The Government are committed to producing an independent report on the operation of the work capability assessment every year for the first five years, as established in the Welfare Reform Act 2007. This will begin in the autumn and will publish its first findings in 2010.
When the work capability assessment was brought in to replace the personal capability assessment in October 2008, the mental health component was redesigned to ensure that it is up to date and evidence-based and deals effectively with the problems and needs of those with mental health problems. The new assessment ensures that people with mental health conditions are better identified and that their problems and needs and the support they require are correctly assessed.
Specifically, the work capability assessment includes a more extensive assessment of mental function, assessing the effects of a range of conditions such as learning disabilities or mental illness. To do this, a claimant is judged against a series of activities which correspond to mental functions which may be necessary to any workplace, such as execution of tasks or coping with change. The extent to which a claimant can complete any of these activities is measured against a series of graded descriptors. The same scoring system is applied to mental function and physical function, to ensure that the assessment is balanced across the two sections.