Request for information about your experiences of ESA and the WCA for Commons Select Committee Inquiry


Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments

Inquiry status: Inquiry announced on 6 February, deadline for receipt of evidence is Friday 21 March.

The deadline for submitting evidence is Friday, March 21, 2014


Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was introduced in October 2008 for claimants making a new claim for financial support on the grounds of illness or incapacity. It replaced Incapacity Benefits, Income Support by virtue of a disability and Severe Disablement Allowance.

ESA is paid to people who have limited capability for work (who are placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG)), and people who have limited capability for work related activity (who are placed in the Support Group).

The majority of claimants applying for ESA are invited to a face-to-face assessment to help determine whether they fall within either of these two groups or whether they are fit for work. This assessment, called the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), is carried out by Atos Healthcare under its medical services contract with DWP. Atos produces a report following the WCA and this is used by the DWP Decision Maker, alongside any other additional evidence, to determine whether the claimant should be placed in the WRAG or the Support Group, or is fit for work.

In April 2011, the Government began reassessing existing Incapacity Benefits (IB) claimants to determine their eligibility for ESA using the WCA. The Committee published a report on Incapacity Benefit Reassessment in July 2011.

The Committee’s inquiry

In light of recent developments in this area, including the publication of a number of reviews of the WCA, expressions of concern from DWP regarding Atos’s performance in delivering the WCA, and the introduction of mandatory reconsideration, the Committee has decided to undertake an inquiry into ESA and WCAs to follow-up its 2011 report.

Submissions of no more than 3,000 words are invited from interested organisations and individuals.

The Committee is particularly interested to hear views on:

  • Delivery of the WCA by Atos, including steps taken to improve the claimant experience
  • The effectiveness of the WCA in indicating whether claimants are fit for work, especially for those claimants who have mental, progressive or fluctuating illnesses, including comparison with possible alternative models
  • The process and criteria for procuring new providers of the WCA
  • The ESA entitlement decision-making process
  • The reconsideration and appeals process
  • The impact of time-limiting contributory ESA
  • Outcomes for people determined fit for work or assigned to the WRAG or the Support Group
  • The interaction between ESA and Universal Credit implementation

Submissions do not need to address all of these points.

The deadline for submitting evidence is Friday 21 March.

How to submit your evidence

To encourage paperless working and maximise efficiency, select committees are now using a new web portal for online submission of written evidence. The web portal is available on this website.

The personal information you supply will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 for the purposes of attributing the evidence you submit and contacting you as necessary in connection with its processing.

Each submission should:

  • be no more than 3,000 words in length
  • be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible
  • have numbered paragraphs

If you need to send a paper copy please send it to: The Clerk, Work and Pensions Committee, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA

Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a web link to the published work should be included.

Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. It is the Committee’s decision whether or not to accept a submission as formal written evidence.

Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.

The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

Further guidance on submitting evidence to Select Committees is available on the parliamentary website (PDF PDF 2.41 MB)Opens in a new window.

                Many thanks to Robert Livingstone for his pictures

Related links:

What you need to know about Atos assessments. 
Clause 99, Catch 22 – The ESA Mandatory Second Revision and Appeals
ESA RevolvingThe ESA ‘Revolving Door’ Process, and its Correlation with a Significant Increase in Deaths amongst the Disabled.

18 thoughts on “Request for information about your experiences of ESA and the WCA for Commons Select Committee Inquiry

  1. Sue, Can you submit the stuff you have from me please? Can’t do it from this tablet.  Cheers, Joyce. Xxx

    Sent from Samsung tabletkittysjones wrote:


  2. My partner attended one of these wca assessments in atos glasgow on october 13. At the assessment aftrer trying to complete the tasks his back went into spasm and he ended up doubling up in complete agony with the tears rolling down his face, the doctor stopped the assessment when he saw the agony my partner was in and phoned a taxi for him, but here comes the big but he never even mentioned this in his report to the dwp and only awarded him 6 points. My partner had to ask for a reconsideration where the decision was overturned and he was put into the wrag group with 18 points i still feel he should have went into the support group but he is to tired to go through the process.


    1. Sorry to hear about this, yes, Atos and the DWP lie, and miss out crucial details and evidence, unfortunately it isn’t an uncommon experience.

      It is possible to request that the DWP reconsider the decision to place your partner in the WRAG. and he wouldn’t lose any benefit, the decision can be taken to appeal, too.

      This is worth a read as it explains the ESA related regulations that may be applicable and useful for your husband –


  3. The whole thing is a joke. If you can turn up at an interview, you are found capable to do some form of work, No account is taken of what affect this work may have on your wellbeing.
    Atos are paid a dividend, for those they put on the WRAG and none for putting people on the Support group, so why should they bother to assess anyone properly.
    On my first assessment, which was done by a South Africa Doctor, I was told to see my own doctor, as I had no pulse in one of my legs, this turned out to be Peripheral arterial decease, for which I have had stents fitted to both leg arteries and have scan done every 6 months. Originally I was signed off of work for Emphysema! so this turned out to be an added problem I did not know I had.
    I was told by this so called Dr, that I was capable of work and put onto the WRAG group. After a few years and more ATOS interviews, none of which said I was incapable of some form of work, a decision maker at DWP finally put me onto the support group.
    Having been in employment since I was 15, I find that the system I paid so much money into is failing me when I need it most. Had I paid into a private insurance, would I need to die before I was believed, as so many are doing at the moment.


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