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Changes to the Work Capability Assessment ‘a recipe for disaster’, says brain injury charity Main Image

Changes to the Work Capability Assessment ‘a recipe for disaster’, says brain injury charity

Mon 13 Nov 2023

Reported changes to the way in which people are assessed as being unfit to work due to illness or disability have been met with alarm by Headway, the UK-wide charity that supports people affected by brain injury.

The proposed changes to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) could see many more people assessed as fit to work and threatened with cuts to their benefits if they did not actively seek work, according to Headway.

Those receiving WCA monies are placed into one of two categories: either having “limited capability for work-related activity” if in receipt of Universal Credit or the support group if they are also receiving Employment and Support Allowance.

Proposals include these categories being scrapped, with work coaches in Job Centres determining how much effort people need to make to find a job.

Commenting on the proposals, Sarah Russell, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Headway, said: “Leaving it to the discretion of work coaches on how much effort an individual should make with consequential loss of benefits is a recipe for disaster.

“It is unlikely that these job coaches would have specialist knowledge of the subtle and often hidden effects of acquired brain injury such as memory loss, fatigue and cognitive issues.

“I fear there will be very little understanding of what a day in the life of a brain injury survivor can be like, brain injury is incredibly complex, and the effects can fluctuate from one day to the next.

“Government can change the framework people are assessed by, but this will not change a person’s abilities. Just because they want people to find employment doesn’t mean they can.”

There have been calls to reinvest any savings from these changes into supporting people to find work. If these proposals were to go ahead, Headway believes savings should be used to support those who are able to get back into employment to do just that.

Sarah Russell added, “Those brain injury survivors who are able to re-enter the job market would be very glad of additional governmental support. However, we must ensure those who are not capable of re-entering the job market are not faced with draconian sanctions.

“Ultimately, these proposals run the risk of unfairly discriminating against brain injury survivors and others whose ability to seek work is affected by their illness or disability.” See also: Headway responds to the announcement of proposed changes to the Work Capability Assessment

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Headway - the brain injury association is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (Charity no. 1025852) and the Office of the Scottish Regulator (Charity no. SC 039992). Headway is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 2346893.

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