Yesterday the Chancellor announced, as part of the Autumn Statement, a series of measures to reward work, help make work pay, and reform welfare. These measures build on the Back to Work plan, announced last week, which will help people with long-term health conditions and disabled people, who have difficulties finding employment, to overcome barriers to secure and stay in work.
A summary of key measures is below, and more information can be found at the following links:
- Chancellor backs business and rewards workers to get Britain growing – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Autumn Statement 2023 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Autumn Statement 2023: National Insurance Factsheet – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Work Capability Assessment: activities and descriptors – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Occupational Health: Working Better – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Autumn Statement Pensions Reform 2023 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Full expensing – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Work and welfare reform
- We’re expanding four programmes which support mental and physical health – Universal Support, NHS Talking Therapies, Universal Support and Individual Placement and Support and on top of this we’re launching our WorkWell service, which will be delivered with the Department for Health and Social Care to support almost 60,000 people who are at risk of entering long-term unemployment, to enter or return to the workplace.
- The government is reforming the Work Capability Assessment to ensure that people who can work are supported to do so via the welfare system. Changes to the activities and descriptors will better reflect the greater flexibility and reasonable adjustments now available in the world of work, preventing some individuals from being deemed not fit for work and ensuring they will be better supported into employment. These changes will only apply to new claimants.
- We’re also looking at reforming fit notes. We’ll be trialling reforms which will provide individuals whose health affects their ability to work with easy and rapid access to specialised work and health support.
- Alongside this additional support we’re also making the system fairer, by introducing mandatory work placements will boost skills and employability for those who have not found a job after 18 months of intensive support. Those who choose not to engage with the work search process for six months will have their claims closed and benefits stopped.
- To ensure families are supported with the cost of living, we are maintaining the triple lock for pensioners, uprating the State Pension by 8.5% in line with earnings. This means that the new State Pension will be worth up to £900 a year more.
- The Government is increasing working age benefits (including Universal Credit) in line with inflation, measured by September CPI which is 6.7% this year. Disability benefits such as PIP and Attendance Allowance will also increase by 6.7%.
- To support families that need most help to pay their rent, the Government will increase the Local Housing Allowance Rate to cover the cheapest 30th percentile of local properties in the private rented sector.
- Both the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage will increase. From 1 April 2024, the National Living Wage will increase by 9.8% to £11.44 an hour for 2.7 million eligible workers, which will include 21- and 22-year-olds for the first time. The National Minimum Wage rates will increase for young people and apprentices: for people aged 18-20 by 14.8% to £8.60 an hour, for 16-17 year olds and apprentices by 21.2% to £6.40 an hour.
- The Government remains determined that every pound of welfare spend goes to those who need it most so is continuing to crack down on fraud and error with new primary powers to access data held by third parties such as banks. This will enable DWP to identify fraud in the welfare system where fraudsters are currently unknown to us and reduce error, minimising debt.
Publication of consultations responses
- The response to the Occupational Health: Working Better consultation has been published. The Government is also continuing to explore the case for providing further support to employers through the tax system and will respond to the HMT and HMRC consultation Tax Incentives for Occupational Health in due course
- To support employers and employees to have better interactions about work and health, and to provide Occupational Health services, the Government will be establishing an expert group to support the development of the voluntary national baseline for Occupational Health provision and exploring the development of national workplace health and disability standards.
- Government will also explore options for a potential new SME group purchasing framework supported by a digital marketplace and use learning from our existing Workforce Expansion scheme to develop a long-term strategic OH workforce approach.
Work Capability Assessment – more detail
- We have published our response to the consultation on changes to the Work Capability Assessment criteria having carefully considered feedback from disabled people and people with health conditions, as well as the organisations that represent and support them. Our reforms reflect concerns raised as part of the process.
- We will be making changes to how we assess the Mobilising and Getting About activities as well as the Substantial Risk rules to reflect the modern world of work and greater employment opportunities for disabled people since the WCA criteria were last reviewed in 2011.
- We will continue to protect those with the most severe conditions while ensuring those that can work are supported in doing so. Our expanded employment and health offer will provide integrated and tailored support to disabled people to support them and help move claimants closer to work.
- Alongside these changes, we will also be bringing forward a new ‘Chance to Work Guarantee’ that will remove the fear of re-assessments and give people the confidence to try work, while providing continuity of service for vulnerable claimants.