Later today, I will publish Command Paper Cm 9014, the Government’s response to the fifth independent review of the work capability assessment. This is the fifth and final annual independent review, as required by the Welfare Reform Act 2007.
I would like to thank Dr Paul Litchfield for carrying out the review, and I welcome his findings.
Dr Litchfield looked at the changes that have been made to the WCA in response to the first four reviews and although he has recommended further minor improvements he also acknowledged that the WCA needs a period of stability. His recommendations relate to a range of issues including:
An increase in the number of people being placed in the support group, especially younger people;
the need to ensure that communications are as good as they can be, especially for more vulnerable claimants;
better support for claimants with learning disabilities.
The Government have accepted all but two of the 28 recommendations that fall within the scope of the Department for Work and Pensions. The recommendation on a specific allocation of mandatory reconsideration casework cannot be accepted as it would restrict the Department’s operational flexibility. The Department is exploring the impact of a geographical telephone number further and cannot accept this recommendation fully at this point. The 26 recommendations accepted include proposals to improve the mandatory reconsideration process, exploring the sharing of information between assessments and with other Government Departments, and working with the new assessment provider to improve online communications.
I strongly support the principle of the work capability assessment and am committed to continuously improving the assessment process to ensure it is as fair and as accurate as possible. Dr Litchfield's recommendations build on improvements already made to the assessment to achieve this aim.