People in the Support Group receive unconditional support but are entitled to volunteer for work-related activity (something which is compulsory in the WRAG). The rationale for this is to help people to test whether they might be able to return to work in the future or to boost their general mental health and well being. However a constituent recently suggested that people who took up this option were increasingly being called back for an immediate reassessment. If word gets around that this is what is happening then people might prioritise protecting their place in the Support Group and be discouraged from volunteering. I asked the Minister responsible Mark Hoban a written question and his answer from 11 March 2013 claimed that the policy hadn’t changed:
Sheila Gilmore: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether people in the employment and support allowance support group are automatically called for a reassessment when they choose to undertake voluntary work-related activity.
Mr Hoban: Following the work capability assessment a DWP Decision Maker will decide when the claimant will next be reassessed, taking into account all of the available evidence. Where a person in the support group chooses to undertake voluntary work-related activity they will not automatically be called for reassessment as a result of that.
I’ll continue to monitor this area.