The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is running a consultation on changes to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). Its plans have already provoked uproar among chronically ill and disabled people. So, the more people that tell the DWP what they think of its planned WCA changes the better – but there’s only a matter of days left to submit your views to the consultation.
DWP: controversial changes to the WCA
As the Canary previously reported, the DWP is planning to change the WCA. Specifically, it’s planning on taking out or changing the following features:
- Factoring in people’s mobility.
- Bladder or bowel incontinence.
- The inability to cope in social situations.
- People’s ability to leave their homes.
- Work being a risk to claimants or others – a clause which means that an individual is “treated as having limited capability for work and work related activity “
That is, the DWP thinks anyone who would currently be exempt due to those descriptors should instead have to work from home. The department has been quite clear on its reasoning, too. It says it wants to remove these aspects:
so that assessments reflect greater flexibility and availability of reasonable adjustments in work, particularly home working.
Reading between the lines, the DWP is trying to reduce the benefits bill by forcing more chronically ill and disabled people into work. As the charity Disability Rights told Disability News Service (DNS):
The government’s proposed changes to the work capability assessment are less to do with helping disabled people into work than a cynical attempt to impose conditionality and to reduce benefit payments.
In reality, these changes could be terrible for people affected. They could mean that more people would lose the health-related elements of benefits like Universal Credit. In turn, this could mean the DWP could subject them to sanctions.
The DWP is currently running a consultation on the changes. However, time is running out for people to take part in it.
The consultation is closing
The DWP tweeted on Monday 23 October that:
The Work Capability Assessment consultation is drawing to a close on 30 October, so do not miss the chance to have your say on shaping the future of the benefit system.
— Department for Work and Pensions (@DWPgovuk) October 23, 2023
The full details of the consultation can be found here.
People have criticised the DWP for its planned changes. For example, welfare rights adviser Ayaz Manji said on X that:
I don’t think it’s possible to design a more dangerous reform to the benefits system.
The clients I work with who meet this criteria are people who are facing real harm. Often with a history of suicidal thoughts and attempts, and complex mental health problems. This would target a benefit cut towards people who the DWP knows are in extremely precarious situations…
The consequences of this are entirely predictable. Really hope that everyone invested in us having a safe and fit-for-purpose social security system can mobilise around this.
We must stop these ‘horrendously dangerous’ plans
Ellen Clifford, from campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), told DNS that the DWP is:
effectively getting rid of out-of-work benefits for disabled people and denying the realities and prevalence of disability to do it, at the same time ramping up sanctions which are proven to discriminate against disabled job-seekers.
It is horrendously dangerous.
So, as many people as possible should complete the DWP’s consultation before the 30 October deadline. These regressive, punitive, and dangerous changes must be stopped in their tracks.
Moreover, people need to apply pressure to Labour to make sure it doesn’t bring these sweeping and horrific reforms to the WCA if it’s elected. Currently, its stance on social security is weak, at best – so there’s no guarantee the party would be any better than the Tories are.
You can write to your MP here to tell them to urge them not to implement the DWP’s changes.
Featured image via the DWP – YouTube
- Complete the DWP’s WCA consultation here.
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