What is ESA?

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit that focuses on what a person can do, as opposed to focusing on what they can’t do.  With Incapacity Benefit, there were figures to show that someone on the benefit for two years was more likely to retire or even pass away than to get back into…

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Is ESA forcing people into work?

ESA does not force people into work but does require them to take part in some kind of work-related activity.  This is more about offering them help and support to see what they can do and where this might take them. People with the most severe conditions get more financial help through the Support components…

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Work Capability Assessment and Medical Evidence

Why Does ESA require customers to attend a medical assessment? This system is actually much the same as what was in place under the previous Incapacity Benefit system. The Work Capability Assessment or WCA is a professional assessment of the eligibility of someone for ESA based on what they can do, as opposed to what…

What are the conditions of work related ESA?

People who are not in the support group may be required to take part in work-focused interviews.  Under the Welfare Reform Act 2007, there is a provision for additional work-related activity, it has not been introduced to ESA so far and further regulations would be needed for this to happen.  There is currently no intention…

Is ESA a waste of time and resources?

Employment numbers have been steadily improving in recent years but there are still plenty of vacancies out there and the Employment Service can help fill those roles.  With the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s, people were often written off and put onto inactive benefits that did little to help them get back into work…

When are WFIs waived or deferred?

This tends to be done when the person is close to returning to work and has an imminent start date for a new job, so the interview would be pointless. Deferrals can happen for a wide range of reasons and time frames.  A short term problem could see a simple rearrangement for another date.  Longer…

What is the potential effect of imposing work focused interviews on vulnerable people, particularly any with mental health conditions?

There is a full range of safeguards in place to protect people who are vulnerable and have mental health problems.  This includes home visits, encouragement from a support worker being present and pre-interview contact with the ESA advisers, so people completely understand the process.  There can be times when mandatory intervention is the best option…

What about people with the most severe conditions?

Anyone who is assessed as having the most severe disabilities or health conditions will go into what is known as the Support group.  They will be exempt from Work Focused Interviews. Support group people are those who have illnesses or disabilities that mean it is unreasonable to the requirement to them get involved with work-related…