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Incapacity claimants ESA transfer date in doubt again

6 October 2006
New official guidance published by the DWP has once again thrown into confusion the issue of when current incapacity benefit claimants will be transferred onto Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Confused people holding up question marks

Recent announcements by the DWP have all suggested that current incapacity claimants under 25 will be transferred onto ESA in 2009. Other claimants were set to follow between 2010 and 2013.

However, new chapters on ESA that have been added to Decision Maker’s Guide, the resource used by all DWP decision makers, available online at:

www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/dwp/dmg/index.asp

contradict these announcements.

Volume 8, chapter 45, paras 45301 –45302 of the guide explain that:

“However, migration will not take place before the year 2012.

Full guidance on migration will be given

1. nearer the time it commences and
2. in advance of it commencing.”

It would appear that, despite claims to the contrary, the government still really haven’t made up their mind what to do with current claimants and are quite possibly adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach.

There may, after all, be little point in forcing hundreds of thousand of current incapacity claimants onto JSA and the work related activity component of ESA if it transpires that there are no jobs available because of prevailing economic conditions.

Current claimants, many of whom will have a very long history of not being in work and who will be amongst the most sick and disabled, will be the hardest to place in employment. To move them en masse into Pathways might lead to an unacceptably high failure rate for Pathways to Work and the disappearance of many of those private and voluntary sector providers dependent for their income on moving people into full-time jobs.

We’ll keep members updated as the picture becomes clearer – if indeed it ever does.