The return of the stricter WCA?

The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) has for several years now been widely felt to be a harsh and unfair assessment of incapacity, as I’ve explored elsewhere. But what escaped some people’s notice was that it became a much more lenient assessment over time. Whereas two-thirds (67%) of those having an initial assessment in mid-2009 were getting found fit-for-work, this dropped to merely one-quarter (25%) in Nov 2014. Conversely, only 10% in mid-2009 were being allocated to the Support Group, compared to over 60% in Nov 2014. (The remaining people were allocated to the Work-Related Activity Group or ‘WRAG’, which is means-tested and in which people can be sanctioned to some degree).

However, the latest figures suggest the WCA is starting to become stricter again, as Disability News Service reported last week. Continue reading

New estimates for disability benefit spending from the OBR

The Office of Budget Responsibility – the official body responsible for ‘independent and authoritative analysis of the UK’s public finances’ – today published a new ‘welfare trends report’. This may not sound like the kind of news to get the pulse racing (even for people like me), but beneath the typically dry language there’s a couple of interesting updates about disability and incapacity benefits, as well as some slightly dubious international comparisons… Continue reading

Latest incapacity rate figures

The latest labour market figures are out today – not that you can miss them in the news today. However, it’s worth picking out the figures on incapacity as they tend to get missed in the main headlines. While the full release is available here, the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion newsletter does an excellent job of summarising these near-instantly, and the incapacity picture looks like this:

CESI incaapacity figure March 2015

So two things of note in the past few months: (i) incapacity claimants (mainly ESA) have been rising since Jul 2013, but are still lower than Autumn 2011; and (ii)  there’s a slight difference in the trends of incapacity benefit claims vs. people describing themselves as inactive due to long-term sickness.