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DWP Gets Tough On ESA Claimants

November 28, 2014

With many thanks to Welfare Weekly.

The Department for Work and Pensions has today announced a number of changes to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Work Capability Assessments (WCA).

Some of those changes are outlined below:

“Today we are announcing a package of ESA measures to improve further the support we offer disabled people and people with health conditions.

“In early 2015 we are introducing a number of pilots to help us better understand what support ESA claimants need to help them move back into work. The more intensive support pilot will increase the frequency and intensity of Work Coach support for the first six months following completion of the Work Programme.

“The more intensive support pilot will increase the frequency and intensity of Work Coach support for the first six months following completion of the Work Programme.

“In specific ESA ‘hotspots’ (areas that need the most help) we will be piloting a more active regime for ESA claimants. Those awaiting a WCA will be offered voluntary employment-related Work Coach interventions and we will also be testing occupational health advice for Work Coaches and back pain management support for claimants with this common musculoskeletal condition.

“From early 2015, we are implementing a trial of the Claimant Commitment for ESA claimants at various stages of the claimant journey. Universal Credit claimants are required to accept a Claimant Commitment as a condition of entitlement, so the trial will inform our preparation for the cultural transformation that the introduction of Universal Credit requires for claimants and staff.

“The trial will take place in a single Jobcentre Plus District, with the groups being ESA claimants:

  • awaiting a WCA (participation will be voluntary for this group);
  • following a WCA (when allocated to the Work Related Activity Group); or
  • who have completed their participation on the Work Programme.

“The Claimant Commitment helps to focus claimants on their work related requirements including, where appropriate, proactive work search that treats looking for work as a full time activity. For the first time claimants’ obligations are recorded in one place, clarifying both what they are expected to do in return for benefits and support, and exactly what happens if they fail to comply.

“We intend to introduce a measure to allow for a new extended period of sickness on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in April 2015.

“This will mean that claimants who expect to be sick for less than 13 weeks can opt to remain on JSA rather than switch to ESA. This will allow them to continue to benefit from the support of the Jobcentre to help them return to work – as soon as they have recovered from their health condition.

“We intend to introduce a measure to prevent claimants being paid the ESA assessment rate where a claimant has been found fit for work, but makes a repeat claim for benefit and has not developed a new condition or had a significant worsening of their condition.

“We would still need to consider the repeat claim but while we are considering it, and pending any appeal against our refusal of that claim, no ESA would be paid although JSA could be claimed. This is due to be introduced next spring and should help ensure that claimants found fit for work claim JSA and remain closer to the labour market, rather than looping around the ESA system.

“We will evaluate the results of these pilots and consider any changes needed as part of the next spending review.”

Responding to the announcement, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Gillian Guy said:

“Employment Support Allowance is not fit for work. The Government’s failure to get right support for sick and disabled people is unacceptable. We have long campaigned to make ESA fit for work, and the changes proposed by Government today do not appear to address the deep-seated problems with this system. More than 180,000 people have come to us for help with ESA in the past year.

“Urgent changes to fit for work tests must be made to reduce waiting times and improve the accuracy and consistency of the assessments. Many Citizens Advice clients have been left for up to six weeks whilst waiting for a second opinion on their claim, whilst other people have been charged more than £100 by GPs for medical evidence to support their appeal. Ministers must ensure no one claiming ESA is left without financial support whilst challenging an assessment decision. Anyone who is sick or disabled and in need of support has every right to expect a system which is fair, gets decisions right first time and where they do not have to pay for medical evidence to support their claim.”

Click here to find out more (pdf)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Maria permalink
    November 28, 2014 4:56 am

    I’m confused, their are no measures here to help you into to work. Help you off benefits, I see that one. But there is nothing about creating basic decent jobs. You know full time hours, living wage, job security, holidays and in general workers rights. Where are those things in the plan?

    • November 28, 2014 8:11 pm

      their idea is every illness can work so they will get you a work coach who will drum you with things that you will be able to do so therefore forcing you off benefits as they found you a telesales job you sit down and talk on the phone !! this government as even decide people with Parkinson and MS can be cured !! so really if you have a condition tough still get to work

  2. November 28, 2014 7:48 am

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  3. Barry permalink
    November 28, 2014 4:32 pm

    Well the help I got when I asked for it was 3 months sanctions because apparently when they phoned me up to talk to me the phone operator decided he was in mortal risk it could have been the firtst murder over the phone I suppose but then apparently asking a job centre employee to do is job is a sanctionable offence.

  4. fiona permalink
    August 27, 2015 7:13 pm

    Have been told I have no rights to get ESA, was getting in 2013, now the law says I am well enough to work.I suffer from chronic migraines nearly every day. Gp has given them letters but it isnt good enough, dwp want everyone off benefits so they can save money. Duncan Smith lives in a very rich area in a mansion, he does not care if the most vulnerable people in society cannot even buy food, he should be sacked immediately.

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