (136KB)
The Government’s response to the first review
The Government responded to Professor Harrington’s review on 23 November 2010. They welcomed the findings and recommendations of the review – fully endorsing and accepting his suggestions.
The Government response includes details of how and when we will implement the recommendations.
- Government’s response the Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment (250KB)
- Equality impact assessment for the response to the Work Capability Assessment Independent Review (61KB)
Professor Harrington’s review was the first of five annual reviews. Improving the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) will be an ongoing process to ensure that the system works as well as possible for people going through it.
Professor Harrington has been re-appointed to lead the second review, and has started work on the programme of work set out in his first review. This is the high-level timeline for this year, including major milestones:
Consultation during the first review (now closed)
- The Work Capability Assessment – A Call for Evidence (103KB)
- Easy read version – The Work Capability Assessment – A Call for Evidence (989KB)