Disability Working Allowance (DWA) was introduced in 1992 as a benefit to top up the wages of disabled people working 16 hours a week or more. This was the first major attempt, within UK social security policy, to help disabled people take up and remain in paid jobs. The formal evaluation of DWA suggested that the benefit had failed in a number of respects. The purpose of this article is to reflect on what was achieved by introducing DWA. The author looks at the stated objectives and other evidence about what was behind the policy, including the aims of those who lobbied government on ‘partial capacity’. The author was secretary to the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) from 1988 to 1990 and subsequently worked with ministers on the development of DWA. The author aims to give some insight into the policy-making process, while respecting the confidentiality of advice given to ministers.
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