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DWP commission a report on ‘The Scientific and Conceptual Basis of Incapacity Benefits’, which lays the framework for the 2006 Welfare Reform Bill.

What: DWP publishes The Scientific and Conceptual Basis of Incapacity Benefits, by Gordon Waddell and Mansel Aylward (both from the UnumProvident Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research). The report recommended the adoption of the Waddell-Aylward biopsychosocial (BPS) model of assessment for disability benefit assessments, and the reduction of one million claimants of Incapacity Benefit. The Waddell and Aylward 2005 report was the framework for the 2006 Welfare Reform Bill. Subsequently, academic research exposed the Waddell and Aylward (2010) research recommending the BPS model of assessment as failing to provide evidence-based research and was discredited by Professor Tom Shakespeare and colleagues as being ‘evidence of policy-based research’.

Disabled activists and academic research will come to argue that the Waddell-Aylward biopsychosocial (BPS) has been created by the insurance industry to put much of the blame for disability on the disabled person, rather than on the barriers they face in society, and to make it easier to reject claims (for both insurance and benefits) (Rutherford, 2007; Shakespeare, Watson, and Abu Alghaib, 2016). 

Why significant: The report provides the unacknowledged intellectual framework for the 2006 Welfare Reform Bill, and the basis for the future adoption of the Work Capability Assessment and the introduction of the Employment and Support Allowance, introduced to limit access to long-term disability benefit.


'The Scientific and Conceptual Basis of Incapacity Benefits', Waddell and Aylward
'New Labour, the market state, and the end of welfare', Rutherford
'Blaming the victim, all over again: Waddell and Aylward’s biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability', Shakespeare, Watson and Alghaib, 2016
‘Biopsychosocial’ basis for benefit cuts is ‘cavalier, unevidenced and misleading’, Pring, 2016
'THE HIDDEN AGENDA', Stewart, 2013