The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed its plans to change some benefits from 2025. This is what it could mean for people living with Parkinson’s.
At the beginning of November, we set out how the UK government had originally proposed to change benefits including Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) health assessment and the Work Capability Assessment (WCA).
These changes will affect people living across the UK.
Who will this affect?
The WCA is important as, once someone has been assessed, they will be allocated to 1 of 3 groups:
- the limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA) group
- the limited capability for work (LCW) group or
- the group for those who have no work-related limitations.
What do the different groups mean?
If someone is in the LCWRA group, they don’t have to do anything to prepare for or look for work. They also receive an extra £390.06 a month.
In contrast, those in the LCW group do not receive an extra disability payment, have to meet a DWP work coach regularly and may also have to prepare for work.
Preparing for work includes doing things like writing a CV and completing training or work experience. If someone in the LCW group does not do what is requested by the DWP, they risk losing some of their Universal Credit.
This is known as conditionality and the loss of income is known as being sanctioned.
The UK government is changing the rules on who gets allocated to the LCWRA group.
At the moment, if someone cannot walk more than 50 metres (approx 55 yards) without stopping because of pain or exhaustion, or can’t do so repeatedly within a reasonable period of time without pain or exhaustion, they will be allocated to the LCWRA group.
When the rules are changed, most people who have this degree of difficulty walking will no longer be allocated to the LCWRA group.
This means new claimants will receive hundreds of pounds a month less, will have to regularly meet a DWP work coach and may have to take part in work preparation activities.
This will not apply if walking difficulties make physical symptoms worse.
People who experience significant difficulty with other aspects of daily living, for example, dexterity or continence may still qualify for the LCWRA group.
The UK government also plans to increase the threshold for people to be allocated to the LCW group if they have limited ability to get about.
If someone is not allocated to either the LCWRA or LCW groups, they will have to do all they can to find a job or earn more. This includes looking for jobs, applying for jobs and going to interviews.
When will this happen?
These changes will not come into effect until 2025.
And, even after that date, people who are currently in the LCWRA group, will not be reassessed except in limited circumstances and so will remain in the LCWRA group.
From 2025, the DWP will offer those in both the LCW and LCWRA groups a Chance to Work Guarantee. Under the Guarantee, people can try working and if their job comes to an end within 6 months, they can return to the group they had been in, without having to be reassessed.
It’s important to note that because there will be a General Election by, at the very latest, January 2025 and if there is a change of government, these changes may not be brought in at all.
Sue Christoforou, Policy Manager at Parkinson’s UK, said:
"We don’t believe these changes are justified and we are very concerned that many working-age people with Parkinson’s will be worried about what the government has planned.
"That’s why we’ll continue to work with other charities and our Campaigns Network to press the government to scrap these plans."
What it means for People living with Parkinson’s
If you are in the LCWRA or LCW groups at the moment, nothing will change this year or next.
If you need help or support with your Universal Credit or any other benefit, or want to check whether you could claim benefits, get in touch with Parkinson’s UK via our helpline: 0808 800 0303 or email: [email protected].
How you can help
We’ve written to the DWP calling on them to scrap the WCA proposals. But it’s important that as many people in our community as possible let the DWP know that they object to these plans too.
The best way to do this is to write to your MP asking them to urge the UK government to scrap their WCA plans.
The WCA changes will put added pressure on people with Parkinson’s and we need them to share our concerns.
Advisers and helpline
Our specialist adviser team and helpline can provide information about any aspect of living with Parkinson's, including help with accessing benefits, health services and medications.
Call for free on 0808 800 0303.