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 work. ESA aims to correct this by ensuring no-one is written off or ignored and that everyone has a good chance to get back into work where possible.
The aim of the benefit is to help those with an illness or disability to move into work, rather than being stuck on benefits. ESA offers personalised support and financial assistance for people who cannot work with the medical assessment being a central part of the system, deciding who can work and who cannot.
The Work Focused Interview or WFI is a key part of the return to work process for those claiming ESA. It is arranged with an Employment Service Adviser and is where people discuss barriers to returning to work. A package of support is then agreed to help them progress and eventually move into work where possible.
The aim of ESA is to offer fairer financial support to people, paying the work-related activity or support component after 13 weeks rather than waiting for 28 or even 52 weeks as was the policy with incapacity benefits.