Concern about changes to ESA
Turn2us is warning of the consequences of the abolition of the Work-Related Activity Component for new claimants of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) that has come into effect this month. The charity says that it will make it harder for people in this group to return to work.
Before this change, the Work-Related Activity Component was an extra amount that was paid to ESA claimants placed in the Work-Related Activity Group after their Work Capability Assessment. ESA claimants must undergo a Work Capability Assessment which decides whether they are:
In the Work-Related Activity Group requiring them to undertake ‘work-related activity’, or
The Support Group with no requirements to undertake ‘work-related activity’, or
If they are ‘Fit for Work’ which will end their ESA claim.
As of August 2016, there were just under 2,385,090 ESA claimants in Great Britain, including 429,073 in the Work-Related Activity Group.
Successful ESA claimants receive a standard weekly amount a week, plus either money for claimants in the Support Group or, prior to this month’s abolition of the Work-Related Activity Component, money for claimants in the Work-Related Activity Group.
Support to undertake Work-related activity
Turn2us says that the money for claimants in the Work-Related Activity Group was important for giving those with an illness or disability support to undertake Work Related Activity, such as skills training that will help them find employment, which in turn also helps prevent claimants from being sanctioned.
Turn2us Director of Operations' comments
Emphasising the importance of this additional money to someone receiving ESA, Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us Operations, said:
“People with an illness or disability who are trying to find employment face extra barriers. There can be additional transport costs to attend training or an interview. We are therefore very concerned that people in this situation will now face these extra barriers to finding employment without the support that helps them overcome these barriers.”
Turn2us Welfare Benefits Specialist's comments
While Kelly-Marie Jones, Welfare Benefits Specialist at Turn2us, added:
“The purpose of ESA is to support people whose ability to work is limited by their illness or disability and to get them into a better position to start working again. We know that being ill or disabled incurs extra costs, be they related to improving health like higher food or heating costs, or overcoming barriers, for example additional transport costs for getting to training or interviews.
“It is difficult to see how cutting the financial support that helps address these issues will help ESA claimants improve their health and their ability to work. It is concerning that people in this situation will now face these extra barriers to finding employment without the support that helps to overcome 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.
You can also use our Find an Adviser tool to find a local benefits expert to advise you on your particular situation.