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McCausland calls for your views on Work Capability Assessment

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland has called on the public for evidence for the fourth independent review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA).
Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The publication of 'The Work Capability Assessment – A Call for Evidence: Year 4 Independent Review’ provides an opportunity for all interested groups and individuals across Northern Ireland to have their say on the Work Capability Assessment and to provide evidence of their experiences.

The Minister said: “This annual review plays an important role in the Social Security Agency’s policy making regarding Work Capability Assessment and helps improve the experience for their claimants. The WCA has already been subject to three independent reviews which delivered considerable improvements to the assessment process. However we cannot be complacent, as there is always room for improvement.

“I want to encourage everyone with an interest in this issue to complete the questionnaire before the closing date on 27 August so that we can build on the progress already made. In particular, my Department would like to hear from individuals or groups who have experience of the assessment and can provide constructive and evidence based suggestions for improvement.”

Professor Malcolm Harrington, an occupational health specialist, has completed three independent reviews of the Work Capability Assessment in Northern Ireland between September 2011 and November 2012. The Department for Work and Pensions has commissioned Dr. Paul Litchfield, a senior occupational physician, to undertake the fourth Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment and Northern Ireland will be included in the review.

The information gathered will inform the fourth review of the Work Capability Assessment in Northern Ireland.

The call for evidence period begins on 10 July 2013 and runs until 27 August 2013 and is available online at

Responses can be submitted by post to: Litchfield Review, Room 304, Castle Court, Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1DD or by email to:

Notes to editors

  1. The Department for Social Development (DSD), in conjunction with the Department for Work and Pensions, has commissioned Dr. Paul Litchfield to undertake the fourth Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), as required by section 10 of the Welfare Reform Act (Northern Ireland) 2007. This call for evidence will be one of several methods used to gather information during the review. Evidence submitted will be used to create Dr. Litchfield’s final independent report, which will be laid before the Assembly by the end of 2013. Legislation requires that one further review will be undertaken in 2014.
  2. Dr Paul Litchfield is Chief Medical Officer for BT Group plc and joined the company in 2001 having held senior posts in occupational medicine in both the public and private sectors. His fields of expertise include mental illness and the impact it can have on work prospects. As a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council, he has also played a key role in raising the profile of the economic impact of chronic disease. Dr Litchfield is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and the Faculty of Occupational Medicine for which he is currently Chair of the Ethics Committee. In 2007 he was awarded the Order of the British Empire for services to occupational health. In addition to being a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on health and wellbeing, he is a project board member of the Wellness Alliance.
  3. This call for evidence will be used to inform Dr. Litchfield’s report to the Minister for Social Development, which will be laid before the Northern Ireland Assembly before the end of 2013. As an Independent Review, Minister is not required to accept any or all of the recommendations, and any recommendations may be subject to further assessment by DSD.
  4. The questionnaire invites responses from individuals who wish to share their experiences, and from organisations whose collective knowledge remains a vital part of the call for evidence and the wider review process.
  5. Media enquiries to DSD Communications Team on 028 90829215. Out of office please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699715440 and your call will be returned.