Clause 51 — Period of entitlement to contributory allowance

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

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Photo of Jennifer Willott Jennifer Willott Liberal Democrat, Cardiff Central 1:45 pm, 1st February 2012

I am grateful to the Minister, and I hope that when the figures flow through on appeals that have taken place under the new system, we see a reduction in the number of decisions overturned, and in the number of people who go to appeal. That would suggest that the assessment was working properly.

If we make sure that the assessment works properly, it will reduce the arbitrariness of the timetable, but as the Minister mentioned in an intervention on the Opposition spokesman, the right hon. Member for East Ham, it is important that we recognise that many people will receive six months’ statutory sick pay before they go on to the ESA, so they will be receiving benefits for 18 months. It is important that the Government continue the work that is being done to look at ensuring that employers work with staff when they become disabled or fall sick, and do not immediately push them on to ESA. Instead, employees should get the support that they need, possibly to stay in work over an extended period, and get their full entitlement to statutory sick pay and ESA, so that they get the full 18 months’ support to which many of them will be entitled.