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Government plans to make many ESA support group claimants undertake work-related activities

The government has launched a consultation on changes to the work capability assessment which they say is aimed at putting “an end to the binary ‘can work/can’t work’ groups.” One of the aims of the green paper appears to be to oblige many claimants in the support group to undertake work-related activities.

The government’s green paper proposes a number of measures, including:

  • a review of Statutory Sick Pay and GP fit notes to support workers back into their jobs faster, and for longer;
  • encouraging Jobcentre Plus work coaches to signpost claimants to therapy;
  • the launch of a consultation on Work Capability Assessment reform;
  • encouraging employers to work with their employees with long-term health conditions to stop them from falling out of work;
  • to extending fit notes from doctors to other healthcare professionals to help ensure people receive more tailored support;
  • developing large scale trials on how health-led services and support can help get disabled people and those with long-term conditions back into work – with a specific focus on mental health and musculoskeletal conditions;
  • a wide-ranging debate about recognising the value of work as a health outcome.

However, it is the following passages which will be of most concern to ESA claimants:

“131. Instead, it ought to be possible to build a more effective approach to assessing entitlement to financial and employment support. For instance, establishing entitlement to financial support could still be decided by an assessment, but that assessment could be used solely to determine whether an individual should get additional financial support. Decisions on whether someone should engage with Jobcentre Plus or specialist programmes could then be made through a separate process. This would avoid the current situation where someone’s entitlement to additional financial support can also result in them being given no employment support.

“132. For instance, trained work coaches could have discretion to make case-by-case decisions about the type of employment support a person is able to engage with. To do this effectively, they would work closely with the person, building on information gathered at early discussions such as the Health and Work Conversation to ensure they are signposted to help that is appropriate to their needs. Work coaches will be able to draw on additional advice where needed, from Disability Employment Advisers and Community Partners, and could access specialist advice such as occupational health and Jobcentre Plus work psychologists where individuals have more complex health conditions.

“133. That important relationship with a work coach would then continue beyond the assessment, ensuring those assessed as needing the most financial support can still access the holistic health and employment support and signposting offered by and through Jobcentre Plus. Work coaches could have full discretion to tailor any employment support to each individual claimant. This approach would be truly responsive, allowing the work coach to adjust requirements and goals dependent on changes in a person’s condition or circumstances. This is particularly important for people with fluctuating health conditions, as the support available would always be reflective of their needs.

“134. This would mean that people are really offered a personalised service that takes appropriate account of their needs while still receiving the same financial support as under the current system – rather than having the offer of employment support determined by a fixed category. We would of course put safeguards in place to ensure that work coaches do not require someone to attend an appointment where this would not be reasonable.”

The aim appears to be to place claimants in the support group, allowing them the additional income that being in this group provides, but then leaving it up to work coaches to decide whether the claimant must undertake work-related activities.

The closing date for the consultation is 17 February 2017.

You can download the full consultation document from this link.

You can take part in the consultation from this link.

Comments  

#50 tintack 2016-12-04 19:27
Quoting Asbo:
hi tintack, I think Reform, being a government think tank inform the government so it's quite likely that they are planning to implement these changes if they can get away with it. I suspect the consultation is a whitewash in the same way that the PIP consultation, so that they can be seen to be consulting. As you'll know doubt know it comes across as 'helping' the disabled and wanting to half the employment gap but I have no doubt this is all psychobabble euphemism for cuts, especially as they will be targeting people with mental health and muscular skeletal health problems in the Support Group. I think B&W have covered it before because the Same Difference blog about the same linked back to here. But I guess B&W don't always comment too much at the Green Paper stage because it's not been passed yet.


Hi Asbo. I certainly wouldn't put it past them to try it if they thought they could get away with it, it's just that it's not been announced as government policy or part of the green paper (unless I've missed something). The petition website claims otherwise.

I do think they'd have real trouble getting it through if they did try it. Even some Tory MPs were very unhappy about the WRAG cut, so if they tried to do the same with the support group I doubt they'd have the numbers to get it through.
#49 Asbo 2016-12-04 00:30
hi tintack, I think Reform, being a government think tank inform the government so it's quite likely that they are planning to implement these changes if they can get away with it. I suspect the consultation is a whitewash in the same way that the PIP consultation, so that they can be seen to be consulting. As you'll know doubt know it comes across as 'helping' the disabled and wanting to half the employment gap but I have no doubt this is all psychobabble euphemism for cuts, especially as they will be targeting people with mental health and muscular skeletal health problems in the Support Group. I think B&W have covered it before because the Same Difference blog about the same linked back to here. But I guess B&W don't always comment too much at the Green Paper stage because it's not been passed yet.
#48 tintack 2016-12-02 23:13
Quoting Asbo:
Hi again TinTack
This was the subject of the blog, the link of which I posted last time we were discussing this. Here is the direct link to Reforms's website:
http://www.reform.uk/publication/working-welfare-a-radically-new-approach-to-sickness-and-disability-benefits/
That is where they talk about one flat rate out if work benefit for all and then those with 'mild to moderate' conditions will be assessed and subject to some conditionality which is why I wrote the blog publishing my email to them...since they couldn't be bothered to reply.


Hi Asbo. Yes, I know this is what we were discussing recently. What I'm questioning is the claim on the petition website that the government is planning to enact Reform's ridiculous idea. If it were part of the recently announced green paper I would have expected B & W's news articles to mention it. They do mention some concerning aspects of Damian Green's paper, but as far as I can see there is nothing there about this specific idea from Reform being enacted.
#47 Asbo 2016-12-02 17:03
Quote:
Quote:
Please post our petition on the benefitsandwork website?https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/support-disabled-object-to-benefit-changes-for-support-group-claimants
Is it true that the government is planning to cut the support group to the same level as JSA? Charlotte Pickles is certainly a deluded and dangerous fanatic who floated this insane idea a while back, but I haven't seen anything to suggest that this particular proposal is going to be enacted.

Even if they did try to do it I think they'd struggle to get it through. There are already some Tory backbenchers who are unhappy at the £30 per week cut which reduces the WRAG to the same level as JSA. If the government tried to do the same with the support group there would be even more rebels, and probably enough to stop it happening.
Hi again TinTack
This was the subject of the blog, the link of which I posted last time we were discussing this. Here is the direct link to Reforms's website:
http://www.reform.uk/publication/working-welfare-a-radically-new-approach-to-sickness-and-disability-benefits/
That is where they talk about one flat rate out if work benefit for all and then those with 'mild to moderate' conditions will be assessed and subject to some conditionality which is why I wrote the blog publishing my email to them...since they couldn't be bothered to reply.
+1 #46 tintack 2016-12-02 01:04
Quote:
Please post our petition on the benefitsandwork website?https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/support-disabled-object-to-benefit-changes-for-support-group-claimants
Is it true that the government is planning to cut the support group to the same level as JSA? Charlotte Pickles is certainly a deluded and dangerous fanatic who floated this insane idea a while back, but I haven't seen anything to suggest that this particular proposal is going to be enacted.

Even if they did try to do it I think they'd struggle to get it through. There are already some Tory backbenchers who are unhappy at the £30 per week cut which reduces the WRAG to the same level as JSA. If the government tried to do the same with the support group there would be even more rebels, and probably enough to stop it happening.
#45 Katie1964 2016-12-01 22:39
Please post our petition on the benefitsandwork website?https:/ /you.38degrees. org.uk/petition s/support-disab led-object-to-b enefit-changes- for-support-gro up-claimants
+1 #44 canttrusthesystem 2016-11-22 20:27
Quoting David Hoyle:
Perhaps we'll have the option of sanctions or Dignitas vouchers?

Foetal screeing next? What is their problem?
Aren't these human rights issues or legally challengable discrimination issues now?
Perhaps a crowd-funded court case or something?
I'm actually not at all joking. Is there some major action like that, that could be taken against all this snowballing prejudical social ghettoization and impoverishment of unwell and disabled people in this country?
+1 #43 Asbo 2016-11-11 17:04
Quote:
Quoting Asbo:
Hi Tintack

Just remembered I did a blog on this in May - the unanswered letter. I've only done two blogs this year, it's the one before last. That will be easier than copying and pasting it a bit at a time as you're only allowed 2000 symbols at a time here and it's quite a long letter. So here is the link for the full letter - let me know if you have problems accessing it and I'll go back to the copying and pasting!

http://moggymilitant.blogspot.co.uk/2016_05_01_archive.html


Thanks Asbo, that's really excellent. If they bothered to read the whole thing - and given their inability to cope with anything that challenges their propaganda I'd be surprised if they did - I'd love to have seen their faces. The fact they didn't even acknowledge your e-mail is disgusting - why do they bother to put their e-mail address on their website if e-mails will be ignored?

Of course, if the approach they advocate were so well founded on solid evidence they could have replied, with a short message including a few links to the research that they believe proves their case. The fact that no such message was forthcoming is damning. So they're happy to advocate an approach which the evidence shows will be hugely damaging, but can't even acknowledge an e-mail from one of the people who would be on the receiving end of those consequences should their ideas be enacted. What a bunch of moral cowards.
Thanks Tintack. Indeed. I guess part of me didn't expect a reply because what would they say? They know it's a load of hooey and so they had no answer which is why I needed to expose it by blogging! I guess the email wasn't on their site for the 'likes of us' - we're only the recipients of their pernicious policies after all and how very dare we contact them? !
+2 #42 tintack 2016-11-11 00:38
Quoting Asbo:
Hi Tintack

Just remembered I did a blog on this in May - the unanswered letter. I've only done two blogs this year, it's the one before last. That will be easier than copying and pasting it a bit at a time as you're only allowed 2000 symbols at a time here and it's quite a long letter. So here is the link for the full letter - let me know if you have problems accessing it and I'll go back to the copying and pasting!

http://moggymilitant.blogspot.co.uk/2016_05_01_archive.html


Thanks Asbo, that's really excellent. If they bothered to read the whole thing - and given their inability to cope with anything that challenges their propaganda I'd be surprised if they did - I'd love to have seen their faces. The fact they didn't even acknowledge your e-mail is disgusting - why do they bother to put their e-mail address on their website if e-mails will be ignored?

Of course, if the approach they advocate were so well founded on solid evidence they could have replied, with a short message including a few links to the research that they believe proves their case. The fact that no such message was forthcoming is damning. So they're happy to advocate an approach which the evidence shows will be hugely damaging, but can't even acknowledge an e-mail from one of the people who would be on the receiving end of those consequences should their ideas be enacted. What a bunch of moral cowards.
+3 #41 Asbo 2016-11-10 19:30
Hi Tintack

Just remembered I did a blog on this in May - the unanswered letter. I've only done two blogs this year, it's the one before last. That will be easier than copying and pasting it a bit at a time as you're only allowed 2000 symbols at a time here and it's quite a long letter. So here is the link for the full letter - let me know if you have problems accessing it and I'll go back to the copying and pasting!

http://moggymilitant.blogspot.co.uk/2016_05_01_archive.html
+2 #40 Asbo 2016-11-10 17:31
Hi Tintack
Sure - don't think if I've got space for it all so may have to post it in parts:

Part 1

Dear Reform

Re the above article on your website, I and countless other disabled people are under no illusion as to your agenda so we are not at all convinced and have no confidence in your barely concealed agenda in the above mentioned paper. But let's look at some of the statements contained in it:

"In the quarter to May 2015, just 1 per cent of claimants in the ESA Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) – those deemed able to carry out activity to help them move towards work – left the benefit. The employment rate for disabled people in the UK is just 48 per cent, compared to 81 per cent for the rest of the working-age population."

The reason that rates of employment are far lower among disabled people is because - er - they're disabled. The clue is in the name. Surely it's occurred to you that their rates of employment are largely due to the fact they cannot work in the sense you are talking about because of their disabilities and conditions, which may be physical, mental, both, invisible and/or fluctuating.

You go onto say that "the evidence shows that work is good for people’s health and wellbeing and being out of work is detrimental to it, including for many people with mental and physical disabilities".

Please cite the evidence and research. Indeed, research has shown that some work may be good for some disabled people some of the time. And the evidence shows this needs to be good work, well-paid work and that people need to have control in their working environment. There is evidence to show that poorly paid, menial and inappropriate work is actually detrimental to health. I will speak from my own experience here. I need to be at home most of the time (due to mental health and phobias as well as mental and physical fatigue and other physical disabilities).
+2 #39 tintack 2016-11-10 15:50
Quoting Asbo:
Yes, this is why I keep saying. Nothing new about it and just an excuse to buy and coerce most people in the Support Group. We spoke about this a few months ago Tintack - the ThinkTank Reform are behind it - and I posted the letter I wrote to them in here. They ignored it of course because it is a done deal and the consultation is a whitewash. I've still taken part in it though and would urge everyone to it, even if it's just to answer the questions about The Support Group. If we don't take part they will think we're not bothered.

Also the Select Committee are having concerns as you will see by following this link:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/news-parliament-2015/future-of-jobcentre-plus-report-published-16-17/


Hi Asbo. I missed the letter you sent to Reform, could you let me know where you posted it? I'd be interested to read it. Not surprised the bastards didn't bother to reply!
+3 #38 nobby66 2016-11-10 13:49
Thinly veiled plan to effectively put all Support Groupers back in with those deemed capable of work...why cover it up with all this flannel and call it the Green Paper to get rid of the Support Group all together.
The word 'support' does not now apply...it should be renamed the extra hassled group. The gov will spend more money lining the pockets of profiteering private business 'support agencies and work related employers' ( who get paid for hassling people into things they struggle to do under sanction threats) than they will ever save in sanctioning the benefits of those who cannot comply. Chronically ill people will have already been through the options of help to improve their lives with professionals in the NHS who know their health history so who exactly are theses tailored 'experts' they have found to miraculously get us over our lifelong problems. When you get to the chronic stage it means that there is no real fix on offer.
+4 #37 Asbo 2016-11-09 23:45
Quoting RedDog :
Here we go again, the government changing the goalposts again! When will these people understand that some claimants are just too ill and disabled to work. It's their health professionals that have assessed me as being completely unable to work! No amount of changing titles, rules or anything else is going to miraculously make me any less ill or disabled and able to benefit an employer in any shape or form!!!


Not only this, Reddog, we have one of the hardest disability assessments in the Western world to 'pass' and still they're not satisfied...it doesn't occur to them that the number of disabled and unable to work is at the right figure and they've just plucked this imaginary figure of reducing by one million out of thin air (exactly the same number as Lord Fraud and New Labour talked about...funny that). So they're trying to make us fit the figures not vice versa...
+2 #36 Asbo 2016-11-09 23:42
Quoting tinytim:
What about the drugs we are on says you should not operate any machinery is there a health and safety issue?



That's what the pilot scheme in islington GPs surgeries was about. Bringing the JC into areas where they've not dare ago before because of course the DWP and the JC know best about our health and medications (not)
+3 #35 Asbo 2016-11-09 23:39
Quoting Thisismyname:

Folks in the support group already have the option of going to the job centre and getting help looking for work. Clearly not enough of us in the support group are using this option..


Yes, it's called Permitted Work. I mentioned this in the consultation.
+2 #34 Asbo 2016-11-09 23:38
Quote:
I may be being a bit dim but isn't the support group EXCLUSIVELY for people too ill to undertake "work related activity"? i.e. if you could undertake "work related activity" then you wouldn't be in the support group.

So.....WTF!!!!!!
Wonko, they made the rules and now that it doesn't fit their agenda they can sadly change them at whim which is why me must resist
+2 #33 Asbo 2016-11-09 23:36
Yes, youarenumber6, I am urging everyone to fill it in, otherwise it will be skewed, even if people only do the questions on the Support Group. I know it's a whitewash, but if they try and lie about the results someone can send in an FOI request about the responses. the more of us that fill it in the better. The select committee are already having doubts:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/news-parliament-2015/future-of-jobcentre-plus-report-published-16-17/
+3 #32 Asbo 2016-11-09 23:33
[quote name="tintack


Yes, this is exactly what I'm expecting too. If we're right, Green's attempts to portray these "reforms" as an attempt to provide "help and support" are an obvious sham. In true Orwellian fashion, "personalised support" will mean harassment, bullying and sanctions.

And I've also put this in my consultation response
+3 #31 Asbo 2016-11-09 23:29
Quoting Camly91:
Does anyone know how long it usually takes to go from consultation stage to policy implementation?
.... Just wondering how long I have before life becomes truly intolerable rather than just dreadful! :(


Camly, they'll try and rush it through as fast as possible but it's only a Green Paper at the moment - the Select Committee is already having concerns as you will see by following this link:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/news-parliament-2015/future-of-jobcentre-plus-report-published-16-17/

Even thought he consultation may be a whitewash, I urge everyone to take part in it, even if it's just to answer questions about the Support Group. It is discrimination to just target those with Mental Health problems and those with Muscularskeleta l problems when all the time they've been telling us it's not the condition but how it impacts on us! They have decided to cut a million more from ESA for no other reason than some dodgy reason as to wanting to cut the unemployment gap between disabled and non disabled-people , dressed up as concern and equality, when we all know it's code for cuts. There was no mention of self-employment either in the consultation so I made a big point about this and also about being a supporter of UBI which would stop all this nonsense once and for all.

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