The role of incapacity benefit reassessment in helping claimants into employment - Work and Pensions Committee Contents

8  Conclusion

202.  The Government's aim of helping people with disabilities and long-term health conditions into employment is laudable but the scale of the challenge should not be underestimated. We know that a very large proportion of people who will be in the Work Programme will have previously claimed incapacity benefits or Employment and Support Allowance. For the Government to succeed in its objectives for the reassessment and the Work Programme it is therefore critical that it effectively links up the findings of the Work Capability Assessment with the support available under the Work Programme.

203.  It is important for claimants, Work Programme providers and the overall efficiency of the system that the decision on whether an individual is fit for and capable of work is accurate the first time it is made. Our central conclusion is that the assessment process, as it is designed at the moment, does not accurately assess claimants' employability and needs in the workplace.

204.  The current approach of using the benefit claimed as a proxy for the needs of a client is not sufficient in determining appropriate employment support. It is also the cause of much of the confusion and anxiety amongst claimants who do not understand whether the WCA is for the purpose of determining eligibility for a benefit or capability for work. At the moment, by trying to do a bit of both, it is not achieving either effectively.

205.  The Government and Work Programme providers will need to communicate effectively and regularly about whether the WCA is accurately assessing employability. This information can then be used to inform the levels of support for future Work Programme contracts and will support the introduction of the Universal Credit in due course.

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Prepared 26 July 2011