7 January 2010

Calendar with October 2010 highlightedThe government have finally given a firm date for beginning the migration of incapacity benefit claimants onto employment and support allowance.

When ESA was initially introduced the government announced that they would begin transferring existing incapacity benefit claimants in 2009, with the last claimants being moved by 2013.

However, 2009 has passed without a single transfer.  Instead, in a report entitled ‘Building Britain’s Recovery:  Achieving Full Employment’ released last month, Yvette Cooper announced that:

“We want almost everyone to be on a journey back to work – either looking for work or taking steps to prepare to return to work in the future.
“We will continue to increase support to tackle worklessness, with extra help matched by extra obligations to take up the help that is on offer. This includes:

“Continuing the roll out of the WCA for those where health or disability is a challenge.

“From October 2010, beginning a reassessment of all customers receiving Incapacity Benefit or Income Support on the grounds of disability for ESA.”

So, it will not now be until almost the end of 2010 that the first incapacity benefit claimants will be assessed using the much harsher work capability assessment rather than the personal capability assessment.

No indication was given in the report of how long it will take to assess all incapacity benefit claimants using the new test.  The original timetable ran from 2009 to 2013, suggesting that the DWP expected the process to take four years.  However, ESA is clearly proving much more time consuming to administer than was originally anticipated.  Without investing in more medical staff, it is hard to see how a four year timetable can now be considered realistic.

It may well be that some incapacity benefit claimants will still be with us until well after 2015.

You can download a copy of ‘Building Britain’s Recovery:  Achieving Full Employment’ from this link


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