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Your guide to Employment and Support Allowance changes

April 19, 2017

Our Welfare Rights Adviser Anna Nash explains the recent changes to Employment and Support Allowance.

From April 2017, the Government has introduced changes to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit for new claimants placed in the Work Related Activity Group of ESA.

These claimants will receive the same amount of weekly benefit as those on Jobseeker’s Allowance.

People currently receiving the Work Related Activity Component of ESA are paid £102 a week; however the £30 reduction would mean those making a fresh claim for ESA will only receive a weekly rate of £72. No changes are to be made to the ESA Support Group.

Action for M.E. understands the adverse impact the proposed cuts may have on those with M.E. and the worry, anxiety and stress this may cause as a result of limited financial support. However we feel it is important for you to understand how the cuts will impact both current and future claims so that you are aware of your rights and entitlements. 

The cuts will affect people in the following ways:

  •  If you are currently receiving the ESA Work Related Activity Component, you will continue to receive the rate of the benefit you are currently on.
  • If you claim ESA after April 2017 and are placed into the Work Related Activity Group, you will be affected by the cuts and receive the benefit at the new reduced rate.
  • If you are currently in the Support Group and after April 2017 move into the Work Related Activity Group, you will not have your benefit reduced by £30 a week. As you will not be making a fresh claim, you will receive the current higher rate of benefit.
  • If you currently receive the Work Related Activity Component, and then secure a job and subsequently move off the benefit, any future claims you make for ESA (after April 2017) will be affected by the cuts. This means you will be paid at the reduced rate if you fall into the Work Related Activity Group.

It is acknowledged that with the nature of M.E. being a fluctuating condition, the proposed cuts raise issues for those who will fall in and out of work. However, the Government has implemented a 12-week grace period, whereby those who made a claim for ESA before 3 April and were placed in the Work Related Activity Group can pursue employment and then return to the group at the same rate of benefit if need be.

It is proposed that the same reduction will apply to new Universal Credit claims where those claiming are found to have limited capability for work. 

From April 2017 those making a new claim for Universal Credit and who are found to have limited capability for work will only receive the standard allowance of Universal Credit.

If you would like to discuss the April 2017 cuts and the potential impact this may have on you please contact our Welfare Adviser.