New Government Sickness Benefit Change Proposals

Published / Last Updated on 06/09/2023

Mel Stride, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has outlined proposals today in the House of Commons to overhaul work capability assessments when people are claiming sickness and disability benefits.  The consultation will last for 8 weeks after the review was initially announced in the Spring Budget by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in March 2023 with him suggesting that Work Capability Assessments.

Current Assessment

  • When you apply for Universal Credit and disclose a health condition or disability that affects your capability to work you may be assessed.
  • Work Capability Assessments are based upon different categories of illness or disability.
  • You’ll need to provide a sick note and complete a ‘Capability for Work’ (UC50) health questionnaire.
  • The Work Capability Assessment then decides how much your illness or disability limits your capability to work and benefits are set accordingly.

Work Capability Assessment Being Changed

  • There are over 6.3 million people in the UK claiming disability benefits (February 2023) i.e., they have some form of permanent disability.
  • There are an additional 2.3 million people claiming incapacity benefits (up 30% from before the pandemic) that have a short- or long-term illness currently preventing them from working with no requirement or expectation for them to seek work whilst they are incapacitated.
  • The are over 2 million less workers in the Uk than there were before the pandemic.  There is a massive workforce shortage.

This is not sustainable and now work practices have changed dramatically during and after the pandemic with more roles working from home, there are clearly opportunities for some claiming benefits to now be able to work in some capacity.

The proposed changes will mean that some may lose benefits if their illness or disability is reclassified as to one that may be able to work with the right assistance.


It is over 10 years since the last health and work capability assessment rules were reviewed for the benefits system with the government proposing now to alter the range of allowed disability and incapacity conditions that qualify and for those that now may be deemed as fit and able to work (with conditions) will get assessed and help with:

  • Provided with lists of vacancies for jobs available today that they could do.
  • Job application coaching as many roles have now changed with remote/home working.
  • Identify an individual needs to help them get back to work e.g., desks/orthopaedic chairs or other items at home, to fulfil a role or similar roles.
  • Assistance to employers to be able to take on more workers with some disability or sickness issues.
  • The government has proposed to invest £2bn into the project to get that are able to work back to work.

No doubt there will be many dissenters that worry about the impact, but we are sure many of us will personally know people that deserve and need benefits e.g., real physical disabilities or some with mental health concerns when being in crowds or at a workplace but would be perfectly happy to work from home but do not receive help to achieve this.

Equally, many of us may also know people that are clearly ‘swinging the lead’ and not seeking work when they could get work with some help.  It is a little grating when you see some dancing around in the pub all day or indeed counting their gambling winnings (paid for by hardworking taxpayers’ money).

There is good and bad as we all know, and we hope the changes go some way to making the system fairer and better for all as well as helping those who want to work to get back into work.

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