Lord Freud has announced that employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants in the work-related activity group (WRAG) will be able to do higher limit permitted work for an unlimited period, instead of stopping after 52 weeks.
At present, ESA claimants in the support group can work for less than 16 hours a week and earn not more than £107.50 for an unlimited time.
But WRAG claimants can only do this for 52 weeks and then they have to switch to lower limit permitted work, earning not more than £20 a week. After 52 weeks of lower limit permitted work, or no work, they can again do higher limit permitted work for 52 weeks.
However, Lord Freud announced in a debate on welfare reform this week that:
“I want to act now to improve the work incentives for those continuing to get ESA—in other words, before they move on to UC—by removing the 52-week limit that applies to permitted work for those in the ESA WRAG. ESA WRAG claimants can currently work up to 16 hours and earn up to £107.50 per week under the permitted work rules, and keep their benefit. But the existing position is that, after undertaking permitted work for 52 weeks, ESA claimants in the WRAG have to stop work altogether, reduce their earnings to £20 per week, or lose their benefit. We will amend the regulations to remove the 52-week limit and allow claimants to continue to undertake 16 hours of part-time paid work and earn up to £107.50 per week, gaining skills and experience and building their confidence while still receiving benefit over a longer period.”
No date has been given ,as yet, for when the regulations will be amended. So, for the present, the 52 week rule still applies.