The Telegraph reports that under Iain Duncan Smith’s, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions “flagship universal credit welfare programme” employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants will face sanctions next year if they fail to take steps to prepare for work and that this will extend to the period prior to assessment. Claimants waiting for assessment will be expected to look for job opportunities and have regular contact with their Jobcentre.

Lord Freud, Minister for welfare reform told the Telegraph:

“The overall aim of our welfare reforms is to ensure that people who can work get the support they need to find a job. This simple step will give people access to employment support months sooner than under the current system, so that the time spent waiting for a sickness assessment is not wasted.”

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) confirmed new ESA claimants will receive “immediate support to help them return to work”.

The Telegraph relies on figures from the DWP that suggest 300,000 of the 700,000 who apply for ESA each year drop out and stop claiming benefit before they have to undertake the work capability assessment (WCA). It acknowledges that thousands of disabled people have challenged the results of assessments, and that critics claim the WCA is about forcing people into work.

The full report can be found here.


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