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The number of work capability repeat assessments (WCAs) has risen to its highest ever level and now outnumbers assessments for fresh claims, the latest DWP statistics show. This is in spite of a promise made by the government last year “stop reassessing people with the most severe health conditions and disabilities”.

Latest figures
Back in 2014, Benefits and Work broke the news that all repeat WCA medical referrals to Atos were to be stopped until further notice, due to a massive backlog of cases.

We can now reveal that the number of repeat assessments has been rising rapidly since they were reintroduced in December 2015.

In the quarter to March 2017, the most recent for which figures exist, there were 154,200 repeat WCAs.  This is more than double the number carried out in the same period last year, which stood at 72,000.

 

It means that, in the most recent quarter, 54% of all WCAs were repeat assessments as opposed to 42% which were initial claims.

Astonishingly, 4% of cases were transfers from incapacity benefit to ESA – a process that should have ended years ago.

The DWP say that:

“ESA repeat assessment volumes have increased in recent quarters as processing was re-introduced in December 2015, after almost two years of focussing on initial assessments.”

The proportion of ESA reassessment claimants going into the support group remains high, at 60%. But this is still considerably lower than in 2015, when 70%-80% of repeat assessments resulted in support group entry.

20% of repeat assessment claimants were placed in the work-related activity group and 21% were found to be fit for work.

Government promise
In October 2016 work and pensions secretary Damian Green told MPs:

“ . . . we will stop reassessing people with the most severe health conditions and disabilities. This change will apply to people who have already been placed in the ESA Support Group or UC Limited Capability for Work and Work Related Activity categories following a WCA and who have the most severe health conditions and disabilities (defined as claimants with severe, lifelong, often progressive and incurable conditions, with minimally fluctuating care needs, who are unlikely to ever be able to move closer to the labour market and into work).”

Green went on to say that the IT changes needed for the new system would be completed by the end of 2017, but:

“In the meantime, we will be working to ensure these people are not reassessed unnecessarily.”

The latest figures suggest that the exact opposite is happening.

You can download the full statistics from this link

Comments  

+1 #3 Frosty77 2017-09-21 23:58
Had 2 reassessments while in support group. Give us a break
+3 #2 Idonia 2017-09-20 03:50
Forgot to say that all of these repeat ESA assessments that I'm having are happening even though I've been in the Support Group since 2013. I can hardly cope with what my health does to me on a normal day, let alone attempting to manage when I'm also trying to live with the constant fear of having my only source of income taken away too.
+3 #1 Idonia 2017-09-20 03:45
I've had two repeat ESA assessments since last summer. I have ten diagnosed health conditions, three of these since birth. Yet they insist on reassessing me every nine months. It's both horrifically cruel and utterly pointless.

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