How the proposed benefit changes will impact people with Parkinson’s

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) plans to change the Work Capability Assessment for people claiming Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance.

The proposal

The DWP has proposed changes to the Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) health assessment: the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). 

The WCA determines whether someone has limited capability for work or work-related activity. 


If someone is assessed as having limited capability, they are protected from the risk of losing their benefits if they don’t secure a job or increase their hours. This is known as conditionality. 


Why are these changes being proposed?

Setting out the proposed changes, the DWP says that more people can work from home or more flexibly. They claim that this means people with long-term conditions like Parkinson’s can manage their conditions more easily and so are more able to work.

Based on this, the DWP has proposed making the WCA criteria harder to meet. This could mean more people with Parkinson’s face a tougher job accessing benefits. 


What it means for People living with Parkinson’s

But the reality is, according to data from the Office for National Statistics, the vast majority of people still have to travel to a workplace. In contrast, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development says there’s unmet demand for different types of flexible working.


Read the flexible and hybrid working practices in 2023 report on the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development website.

The DWP says that the proposed WCA changes will "facilitate work opportunities for those who are able, and not exclude people from the support they are entitled to."


But the changes will not, in themselves, generate new flexible working opportunities. And people who are protected from conditionality are not prevented from accessing work-related support. 


We are concerned that conditionality, the pressure to take up work or increase the number of hours or risk losing benefits, will aggravate some people’s Parkinson’s symptoms. 


We are also concerned that this will mean people with Parkinson’s are less likely to be able to work, and therefore miss out on financial support.


How you can help

We’ve written to the DWP calling on them to scrap their WCA proposals.


But it’s important that as many people in our community as possible let the DWP know that they object to these proposals. 


Your action will help us make sure that working age people with Parkinson’s continue to receive the financial support they need, without being pressured into taking up work or increasing their hours.

Ask your MP to take action on the Work Capability Assessment proposals

Tell your MP how the changes will put added pressure on people with Parkinson’s. Ask them to share your concerns and urge the UK government to scrap the proposed changes.