The Government has stated that it wants to incentivise the disabled to get back in to the work place. Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is the out of work benefit paid to those who have a disability or permanent health condition.
From 6th April the benefit for those in the Work Related Activity Group of ESA will drop from £5,400 per year to approximately £4,800, a drop of some £1,500 per annum.
Catherine Richardson from Citizens Advice Bassetlaw warns: “This new rate will apply to all claims made after 6th April. Unfortunately, the changes mean that if you are currently in the Work Related Group and then take up employment which for whatever reason does not work out, a new claim for ESA, if successful, will see you receiving the new lower rate. Whether this acts as an incentive to take up work as was intended, remains to be seen.
As part of the Government plan to reduce the Benefit bill more and more disabled people are being moved from the Support Group who receive benefit at a higher rate than those in the Work Related Group. This has been achieved by changing the criteria by which the disabled are assessed including the medical assessment process.
“We have seen a tremendous increase in the last year compared to the previous year of requests for assistance in dealing with appeals against transfer from the Support Group or of termination of ESA altogether. Mandatory Considerations (the first stage appeal process) have increased in those two years from one to 24 and Appeals to a Tribunal have trebled.”
For information and advice, contact Citizens Advice Bassetlaw on their telephone service, 03444 111 444. A drop in service is available at the Worksop office based in The Annexe, Queens Building, Potter Street, Worksop (next to the Savoy Cinema) on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9.30am to 3.00pm and on Fridays from 9.30am to 1.00pm and at the Retford outreach office, 17b The Square, Retford on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10.00am to 2.00pm.