Employment and Support Allowance

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 4th October 2017.

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Photo of Lisa Cameron Lisa Cameron Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Mental Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what transitional arrangements are in place for claimants whose health deteriorates when in receipt of jobseeker's allowance if their claim is stopped and they are advised to claim employment support allowance.

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

An error has been identified in the written answer given on 28 September 2017.

The correct answer should have been:

Since August 2017 we have been focussing on more proactive case management to reduce delays and speed up the clearance of mandatory reconsiderations for personal independence payment. A similar exercise for mandatory reconsiderations for employment and support allowance has started, looking at the entire journey from when the customer first challenges the Department’s decision, from which we expect to be able to identify opportunities to reduce delays in the current process and speed up clearance of mandatory reconsiderations.

The median monthly clearance time for employment and support allowance mandatory reconsiderations in July 2017 was 13 days, 1 day less than in April 2017. However it is important that sufficient time is allowed for customers to provide any additional evidence that will help to support their case. Accordingly there is no target time for clearing mandatory reconsiderations – each is done without delay, but based on its merits.

If a JSA claimant’s health deteriorates, and the period of sickness is expected to exceed 13 weeks, a claim should be made to ESA or Universal Credit (UC) in relevant geographical areas.

In this instance the claimant would need to close their JSA claim and make a new claim to ESA. ESA can be claimed immediately following the closure of a JSA claim and, provided the claim to ESA was made within 12 weeks of closing their JSA claim, the claimant would not have to serve waiting days.

There are no transitional arrangements between the benefits however, the aim is for there to be no unnecessary interruption of funds to the individual. Where a claimant is in urgent financial need whilst their ESA claim is being processed, they can apply for additional support in the form of an advance on their first payment, known as a “short term benefit advance”, or a hardship payment. The claimant will receive a benefit advance payment on the same or next working day.

If the JSA claimant’s period of sickness is likely to be for less than 13 weeks (referred to as an Extended Period of Sickness (EPS)), the claimant may choose to remain in receipt of JSA rather than claiming ESA/UC. If they choose to do this, they will receive the same amount of JSA benefit.

To qualify for an EPS the claimant must not be fit for any work and this will be determined based on the medical evidence supplied. During this period the claimant will be treated as being available for work, and the Work Coach will tailor the conditionality requirements on their Claimant Commitment, taking into account the claimant’s health condition.

An EPS can only be declared for one continuous period of sickness of 13 weeks or less in any 12 month period calculated from the start of the period of sickness. Once it is clear the period of sickness will last for 13 weeks or more, the claimant will be advised to make a claim to ESA or UC.

In areas where UC Full Service is in place, the claimant will be advised to claim UC rather than ESA.

One of the policy designs of Universal Credit is that it removes the need for claimants to switch between different benefits as their circumstances change, simplifying the system and ensuring continuity for claimants.

As stated, there are no transitional arrangements for UC. Where a claimant advises they cannot manage financially until their pay day (UC is paid monthly, unlike JSA and ESA which are fortnightly), an advance can be made. This advance is recoverable from further payments of UC, at a rate agreed between the claimant and the Work Coach.

Universal Credit is a much simpler system with clearer rules and clearer rates. It has an easy to use online account, where claimants can report changes of circumstance in real time. UC Support for disabled people under UC reflects two core components of the old ESA system, ensuring that more severely disabled people benefit from higher payments.

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Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

Since August 2017 we have been focussing on more proactive case management to reduce delays and speed up the clearance of mandatory reconsiderations for personal independence payment. A similar exercise for mandatory reconsiderations for employment and support allowance has started, looking at the entire journey from when the customer first challenges the Department’s decision, from which we expect to be able to identify opportunities to reduce delays in the current process and speed up clearance of mandatory reconsiderations.

The median monthly clearance time for employment and support allowance mandatory reconsiderations in July 2017 was 13 days, 1 day less than in April 2017. However it is important that sufficient time is allowed for customers to provide any additional evidence that will help to support their case. Accordingly there is no target time for clearing mandatory reconsiderations – each is done without delay, but based on its merits.

If a JSA claimant’s health deteriorates, and the period of sickness is expected to exceed 13 weeks, a claim should be made to ESA or Universal Credit (UC) in relevant geographical areas.

In this instance the claimant would need to close their JSA claim and make a new claim to ESA. ESA can be claimed immediately following the closure of a JSA claim and, provided the claim to ESA was made within 12 weeks of closing their JSA claim, the claimant would not have to serve waiting days.

There are no transitional arrangements between the benefits however, the aim is for there to be no unnecessary interruption of funds to the individual. Where a claimant is in urgent financial need whilst their ESA claim is being processed, they can apply for additional support in the form of an advance on their first payment, known as a “short term benefit advance”, or a hardship payment. The claimant will receive a benefit advance payment on the same or next working day.

If the JSA claimant’s period of sickness is likely to be for less than 13 weeks (referred to as an Extended Period of Sickness (EPS)), the claimant may choose to remain in receipt of JSA rather than claiming ESA/UC. If they choose to do this, they will receive the same amount of JSA benefit.

To qualify for an EPS the claimant must not be fit for any work and this will be determined based on the medical evidence supplied. During this period the claimant will be treated as being available for work, and the Work Coach will tailor the conditionality requirements on their Claimant Commitment, taking into account the claimant’s health condition.

An EPS can only be declared for one continuous period of sickness of 13 weeks or less in any 12 month period calculated from the start of the period of sickness. Once it is clear the period of sickness will last for 13 weeks or more, the claimant will be advised to make a claim to ESA or UC.

In areas where UC Full Service is in place, the claimant will be advised to claim UC rather than ESA.

One of the policy designs of Universal Credit is that it removes the need for claimants to switch between different benefits as their circumstances change, simplifying the system and ensuring continuity for claimants.

As stated, there are no transitional arrangements for UC. Where a claimant advises they cannot manage financially until their pay day (UC is paid monthly, unlike JSA and ESA which are fortnightly), an advance can be made. This advance is recoverable from further payments of UC, at a rate agreed between the claimant and the Work Coach.

Universal Credit is a much simpler system with clearer rules and clearer rates. It has an easy to use online account, where claimants can report changes of circumstance in real time. UC Support for disabled people under UC reflects two core components of the old ESA system, ensuring that more severely disabled people benefit from higher payments.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes0 people think so

No3 people think not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.