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Disability Living Allowance and Universal Credit: Work Capability Assessment

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN HL8489, tabled on 14 June 2023

To ask His Majesty's Government what were (1) the average waiting times, and (2) the average length of waiting lists, for assessments for (a) Child Disability Living Allowance, and (b) the limited capability for work element of Universal Credit, for each of the most recent period of six months for which data are available.

Answered on

22 June 2023

In the case of Disability Living Allowance for children, the data is not available. Decisions are made on behalf of the Secretary of State by Case Managers from evidence supplied by parents and medical professionals, and do not require an assessment.

In Universal Credit (UC) a claimant is only deemed to have limited capability for work after an assessment has been completed, and a decision made by a DWP decision maker. We have, therefore, interpreted part 2 of your question to mean the total number of UC claimants, who have been referred to the assessment provider, and are awaiting a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) in each of the most recent period of six months for which data are available.

To manage the assessment service effectively, we hold the number of outstanding WCA referrals made to the assessment provider. The number of UC WCA referrals outstanding at the end of each month are shown in the table below:








Total outstanding







Please note:

  • All volumes have been rounded to the nearest 1000;
  • All of the above data is derived from contractual management information produced by the assessment providers; and
  • The above data is derived from unpublished management information which is collected for internal departmental use only and has not been quality assured to Official Statistics Publication Standards.

There will always be outstanding referrals in the assessment process, from those claimants, who have been asked to return a Capability for Work questionnaire and have yet to do so, through to those with an assessment scheduled in the coming weeks. The department closely monitors the levels of outstanding referrals. Not all of these cases will require the claimant to attend an assessment. Where there is already sufficient evidence to determine benefit entitlement, claims will be assessed on a paper basis.

With regards to waiting times, the initial release of Official Statistics on UC WCA covers key metrics on the number of people on the UC health journey, as well as WCA decisions and outcomes. As set out in the published Release Strategy, we are taking a phased approach to development and publication of additional statistics accounting for the complexity of source data that is in discovery. Future releases are planned to include new/repeat claims, medical conditions, Mandatory Reconsiderations and Appeals, and clearance times.