ESA under the cosh
Photo Paul Mattsson
The Tories intend to slash Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by almost £30 a week. ESA, which replaced incapacity benefit in 2008, is paid to disabled people or those too ill to work who have extra needs.
ESA claimants in the Work Related Activity Group (Wrag) currently get £28.75 a week more than Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA). The government will reduce this to just 50p a week more.
To qualify for ESA, claimants must go through a work assessment interview, previously carried out by the disgraced Atos company. There can be three outcomes: You could be found fit for work and told to claim JSA. You could be found to have limited capability for work and put in Wrag. Or you could be put in the support group.
Thousands either denied benefit or put in the wrong group have had their decisions overturned on appeal.
However, you can't claim benefit while the Mandatory Reconsideration is being made, so claimants are driven into absolute poverty, forced to go to charities just to get vouchers for food.
Additionally, someone on ESA or JSA can also receive housing benefit. However, if it is stopped, housing benefit also stops, with the threat of homelessness.
The Department for Work and Pensions advice is to claim JSA in the meantime. However, to claim JSA means that the claimant is admitting that they are looking for and capable of work - and therefore ineligible for ESA!
Osborne's welfare axe:
- Massively cut working tax credits to millions of families
- Slash Employment and Support Allowance for sick and disabled people
- Freeze benefit rates for the next two years
- Reduce the benefits cap by thousands of pounds a year
- Charge market rents to tenants in social housing earning above the average salary
- End full housing benefit for low income households
- Axe entirely the limited housing benefit to unemployed 18 to 21-year olds