DWP faces fury over Work Capability Assessments as thousands tipped to miss out on support | Personal Finance | Finance

Hundreds of thousands of people with serious mobility or mental health conditions may be denied support as of next year under Government proposals, new figures show.

The figures, released by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) after a request from anti-poverty charity Z2K, show that by 2029, an estimated 230,000 people with serious mobility problems preventing them from working will not get any extra . Additionally, they could face sanctions if they do not engage with the Jobcentre.

A further 141,000 future new claimants are estimated to miss out despite having serious mental health conditions that could put them or people around them at “substantial risk of harm” if they are forced to meet conditions set by Jobcentre staff.

Anela Anwar, chief executive of Z2K, said: “The Department for Work and Pensions () plans to deny support to hundreds of thousands of people who fall ill or become disabled after next year.

“This would be devastating for people looking for support because their health or disability has stopped them from being able to work. And these figures show that more than 140,000 people would be at substantial risk of harm.

“Seriously ill and disabled people need security and support, not sanctions, cuts, and high-stakes assessments. Government should focus on the reasons increasing numbers of people are ill and can’t return to work – not removing vital protections that any of us could need in the future.”

This comes following upcoming changes to the Work Capability Assessment, announced in last November’s Autumn Statement, and are expected to come into force next year.

Under the new proposals, the Mobilising activity used to assess Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity (LCWRA) will be removed from 2025. This is because “new flexibilities” in the labour market mean that many people with mobilising limitations can undertake some form of tailored and personalised work-related activity with the right support.

The Government has, however, stressed that it will retain the LCWRA Risk regulations for physical health to ensure those with the most significant mobilising limitations are still protected, where they do not meet other activities.

This means that when work preparation would lead to a deterioration in a claimant’s physical health, they would still meet the eligibility for LCWRA.

According to the DWP, this will only apply to new claims – existing claimants without work-related requirements will not be re-assessed under these new rules save for a few exceptional circumstances.

The DWP added: “No one claiming Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance will face conditionality or related benefit sanctions as a result of these changes to the WCA, and all support towards work will continue to be voluntary for this group.”

However, the proposed changes will make claiming support even more difficult than it is for some already. Justyna, whose name has been changed, has significant physical and mental health problems, including arthritis, lumbar herniation, and depression.

According to Z2K, she was awarded no points on her Work Capability Assessment despite providing medical evidence including MRI scan results.

Z2K said it supported Justyna to lodge an appeal. The charity said the judge felt there was no need for questioning at the hearing, and awarded Justyna 15 points for the Mobilising activity and therefore LCWRA.

However, Z2K noted that under the Government’s new proposals, someone like Justyna would not be granted LCWRA if they made a new application.

A DWP spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “We support millions of people every year and our priority is to provide a supportive service and help claimants get the benefits they are entitled to. We must balance welfare support with fairness to the taxpayer, and all requirements are agreed with the claimant to ensure that they are reasonable.

“Our upcoming Work Capability Assessment reforms will shift the focus to what people can do rather than what they can’t whilst maintaining protections for those with the most significant health conditions.”

Z2K has launched a campaign, ‘Security not Sanctions’, to call on politicians to reject these changes and ensure the disability benefits system works “for the people who need it”.

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