Following yesterday’s budget, the Welfare Reform and Work Bill has now been published. It contains a strong indication that claimants waiting to be transferred from incapacity benefit to employment and support allowance (ESA) will still have the chance to be paid the work-related activity component (WRAC), even it has been abolished for new claims.
The Welfare Reform and Work Bill it is primarily enabling legislation which contains very little in the way of detail about the changes that are to be made to the benefits system.
However, in relation to abolishing the WRAC the bill makes provision for “transitional or transitory
provision or savings as the Secretary of State considers necessary or expedient”.
The bill goes on to say that regulations:
“may in particular make provision about including a work-related activity component in an award of employment and support allowance that is converted under paragraph 7 of Schedule 4 to the
Welfare Reform Act 2007 from an award of incapacity benefit, severe 20 disablement allowance or income support after the coming into force of subsections (1) to (3).”
In other words, the DWP are intending to allow claimants who are currently on incapacity benefit to receive the WRAC, even if they are put in the work-related activity group after the additional component has been abolished for new claims.
This is clearly good news for the many thousands of claimants still on incapacity benefit and is intended to ensure that there is as little protest as possible about the changes. Most of those affected do not even know yet that they are going to make a claim for ESA in the future.
However, there are still many questions left unanswered.
Most importantly, the Bill gives no indication of when changes to ESA will take place – it is entirely up to Iain Duncan Smith to decide.
In addition, there is no indication of whether the changes will apply to people who have made a claim for ESA but are still awaiting a decision on the date when the new regulations come into force.
We’ll keep members posted when more information becomes available.
You can download a copy of the Welfare reform and Work Bill from this link.