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Universal Credit: Work Capability Assessment

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 128979, tabled on 14 December 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of publishing condition specific processing times for work capability assessments referrals from universal credit.

Answered on

16 December 2020

Statistics on Work Capability Assessments for Universal Credit are currently under development for future publication and have not previously been published as official statistics. We will issue them in due course as an official statistics release in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. Whilst the initial statistics will not have median clearance times, these will be developed for publication in due course. There are no plans to provide these statistics by medical condition.

Statistics on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Work Capability Assessment (WCA) outcomes are published quarterly. The latest figures covering the median end-to-end clearance time, which includes ‘claim registration to WCA referral’ by month of clearance up to March 2020, can be found at:

Guidance for users is available at:

UC claimants are generally referred for a work capability assessment at day 29 of their health-related claim. If the claimant has certain conditions (e.g. pregnant and risk to self or child) or are undergoing certain treatments (e.g. chemotherapy) they will be referred for a WCA earlier.

Once referred claimants are issued a capability for work questionnaire (UC50). Claimants have 4 weeks to complete and return this along with any supporting evidence to the Health Assessment Advisory Service (HAAS).

Once received at HAAS, the information is reviewed by a Healthcare Professional (HCP). The HCP will determine if there is enough information to enable the case to be cleared on scrutiny. This may include contacting other professionals who support the claimant, such as their GP or Consultant, for supporting evidence. If the HCP is unable to clear by paper scrutiny a face-to-face assessment is scheduled.

Due to Coronavirus restrictions claimants may experience a longer wait for their assessment, and may be asked to attend a telephone assessment while face-to-face assessments remain suspended. If, following an assessment, we decide that the claimant is entitled to extra benefit, we will pay any arrears owed.