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Work capability assessments need to be ‘fair, consistent and right first time’

30 October 2016

Citizens Advice says that the health and work Green Paper offers the government the opportunity to ensure the work capability assessment (WCA) is fair, consistent and right first time.

Responding to news that the  Green Paper, to be published tomorrow, will look to create a more ‘targeted and personalised’ WCA, the national charity said the current system causes many people huge distress.

Citizens Advice also said the government needs to streamline and properly resource support for people who are disabled or have long term health condition but want to work.

Last year local Citizens Advice helped over 450,000 people who are disabled or have a long term health conditions, of whom 80% are of working age and 18% are in work. A further 16% are unemployed but seeking paid work, of which:

  • A third need help with debt problems

  • Almost 1 in 5 have a housing issue

Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Gillian Guy said:

“Many people  who are disabled or have long-term health problems want to work, and need support to do so.

"But for anyone not well enough to take on a job, the work capability assessment (WCA) must be fair, consistent and right first time.  

“Thousands of people with a disability or long term health condition turn to Citizens Advice each year, with many juggling debt or housing problems as well as problems related to work.

"But too many have also been let down by failings with the WCA - last year we helped people with over 25,000 problems with these assessments.  Issues include long delays, assessments carried out with limited medical evidence, and a lack of financial support when appealing decisions.

“It’s welcome news that the Green Paper finds the WCA to be in need of an overhaul. The Government now has a great opportunity to use this health and work consultation to tackle the challenges disabled people face finding and keeping a job."

Notes to editors

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  5. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.