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Work Capability Assessment consultation launched

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The Work, Health and Disability green paper highlights how earlier treatment can help people stay in work

The government has launched a consultation on reforming the Work Capability Assessment, with the aim of helping those on disability benefits into work.

The Work, Health and Disability green paper highlights how earlier treatment for mental and physical conditions can help people to stay in work. It may involve more phased returns to work for people who have been signed off sick.

Work and pensions secretary Damian Green told BBC Radio 4's Today programme about the proposed changes. “The great mindset change I want to achieve is the acceptance that a good job is good for your health,” he said. “The idea that sitting at home living on benefits is in any way good for people, particularly people with a mental health condition, is completely wrong.

“We want [businesses] to realise that there's a huge pool of talented people who are disabled and want to work and can contribute fully in the workplace. We've got historically high employment levels. We want to spread that so everyone can enjoy the revolution that we have seen in job creation in the last few years."

Mark Atkinson, chief executive at disability charity Scope, welcomed the consultation.

“The government is right to consult on the Work Capability Assessment as the current system clearly isn’t working for disabled people,” he said. “All disabled people should be able to access expert tailored employment support, and the government should work with employers to create flexible modern workplaces.

“If the government is serious about meeting its commitment to halving the disability employment gap it must listen to the concerns of disabled people and deliver a system that truly works for people who want to work.”

He explained that the test itself can often stand in the way of finding work. “Disabled people tell us repeatedly that the test causes them unnecessary stress and anxiety and makes finding work tougher than it needs to be,” he said. “At the same time, nearly 40% of young disabled people tell us that they don’t have the information they need to find work.”