Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:09 pm on 17th November 2016.

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Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions 3:09 pm, 17th November 2016

Bear with me. In response to the hon. Lady and my hon. Friend Caroline Ansell, we aim to protect existing claimants who temporarily leave the benefit—for example, to try out work—and who then return. We will introduce draft regulations in due course to set out the detail. Nor will the change affect anyone whose ability to work is significantly limited by their health condition or disability. They will be in the support group or the universal credit equivalent.

On that point, let me recognise the concerns that have been expressed about the binary nature of the work capability assessment and how someone’s fitness to undertake a particular type of work is not an indication of how close to the labour market they might be. We need to take into account several other factors, including their skills, in making that assessment. That is why the Green Paper focuses on the work capability assessment and its reform. I hope that that will be welcomed by all Members, particularly the hon. Members for Strangford (Jim Shannon), for Glasgow East (Natalie McGarry) and for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Dr Cameron), who mentioned it.

We have sought to get people to fit the system rather than to be part of a system that recognises the importance of personalised support. Everyone’s circumstances will be different, as will their multiple challenges.