Leading UK poverty charity Turn2us is highlighting how work related requirements for Universal Credit claimants awaiting a Work Capability Assessment leaves them vulnerable to sanctions.
Universal Credit is replacing income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), a benefit to support people whose ability to work is limited by their illness or disability. Claimants must undertake the Work Capability Assessment, which decides whether they have ‘limited capability for work’ or they are ‘fit for work’. Before the Work Capability Assessment, ESA claimants are treated as if they have ‘limited capability for work’ so they have less strict conditions to get their benefit, but Universal Credit claimants are not, so they could be subject to the same requirements as someone who is not ill or disabled.
Turn2us says that imposing job seeking, work preparation and work-focused interview requirements on Universal Credit claimants waiting for the Work Capability Assessment puts them at risk of sanction, which could further impact their health and ability to work.
Which conditions are applied before the Work Capability Assessment depends on what the claimant and the job coach agree to put in the claimant commitment at the start of the Universal Credit claim. So it’s important that claimants ask that their health and limitations are taken into account when the terms are agreed.
Outlining the charity’s concerns, Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us Operations, said:
“People with an illness or disability should not be asked to fulfil conditions that they cannot meet. It puts them at risk of sanction which would have devastating consequences for them.”
Turn2us has also emphasised the importance of anyone struggling with accessing benefits to seek its help at Turn2us.org.uk. It says that it can help people understand and access what they are entitled to.