The report deemed that the flaws in the Employment and Support Allowance system are so grave that a fundamental redesign is needed.

James Bolton, policy officer at Mencap:

Mencap agrees with the Work and Pensions Committee that the Work Capability Assessment has "grave" flaws and that a "fundamental redesign" is needed. The assessment is a cause of great fear and anxiety for people with a learning disability, whose only wish is to be able to live their lives like everyone else, but who are often prevented from doing so by an unfair and flawed process.

Wrong decisions are disturbingly commonplace, with almost four in ten appeals found in favour of the person claiming ESA. This process not only causes avoidable stress and worry for tens of thousands of people, many of whom are in vulnerable situations, but it also wastes huge amounts of the taxpayers' money - an estimated £66 million was spent on appeals last year alone.

From requiring claimants to collect their own supporting evidence, which often costs money, to the use of inadequate classifications during assessments, the work capability is failing some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

The assessment must be urgently replaced with a fit for work test that is fit for purpose. We support the committee's call for a "fundamental redesign" of the entire process, and the creation of an assessment that better understands the barriers that disabled people face. We want to see assessments that are fair, and ensure that people with a learning disability get the support that they need.

James Bolton goes on to describe the awful experiences of one woman with a learning disability:

One person who Mencap has supported found herself placed in the wrong Employment and Support Allowance group after going through a work capability assessment.

Upon appeal, she was placed in the correct group, but she was then forced to undergo another work capability assessment, despite her circumstances remaining the same, and was once again placed into the wrong group. She is currently appealing again.

This is an unacceptable and futile situation that is causing untold emotional and financial stress for the person involved, but is also wasting thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money.


For more information, please contact the press office at Mencap on 020 7696 6950 or

Notes to editor

About Mencap

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities.

Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email