Department for Work and Pensions
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New statistics show thousands found fit for work as Government vows to push ahead with plans to reassess incapacity benefit claimants

People being assessed for their ability to work are overwhelmingly being found fit and able to look for a job, according to new figures out yesterday.

The latest statistics for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) applications show that three-quarters of applicants are being found fit for work or are stopping their claim before their assessment period has been completed.

Minister for Employment, Chris Grayling said:

"The vast majority of people who are applying for these benefits are being found fit for work or have stopped their claim. These are people who under the old system would have been abandoned on incapacity benefits. It's a clear indication of why reform is so urgently needed.

"This is exactly why we are going to reassess everyone claiming incapacity benefits for their ability to work, from this October. They will now be given the support they need to get back to work and will be expected to look for work if they are able to do so."

For new ESA claims from October 2008 to November 2009, the breakdown is:

  • Support Group – 6%
  • Work Related Activity Group – 14%
  • Fit for Work - 39%
  • Claim closed before assessment complete – 37%
  • Assessment still in progress - 4%

People making a claim for Employment and Support Allowance undergo a Work Capability Assessment (WCA). To ensure that the assessment is fair and accurate we announced last month that an independent review would be undertaken by Professor Malcolm Harrington. 

This review will be supported by a small Scrutiny Group that will offer advice and challenge to Professor Harrington during the course of the review. The review will be launching a call for evidence tomorrow aimed at gathering information on the WCA from a wide range of organisations and individuals.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The call for evidence will be found on the DWP website, and details on the scrutiny group will be available here from Wednesday 28 July.
  2. The full Employment and Support Allowance: Work Capability Assessments statistics are available here:


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