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6 October 2008
The true extent of the DWP’s unpreparedness for the introduction of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) has been revealed by a Benefits and Work Freedom of Information application.

Confused decision makerNo decision makers will have been trained in ESA when the new benefit is introduced on 27 October, Benefits and Work can exclusively reveal.

The shock discovery came when Benefits and Work made a Freedom of Information application for all training and guidance materials issued to DWP staff in relation to ESA.

We were informed by the DWP that the Decision Makers Guide, available from the DWP website, would be updated to include ESA from 6 October 2008. However, the same is not true of training materials and guidance for staff actually administering ESA. Instead, the DWP informed us:

“The training product is not yet finished as comments are still being made through a Model Office environment, and changes applied. The training material and guidance will both be available at the same time, which is the end of October.”

So, when ESA comes in, no decision makers or administrative staff will have been trained and the admin staff who will actually deal with the paperwork will not have seen the process they are supposed to work to.

Claimants and advisors should be prepared for a frustrating few months as DWP staff attempt to learn on the job.