A new benefit - Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a new way of helping people with an illness or disability move into work, rather than stay on benefits. ESA replaces Incapacity Benefit and Income Support paid on incapacity grounds for new customers.
ESA will be introduced by the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) on 27th October 2008 and will only apply to new customers. Existing customers will initially continue to receive their existing benefits, so long as they continue to satisfy the entitlement conditions.
In Great Britain, over 2.6 million people depend on incapacity benefits, and yet nine out of ten customers want to return to work. ESA offers personalised support and financial help for customers who are not working due to an illness or disability. Central to ESA are new medical assessments which examine what the customer can do, rather than what they can't.
Healthcare professionals (either a doctor or nurse appointed by the Secretary of State, not the customer's own GP) will carry out a Work Capability Assessment with most customers, which is an assessment of how an individual's illness or disability affects their ability to work and carry out day-to-day activity. The Work Capability Assessment helps determine the customer's eligibility for ESA and their capability for work-related activity.
ESA is focused on support, and people will not be forced to take a job, or undertake any other work-related activity which may be detrimental to their health.
ESA builds on the Pathways to Work scheme, which helps people with an illness or disability into work, if they are able. This includes the support of a personal adviser who can provide access to a range of financial support, return-to-work programmes such as the New Deal for Disabled People, and specialist provision, including access to the Condition Management Programme
The Condition Management Programme is delivered by healthcare professionals and helps customers to manage and cope with their illness or disability in a work context. The personal adviser can also help the customer to find the right job with the support needed to sustain employment.
To make a claim customers will just need to make a single telephone call 0800 055 6688, with no initial claim forms to complete or sign, to start their application process. If you also wish to make a claim for Housing and Council Tax Benefit this will be done at the same time. The DWP will inform your local council directly for you.
Customers with speech or hearing difficulties can contact using a textphone on 0800 023 4888 to make their claim. Customers unable to claim by phone can claim via a representative or interpreter, by completing a printed claim form or through most Jobcentres, where a claim may be made face to face.
If you would like further information on Employment Support Allowance please click log on to the following website: www.dwp.gov.uk/esa
October Changes - Housing and Council Tax Benefit
Child Maintenance payments payable for a child will be fully disregarded for Housing & Council Tax benefit purposes with effect 27th October 2008 (prior to this date the disregard was £15.00)
From 6th October 2008 an extended payment is a change in Circumstances and the Local Authority will determine entitlement to this and treat the return to work as a change in circumstances, a new claim is not required. Although proof of income and capital will need to be provided
Customers applying for Pension Credit by telephone will be able to claim Housing & Council Tax Benefit alongside their Pension Credit claim . The telephone call is treated as the claim and the customer does not need to complete and sign a separate Housing / Council Tax Benefit claim form.