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23 March 2010
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CAB evidence on the ESA work capability assessment

Executive summary

Employment and support allowance (ESA) wasintroduced in October 2008 to replace the existing incapacity benefit (IB) for new claimants. It aims to give more help to those who might, with support, be able to work.

Citizens Advice has been monitoring the impact of the new benefit, and this is our second report since its introduction. Limited capability, published in November 2009, covered the administration of the benefit, and this report looks at the assessment process. Bureaux advisers have expressed grave concern at the number of people unexpectedly being found fit for work. This report therefore examines three key aspects of the ESA assessment process: who is being selected for the work capability assessment (WCA); its design and content; and how it is carried out in practice.

The main findings concern problems with each of these aspects of ESA assessment:

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