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Select Committee Enquiry into ESA and WCA

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was introduced in October 2008 for claimants making a new claim for financial support on the grounds of illness or incapacity. It replaced Incapacity Benefits, Income Support by virtue of a disability and Severe Disablement Allowance.

The majority of people applying for ESA undergo a Work Capability Assessment (WCA), to judge whether they are unable to work because of illness or disability, or whether they should be able to work, given any necessary support.

There has been a great deal of criticism expressed by those undergoing the assessments, about the way that ATOS, the company contracted to carry them out, does its job. Equally, the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) has also had concerns about the company’s performance. In light of this, the publication of a number of reviews of the WCA, and the introduction of mandatory reconsideration for people receiving Incapacity Benefit, the Parliamentary Select Committee has decided to undertake an inquiry into ESA and WCAs, to follow-up its 2011 report.

Submissions of no more than 3,000 words are invited from interested organisations and individuals.

The Committee is particularly interested to hear views on:

  • Delivery of the WCA by Atos, including steps taken to improve the claimant experience
  • The effectiveness of the WCA in indicating whether claimants are fit for work, especially for those claimants who have mental, progressive or fluctuating illnesses, including comparison with possible alternative models
  • The process and criteria for procuring new providers of the WCA
  • The ESA entitlement decision-making process
  • The reconsideration and appeals process
  • The impact of time-limiting contributory ESA
  • Outcomes for people determined fit for work or assigned to the WRAG or the Support Group
  • The interaction between ESA and Universal Credit implementation

Submissions do not need to address all of these points. The deadline for submitting evidence is Friday 21 March.

You can use the committee’s web portal to submit your evidence online. It should be in a text document, with numbered paragraphs, as little use of colour and images as possible.

You can find out more about ESA and work capability assessments here

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