Ministers’ silence over why WCA legislation is missing from Queen’s speech

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Work and pensions ministers have refused to explain why plans for new social security legislation were dropped from last week’s Queen’s speech.

Disability News Service reported last week how a Tory election promise to “dismantle” the work capability assessment (WCA) through new legislation appeared to have been abandoned when it failed to appear in the Queen’s speech, which covered legislation that will be introduced over the next two years.

The minister for disabled people, Penny Mordaunt, had told a national disability hustings event a few days before the general election that a Conservative government would “legislate to reform the work capability assessment”, which “treats people like they are part of a sausage factory”.

And she said that ministers had “managed to get into the manifesto a legislative commitment to dismantle the work capability assessment”.

The manifesto did not mention replacing the WCA but it did promise that a Conservative government would “legislate to give unemployed disabled claimants or those with a health condition personalised and tailored employment support”.

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokeswoman denied this week that the failure to include a social security bill in the Queen’s speech meant ministers had abandoned its reforms.

She said: “We have comprehensively consulted on reforms to the work capability assessment as part of the Improving Lives: Work, Health and Disability Green Paper, and have committed to introducing more personalised and tailored support to help people stay in work and the unemployed to return to work.”

She added: “We remain strongly committed to help people with disabilities and health conditions get into and stay in work and are considering next steps in response to the green paper.”

When asked why the commitment to new legislation was missing from the Queen’s speech, she said: “We don’t take decisions on the content of the Queen’s speech.

“As I’ve said below, we have committed to introducing more personalised and tailored support to help people stay in work, and the unemployed to return to work.”

Asked if she could ask the relevant ministers – or their special advisers – why the bill had not appeared in the Queen’s speech, she said the press office had “nothing further to add”.