ERSA, the sector body for the employment support sector, has today welcomed the Work and Pensions Select Committee recommendations on Employment Support Allowance and the Work Capability Assessment. 

ERSA members, who include both prime contractors and subcontractors of the Work Programme and disability employment programme, Work Choice, are on the frontline of providing employment support for people with health conditions and disabilities.  Their belief is that the WCA should be retained, but fundamentally reformed so that it far better supports the journey into work for those who are able rather than merely acting as an assessment tool for benefit entitlement.

In particular, ERSA supports the report’s recommendations that the WCA should assess employability support needs as well as health needs and that the WCA should become far more effective in identifying those jobseekers who should be in the Support Group.  For those who could, in time, work, ERSA supports recommendations to strengthen the relationships between WCA assessors, Jobcentre Plus, providers of outsourced services and employers, including through sharing the findings of the assessment.

In welcoming the report, ERSA chief executive, Kirsty McHugh, said:

‘Public concern about the Work Capability Assessment is set to continue unless we get fundamental reforms.  The WCA has become an assessment almost entirely used to determine benefit levels and it must be shifted it in a more positive direction. Being found capable of work should be an empowering experience rather than one that causes concern for the potential jobseeker.

The challenge now is to get the WCA right first time so people can access the most appropriate support for them.’