New rule will leave ESA appellants without ANY income indefinitely


November 8, 2013 by sharonbrennan

I’ve been away for a long time – basically being very ill. I’ll update you all on my personal travails another time but my first post in over a year will be dedicated to the extraordinary logical brain of Ian Duncan Smith.

He has been lambasted today for the horrendous mess that is Universal Credit – which is over budget, under target, poorly managed, and with no solution in sight on how to get it back on track. But while this central plank of IDS’s welfare reform receives all the attention, other smaller, but arguably more costly changes are being introduced with little attention.

On October 28th his department of Work and Pensions introduced a change to the appeal process for Employment and Support allowance, the main disability benefit for those too ill to work. As of last month a claimant who wishes to appeal against a decision that they are not entitled to ESA must first ask the DWP to reconsider the decision before he or she can lodge an official appeal. 

However the DWP has decided during this new ‘mandatory reconsideration’ stage the claimant will no longer receive ESA income and neither will a time limit be given as to how long this process will take. The reality is that this will leave people without any income whatsoever for an indefinite period of time – its a truly shocking decision given that nearly 40% of appeals are found in the claimant’s favour. It is unsurprising that this rule is already the subject of a parliamentary early day motion.

The Government argues that the claimant can claim Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) during this appeal stage but in reality this will be at the discretion of the jobcentre. Today’s statistics of sanctions against JSA claimants show that every month 12% of job seekers are referred for sanction. The New Policy Institute clarifies that these sanctions are given if there is a ‘labour market doubt’, or in their words, “Job Centre Plus may have felt they were not making themselves available for work“. It is clear that disabled people will be an easy target for sanctions if they struggle to job hunt while coping with bad health problems. Labour MP, Sheila Gilmore, even documents a case in which her constituent Rose Burgess was told by the DWP she was too well to claim ESA, but told by the Job Centre she was too ill to claim JSA.

This new rule will push disabled people into poverty or into even worse ill health. It won’t even save any money as basic rate ESA, currently payable at this assessment rate during an appeal process, is £71.70 and JSA is paid at £71.70. In addition, the concern is that mandatory reconsideration has created a Catch 22 situation – by applying for JSA the fear is that it will be taken as evidence in any ESA appeal that the individual has admitted a capacity to work.

So there we are – IDS’s amazing logic shines again – a new rule that saves no money, unless, of course, the idea is to force people off benefit entirely. Instead it just heaps more misery, poverty and persecution on disabled people – anyone would think that’s his aim…

14 thoughts on “New rule will leave ESA appellants without ANY income indefinitely

  1. Unknown says:

    You can only assume that the government has a task force which is actively seeking new ways to be evil. Its the only explanation.

  2. Anonymous says:

    basically blackmail either find work that ATOS liars deem you fit for or starve . I thought the jobcentre would not take you on their books unless your fit to work ?no jobs out there for 100% able'd let alone for those 40-50 % able'd. why do they think that we prefer to struggle on £71 a week as oppose to going out & earning a Living if we could? I know given half a chance I would rather work .in fact my health issues are caused because of an accident I had Working in a Nursing home

  3. Anonymous says:

    I suspect the answer lies with the disgraced American insurance company Unum, who are no doubt salivating at the thought of the multibillion pound market that will open when IDS has wrecked the benefits system. They've been acting as advisors on welfare reform since the mid-90s. I imagine IDS can probably look forward to several million pound's worth of gratitude from Unum once he's made our social security system worthless. Explains everything, doesn't it?

  4. I was told by jobcentre adviser I was to ill to carry on claiming (actual words were 'Are you Ok you look like you're dying) so went on ESA and had the dreaded atos experience got 0 points and when I complained I ended up with a letter off Hoban or what ever his name is confirming the atos person lied!! Result now being as the initial examination was flawed I now have to go for another one with…… guessed ATOS!!!!

  5. The thing that really saddens and scares me is that it seems no matter what is done or what laws are twisted and changed Although people are up in arms be it MPs, Local Councillors,Newspapers, NOTHING IS EVER DONE they all say EEH it is shocking but nothing happens ……God help us all !

  6. Anonymous says:

    legalized bullying that's all I can say. i'm nearly 61 and have been put on a 'works programme'!!……….if this government hadn't put up the pension age, I would have been on my pension by now. why waste thousands on these useless projects. I suffer with depression and anxiety, and its getting worse with all this. but they don't care, more money for the rich, nothing for us poor. god help us if they get voted in again. they just want people to work until they drop so they wont have to pay out any pensions.

  7. mrswupple says:

    my retirement age has also gone up. My disabilities also got worse with age. We're just being tortured.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I forgot to mention….. If I win I get 5K in back pay! July 2012 I claimed and I'm signed off till Dec. The man needs to wake up and look at what he's done but they seem proud of it and that's what makes me sick.

  9. Nick says:

    it will more then likely push the sick to a early death as we have seen over the past 3 years
    if this government isn't stopped they will go on to kill all the sick and disabled who for whatever reason cant fight back especially those that live on their own

  10. Anonymous says:

    The government knows EXACTLY what suffering they are causing vulnerable sick people. The PIP assessment is purposely set up to ensure you fail. I felt unable to undergo life saving chemotherapy and herceptin treatment because if I did I would starve to death whilst doing so! Just telephoning for the application form was extremely stressful and also set up to trick you into failing. I guess the wage rise and expenses these heartless vultures are receiving makes them feel Blessed whilst thousands of us are suffering and dying at their hands. Disgusting human beings who have no ethics or humanity. Why are they ignoring us?

  11. Chris Hodges says:

    They are just all arseholes the lot of them! That's all I can say and I know it's not nice but I do hope one day they get really ill and have to claim and get same treatment as what we do!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Was too ill to sign on JSA, was told come in within 5 working days: went in 3 days after the sign-on date I had not attended. Wrote in form JSA 28 that I had been ill 3 to 20 August. Was told that from now on I got to make ESA claim because I was ill longer than 2 weeks.Claimed by phone 21 August.Was refused 15 September,that my JSA taxable income years 2012,2013 means I have an income! Sent mandatory reconsideration. They pretend it was not received. Asked for STBA,they got to wait if my HRT gets approved. No crisis loans (abolished 2013) Local “support fund” for living expenses is for floods and fires, not for unpaid benefit applicants. “Support fund” is a private company outsourced.Will I get my arrears if my HRT gets rejected and got to appeal?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Previous query follow-up: is this a rip-off not to pay 71 per week for the 6+ weeks up to now, or, once in the appeal stage can I go back to JSA and collect these arrears. Any other experiencers of rip-off can advise me? Lets not forget elections are 2015 and the season now is for ” swift justice “

  14. Anonymous says:

    My husband, after getting no points in the farce of an assessment was told to go for JSA. There he was told that because he had only had his stamp credited for 12 years of Invalidity Benefit, he did not qualify for JSA, only for pension which is not due for another 3 years. He can't work because of his condition anyway so that was wrong advice to ask for JSA. The Mandatory Reassessment on the phone gave him 6 points because someone was listening properly, but this still doesn't give you ESA, so we now wait for a tribunal before a judge – how awful is that! Making people feel like criminals just to get money to live on!

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