Benefits and Work has received information from a DWP insider claiming that people who are due to have their employment and support allowance (ESA) award reassessed in the coming months will now have that assessment deferred for a full two years.
On Monday we broke the news that current employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants will be left on the benefit, without further medical checks, until another company can be found to carry out repeat work capability assessments (WCAs). The DWP stopped referring claimants to Atos for repeat medicals with effect from 20 January 2014.
The change does not apply to IB to ESA transfers or to people who report a change of circumstances, such as a worsening of their condition. It will also not apply to anyone who has already been referred to Atos or to those who have made a new claim for ESA, as those assessments will still take place.
Benefits and Work has now received further information from a mole within the DWP on how deferment works. Whilst we cannot verify the identity of the individual, they clearly had access to the DWP memo which Benefits and Work obtained, as they were aware of details which we did not publish.
One unpublished section of the memo states that:
“Scans will be run from 18 January to identify and defer Employment and Support Allowance repeat referrals. The impact of this should be seen from 20 January.
“The scans will be managed centrally and will result in a reduction in the number of Work Available Reports.”
The DWP mole informs us that the scan has caused reassessments due in late January through February to be moved on by two years. The same scan is due to be run each month throughout the year. Each time, all those due to be reassessed will be given a two year deferral. So someone due to be sent back to Atos on 1 February 2014, for example, will not now be re-examined until 1 February 2016.
The revelation is clear evidence of just how long the DWP really expects it to take to clear the massive backlog of WCAs built up under Atos.
It is also evidence of the extreme heartlessness of the DWP. The memo in question makes it clear that claimants should not be told about the deferral of their reassessment. Instead, the intention is to leave people for years dreading that brown envelope dropping through their letterbox and constantly wondering why it hasn't arrived yet.