The DWP has finally published a research report into why people end ESA claims before they are assessed. The report finds that the main reason for abandoning a claim is not because, as the tabloids and some politicians have suggested, they are afraid of being ‘​caught out’​ by a medical assessment. It is simply because they had short-term illnesses from which they recovered.

The report, released this week, looked at 60 people whose claim to ESA had ended but who had not moved into work. Some people had ended the claim themselves, some had their claim ended by jobcentre plus and some had been found capable of work.

The report found that most people who had ended their claim did so because their health condition had improved. These were primarily conditions such as diabetes, stress, depression and conditions alleviated by a routine operation.

Some had contacted Jobcentre Plus to withdraw their claim, whilst others had simply stopped sending in sick notes or failed to return their ESA50, knowing that this would bring their claim to an end. Most were now looking for work.

A smaller number had their claim closed by jobcentre plus because they had been unable to meet the requirements of claiming ESA, such as completing the ESA50 questionnaire or attending a medical. Often it was their health condition that prevented them doing so, although in some cases the report found that it was ‘​life events’​ such as bereavement.

Of those who were found fit for work, many did not appeal even though they disagreed with the decision, because they felt it was ‘​pointles​s’​, because they felt powerless or because their health did not permit it.

Small scale though it is, what this report makes clear is that, far from being evidence that claimants are scroungers and workshy as the tabloids claim, the high ESA dropout rate is evidence of the honesty of claimants who end their claims as soon as they become well.

It seems unlikely, however, that this will make the headlines in the increasingly disablist and hate-fuelled tabloids.

You can download the full report here.


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