New ‘Chance to Work Guarantee’ will remove barriers to work for millions

A new ‘Chance to Work Guarantee’ will transform the prospects of millions of people currently out of work, supporting them to realise their aspirations and potential

  • Changes announced at Autumn Statement will tear down barriers to work for over 2.4 million claimants, who will be able to try work without fear of reassessment or losing health benefit top-ups
  • New measures will help to grow the economy by providing long-term sick and disabled claimants a Chance to Work Guarantee – brought forward from the White Paper reforms announced earlier this year – and by making the Work Capability Assessment fit for the modern world of work
  • These changes to support the most vulnerable represent the next step in Government’s welfare reforms, alongside the new £2.5 billion Back to Work Plan and following the landmark Health and Disability White Paper published earlier this year

The changes announced today as part of the Government’s next generation of welfare reforms will free up claimants to try work with no fear of losing their benefits, including health top-ups, with the prospect of re-assessments removed entirely for most claimants.

Alongside the Chance to Work Guarantee, Universal Credit claimants will benefit from boosted Work Allowances meaning that long-term sick and disabled claimants can keep £404 of earnings every month without this affecting their welfare payments, effectively ‘de-risking’ the journey into work.

As part of the offer, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will also provide targeted help as part of its £2.5 billion Back to Work Plan, including through an expanded Universal Support scheme which places people into jobs and provides wraparound care to give the best chance of success in a role.

Alongside this, the Work Capability Assessment is being overhauled for those newly moving onto health benefits so work preparation requirements better reflect the opportunities available in the modern world of work, whilst protecting those unable to work.

The proportion of people on the highest level of award and assessed as having no work-related requirements has risen from 21% in 2011 to 65% in 2022 – meaning people are over three times more likely to be written off work today than they were over a decade ago.

One in five people currently on the highest tier of health benefits, with no work preparation requirements, would like to work in the future with the right support. But more than half of those who felt they could work within the next two years saw a fear of not being able to return to benefits as a barrier to work.

We know people remain on these benefits for a long time – only 1% of people leave certain health and employment benefits each month. The Government’s Chance to Work Guarantee is designed to address these concerns, empowering more health benefit claimants who want to try work, while ensuring fairness for the taxpayer as claimants’ benefits taper off over time as they increase their hours in work.

Meanwhile, new flexibilities in the labour market mean that more people can undertake some form of tailored and personalised work-related activity, with the right support. For example, 40% of people reported working from home at some point in the previous week in Winter 2023, compared with just 12% throughout 2019. And of around 8 million jobs advertised online between April and October 2023, over 20% were either remote or flexible, compared to less than 4% over the same time period in 2016.

That’s why we are reforming the Work Capability Assessment to make it fit for the modern world of work. In the first major review of the Work Capability Assessment activities and descriptors since 2011, we will:

  1. Remove the ‘Mobilising’ part of the assessment that currently places people into a group where no work preparation is required – this will reflect that many of the claimants with these issues in the modern world of work will be able to undertake some work or work preparation with the right support
  2. Amend the regulations that determine whether mental health issues are assessed as putting claimants at ‘Substantial Risk’ if they are required to undertake any level of work preparation - these amendments will realign the regulations with the original intention of applying only in exceptional circumstances, whilst still protecting and safeguarding the most vulnerable
  3. Reduce the points awarded for some of the Limited Capability for Work (LCW) ‘getting about’ descriptors, reflecting the rise of flexible and home working opportunities in modern workplaces.

This will mean around 370,000 people by 2028/29 who under current assessment rules would receive no support from DWP as they would have been placed in the Limited Capability for work-related activity (LCWRA) group will now be offered personalised support to help them move closer towards work.

These changes will not affect existing claimants whose circumstances remain the same, reflecting the need to ensure a continuity of service for them, and will mean that these claimants will not lose money as a result of the changes.

Protections on the Work Capability Assessment will remain for those with the most significant health conditions or where any work preparation activity would lead to a deterioration in a claimant’s physical health.

In the absence of these changes the OBR combined forecast for those on the highest tier of health benefits was due to grow from 2.4m in 23/24 to 2.9m in 2028/29; these changes will have more than halved the net inflows to this group. To ensure measures are brought forward safely and correctly, changes will not be implemented nationally until at least 2025.

This all comes alongside the Back to Work Plan, a package of reforms and new support to one million people with help to find or stay in work. These changes include £2.5 billion of investment over the next five years, with expansion of Universal Support, Talking Therapies and Individual Placement and Support designed to provide treatment and support to help disabled people and people with long-term health conditions towards work.

The Government is taking the long-term decisions of welfare reform, ensuring fairness for both claimants and taxpayers, and stepping up the support on offer to the most vulnerable claimants and tearing down barriers to work.

Department for Work and Pensions