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Changes to DWP guidance (including regulation 35) on safety and risk lead to sharp fall in claimants placed in employment and support allowance (ESA) support group, and increase in number of people found ‘fit for work’.

What: DWP data shows the proportion of ESA claimants being placed in the support group has plunged by 42 per cent (24 percentage points) in just three months. In the same period, the proportion of applicants found fit for work rose from 35 to 49 per cent. DPAC’s Anita Bellows suggests the figures are the result of DWP changing the criteria to make it harder for disabled people to be placed in the support group under the “substantial risk” regulation 35 [see November 2014 and December 2015]. She says this has made it “almost impossible for a claimant to be placed into the support group” under regulation 35. In a blog analysing the data, academic and researcher Ben Baumberg Geiger says changes to DWP guidance between 2015 and 2016, including changes to Regulation 35, show that assessors are now “discouraged from saying that there is a substantial risk to the claimant’s health if they are found capable of work (or work-related activity)”.

Why significant: Disabled activists have been campaigning since 2014 for wider awareness of regulation 35, which they believe could save lives if used more often.


The return of the stricter WCA?, Geiger, 2016
'ESA figures show ‘very disturbing’ drop in number placed in support group', Pring, 2016