ESA: Potential Changes for New Claims in April 2017Jan 30th, 2017
The work related activity component, currently £29.05 per week, is paid to those ESA claimants with a limited capability for work who do not meet the criteria for the support component. Removal of the component will mean new claimants of ESA placed in the work-related activity group will receive the same amount as a Jobseekers Allowance claimant.
The corresponding limited capability for work element in Universal Credit (UC) will also be abolished for new claims. This means that, for adults, only those in the support group will receive additional support for disability with their UC award.
There are provisions to protect or exempt those currently in the ESA support group who may move into the work-related activity group after April 2017.
Weekly ESA awards for new claims from April 2017 will be as follows:
Work-related activity group: £73.10
Support Group: £109.65
The House of Commons library has recently published a research report which comprehensively records the debates on both sides of the issue [Click here to open the full report].
The DWP Impact Assessment claims:
“Aligning the rate of benefit paid to new claims for Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit with limited capability for work with the standard rate paid to claimants who are fully capable of work from April 2017 will remove the financial incentives that could otherwise discourage claimants from taking steps back to work.”
The review by members of the House of Lords and several disability charities found:
“… that the current ESA WRAG rate is already not enough to work as an income replacement considering that ESA WRAG claimants are likely to spend around two years out of work.
Furthermore the evidence from disability charities and disabled people themselves expressed serious concerns that such a cut would negatively impact on people’s health, not least their mental health, from the increased stress and anxiety that goes with struggling to pay the bills.
The review also found that such a cut would in fact hinder people’s ability to take steps back towards work as it would affect people’s ability to undertake work related activity, such as training and volunteering. Put bluntly the more you push disabled people closer to or further into poverty the less ‘work ready’ they are likely to be.”