Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 16th May 2018.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 21 March 2018 to Question 132726 on employment and support allowance, on what date the Cabinet Secretary issued the ministerial requirement that the wording of the ESA65B letters be revised.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 21 March 2018 to Question 132726 on employment and support allowance, for what reasons the revised ESA65B letter no longer notifies doctors that they should continue to provide fit notes for claimants if they are appealing a decision or their condition worsens.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 21 March 2018 to Question 132726 on employment and support allowance, if she will clarify whether an appellant will lose their entitlement to that allowance pending appeal if the appellant's GP stops signing fit notes.
The Cabinet Secretary first issued the requirement to revise the ESA65B letter in November 2014.
The wording of the ESA65B was changed to emphasise the benefits of work and to ask GPs to encourage their patients in their efforts to return to some form of work.
The wording of the revised version includes the following link to guidance for GPs on issuing fit notes: www.gov.uk/government/publications/fit-note-guidance-for-gps.
This includes a link to detailed guidance on the benefits system for GPs available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-short-guide-to-the-benefit-system-for-general-practitioners which includes guidance on when a claimant is appealing and where their condition worsens or they develop a new condition.
Claimants can be paid Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) whilst appealing a decision, the rate of which is equivalent to that of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). In order for someone to be paid ESA pending an appeal they need to provide the Department with fit notes in order to be treated as having Limited Capability for Work until the appeal is determined. However, this doesn’t apply where the claimant fails a second Work Capability Assessment. Where this is the case then ESA will not be paid pending the appeal and the claimant would need to claim JSA or Universal Credit (UC) (depending on where they lived).
If a claimant’s GP does not provide them with a fit note during the appeal period they cannot be paid ESA but are able to claim JSA or UC where eligible.
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