Clause 51 — Period of entitlement to contributory allowance

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:45 pm on 1st February 2012.

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Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions 12:45 pm, 1st February 2012

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that we have to have a system that is fair both to the taxpayer who pays for it and to the recipients. As a result of these reforms, we will have a system that is fairer to those receiving support and also fairer to those who are paying for that support.

Support to find work, for those people who will be affected, will be available for all ESA claimants from the outset of their claim, through Jobcentre Plus on a voluntary basis until the outcome of the work capability assessment and, following the WCA, for those claimants placed in the work-related activity group, through Jobcentre Plus or through the Work programme. Every single person who is on ESA, including those on a contributory basis, has access to the Work programme.

Some have said that the limit is arbitrary. I do not accept that. As the Minister with responsibility for welfare reform explained in the other place, it is similar to that applied by several countries around the world, including France, Ireland and Spain, and strikes an appropriate balance between the needs of sick and disabled people claiming benefit and those who have to contribute towards the cost.