Mencap 180x120With more than 50% of appealed Work Capability Assessment (WCA) for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) decisions being overturned, learning disability charity Mencap has called for the government to reform the fitness for work test.

The Department for Work and Pensions’ latest statistics show that 53% of initial WCA decisions appealed against were overturned after being challenged. In response, Mencap wants a fundamental redesign of the WCA.

The WCA has been widely criticised since it was introduced in 2008, and a tribunal earlier this year said it puts people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and autism at a “substantial disadvantage.”

Rossanna Trudgian, head of campaigns at Mencap, said: “There is widespread acknowledgement that the WCA is a deeply flawed test and [these] figures undoubtedly confirm that the WCA is still failing the people it is designed to support.

“The fact that 53% of Fit for Work decisions are being overturned following an appeal is deeply concerning and further evidence of how the WCA is in need of a “fundamental redesign”, as acknowledged by a previous Select Committee Report.

“We hear from many people with a learning disability who during the WCA are asked questions they don’t understand and aren’t offered the support they need to answer questions correctly. Wrong decisions are disturbingly commonplace and the percentage is showing no sign of improving – causing fear and anxiety amongst people with a learning disability. 

“These statistics come at a time when people with a learning disability face further reductions in the support the Government offers them.  We now urge the Government to consider how it can improve the WCA, and to think seriously about the impact of its welfare reforms, and the freezes of many benefits on the 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK.”