Ministers accept test review findings

The Government has accepted recommendations to improve tests to assess who is eligible for sickness benefits.

A review by occupational physician Professor Malcolm Harrington found that no fundamental reforms were needed to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which is used to assess entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

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But he made a number of recommendations to improve the process, including the collection of medical evidence as early as possible, and giving staff enough time to make “carefully considered” decisions.

The assessments were introduced in 2008 under the previous Labour government but have been criticised by groups representing disabled people.

Prof Harrington said: “Changing such a large and complex process as the WCA takes time, but change is happening. Through my reviews, my fundamental goal was to achieve a more humane and caring assessment which gives due consideration to those claimants who are least able to help themselves.”