Fears over WCA backlog see Ministers halt assessments

The Daily Mirror has reported on a leaked document from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) instructing staff to ensure that people being retested for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) via the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) will not automatically be called for a reassessment in order to reduce the backlog and subsequent pressure on the system. Only new claimants, those who say their circumstances have changed or people being moved over from Incapacity Benefit will have to undergo a WCA.

The news follows a tense session of questioning to the Department for Work and Pensions in the House of Commons yesterday, at which Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning continually criticised the last Labour Government for signing a contract with Atos that ‘trapped’ the current Government into the current “failed” system. With a clear fault line opening up between the Department and Atos, he also criticised the company for “not respecting commercial confidence” in negotiations over moves to bring in new providers, following reports last week that Atos was openly trying to get out of the contract to provide the WCA before its contract finishes in August 2015.