ESA and JSA reforms – March & April – people with a health condition

During March and April, there will be a number of changes and pilots affecting people with a health condition or disability who are claiming benefits.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) reforms

From 23 March, DWP will deliver three pilots to build understanding about what support works best at different points of the claimant journey. The pilot findings will also inform the development of Universal Credit policy for claimants with health conditions.

• Trialling a Claimant Commitment for ESA claimants will take place in the East Anglia district. Work Coaches will offer on-going support and agree an ESA Claimant Commitment with the claimant, focusing on individual work related requirements. Where appropriate, this will include work preparation activities that will help the individual return to, or move into work.

• More Intensive Support increases the frequency and intensity of tailored support that Work Coaches provide to claimants in the six months after completing the Work Programme. More Intensive Support will be delivered in three districts – East and South East Scotland, Kent and West Yorkshire.

• Voluntary Early Intervention offers emplo yment-related support to new ESA claimants waiting for a Work Capability Assessment. The support will take account of the claimant’s specific needs to help keep them closer to returning or moving into employment. This pilot will be delivered in four districts – Glasgow, Lanarkshire and East Dunbartonshire; Black Country; Birmingham and Solihull; and South East Wales. The pilot will be evaluated in a number of ways to find out whether this policy should be rolled out nationally.

Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) extended periods of sickness

From 30 March, new legislation will be introduced nationally affecting JSA claimants with health conditions.

This will apply to those whose condition is expected to last less than thirteen weeks and those who have had two previous periods of sickness.

Changes will mean that individuals can volunteer to remain on JSA for any further period of sickness, rather claiming ESA.

Work search activities during this period will be agreed between the claimant and the Work Coach based on the claimant’s circumstances.

JobcentreRepeat claims to Employment and Support Allowance changes

New rules affecting repeat claims for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will be brought in from 30 March.

The changes mean that claimants who have been found to be capable of doing some work following a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) will not be paid the ESA assessment rate for a repeat claim, unless they have developed a new condition or an existing condition has significantly worsened.

People can currently make another claim for ESA after only six months even where there has been no change in their health condition, and be paid ESA again. The changes will remove the reference to ‘six months’ and remove entitlement to an ESA payment pending an appeal decision if the claimant has received two consecutive decisions that they ‘do not have limited capability for work’.

Where someone makes a repeat claim without a change in their condition, Decision Makers will be able to reconsider the evidence from the previous WCA when deciding whether to disallow the claim or to refer them for another WCA.

If following a mandatory reconsideration the DWP Decision Maker upholds the original decision, there is a right of appeal.

People who have had their ESA claim turned down should claim Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit as appropriate. This is to make sure that they get the right advice and support from Jobcentre Plus advisers or Work Coaches.

This change does not prevent someone from making another claim for ESA. It also does not prevent someone whose condition has significantly worsened or who has developed a new condition, from being entitled to ESA during the assessment phase.

DWP Touchbase March 2015

“Hope the above helps and the changes won’t affect you detrimentally?”

Work is good for your mental health

Thought I’d post an article derived from recent proposals from the Government regarding mental health and employment.

The Government has announced that a further £12 million is being invested to support people with mental health conditions return to work.

Nearly half (46 per cent) of people claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) have mental health conditions. Mental ill-health is estimated to cost taxpayers and businesses £105 billion a year in health and police services, welfare benefits and sickness absence.
Four pilot areas will use the funding to test whether better coordination of mental health and employment services could help thousands of people find and stay in work as well as to improve their mental health.

Each of the pilots will test a number of different approaches, including:

• Key workers and individual support packages to help claimants create bespoke action plans and coordinate existing local support services;
• Support for new employees to make sure they can stay in work and cope with anxiety and other on-going problems;
• Training employment advisers to identify mental health problems and GPs to recognise the importance of work in improving mental health.

Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said: “We want people with mental health conditions to have the same opportunities in the world or work as everyone else and not simply be written off as often happened in the past.

Lord Freud - Minister for Welfare Reform“That is why we are trialing different types of support to improve employment and health outcomes for people with common mental health problems.”

The four pilot areas are Blackpool, Greater Manchester, North East Combined Authority and West London Alliance. All four pilots were previously announced as part of the
Growth Deals agreements in July 2014 and will measure the impact of integrated services for 5,000 people.

The £12 million investment includes £6 million from the Department for Communities and Local Government and £6 million match-funding from the pilot areas.

A new cross-government Mental Health Taskforce has also been set up to look at the help people need to get back into work and how to improve crisis care and how to improve crisis care and mental health services for young people.

“These proposals look fine on paper, and that’s all. More measures nationally are needed now to assist people with mental health problems and their key workers, many of them having faced redundancy or relocation in the last few years.”