Figures released by the DWP last month show that almost six out of ten new employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants were placed in the support group.
Statistics for the quarter to June 2019 show that, for new claimants:
58% were placed in the support group, up 5% on the previous quarter.
17% were placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG), down 4% on the previous quarter.
26% were found fit for work, unchanged from the previous quarter.
However, the vast majority of ESA assessments are now repeat assessments rather than new claims.
In the most recent quarter, 85% were repeat ESA assessments, 15% were new ESA claims and less than 1% were incapacity benefit reassessments.
For repeat ESA assessments:
80% were placed in the support group
13% were place in the WRAG
6% were found fit for work.
The number of mandatory reconsiderations in relation to ESA has plummeted in recent years. It was at its highest in March 2017, with 22,000 requests. In October 2019 it had fallen to just 3,500.
The number of ESA appeals has fallen even more massively since the introduction of mandatory reconsiderations in 2013.
In the quarter to September 2018 there were just 600 appeals heard in relation to fit for work decisions, compared to almost 15,000 prior to the introduction of mandatory reconsiderations.