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30 January 2008
Benefits and Work has published the first Introduction to Employment and Support Allowance, currently available only to organisational members.

Much of the detail of ESA has yet to appear in regulations, so it is far too early to attempt to publish detailed guidance for claimants. However, many organisations will need to start preparing for ESA long before it is introduced. It is not only advice agencies, but also organisations which support clients who are sick and disabled who will need to get ready for the new system.

For example, staff who deal with clients with a severe mental health condition may not have needed to know anything about incapacity for work in the past, because their clients were exempt from the personal capability assessment. This will not be the case under ESA. The DWP have made it clear that it is not intended that claimants with conditions such as schizophrenia, even where not effectively controlled by medication, will be able to avoid medical assessment or a series of six work-focused interviews.

The 32 page guide provides an overview of how the new system works and we'll be updating and extending it as more information becomes available. It covers the following areas:

Why is Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) being introduced?
Overview of ESA
Stages of an initial ESA claim
Basic qualifying conditions for ESA
Assessment phase ESA
Main phase ESA
Work Capability Assessment
Assessment: Support group
Exemptions: Support group
Assessment: work-related activity group
Exemptions & exceptional circumstances: work-related activity group
Work-focused health related assessment
Work-focused interviews
Appeal rights
Compulsory work-related activity
Current incapacity claimants
Glossary of acronyms

Professional members can download our Introduction to Employment and Support Allowance from the Professional members area.

Download a flyer for our ESA training day in Bristol on April 3rd.

© 2008 Steve Donnison