All employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants will be hit by a planned freeze on working age benefits if the Conservatives win power in 2015, not just those in the work-related activity group. {jcomments on}

As we reported last month, George Osborne told the party conference that he planned to freeze most working age benefits, including:

  • The work-related activity component of employment and support allowance
  • Jobseeker’s allowance
  • Local housing allowance
  • Universal credit
  • Tax credits
  • Child benefit
  • Income support

Osborne assured the conference that disability benefits, including personal independence payment and disability living allowance will not be affected,

However, several commentators have pointed out that, in reality, claimants in the support group of ESA will also be hit by the freeze.

Writing on her ‘Rolling with the punches’ blog, Spoonydoc pointed out that

“Put simply, only the "Support Group component" part of the benefit will be exempt, rather than the entire ESA benefit. The "main element", which forms the bulk of the payment (roughly 2/3 of it) will be hit and frozen.

“This means that sick and disabled people in the Support Group will see their ESA limited to a tiny growth: one third of inflation.

”Overall, roughly 2.5 million sick and disabled people will be directly hit by this policy.”

The fact that the basic allowance element of ESA will be frozen was confirmed by John Pring, at the Disability News Service:

“But DNS has confirmed with special advisers to both George Osborne and work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith that disabled people in the ESA support group – those with the highest support needs – will be hit by the freeze.

“This is because the main ESA component – currently up to £72.40 a week for those over 25 – will be frozen for two years from April 2016, even though the support group top-up of £35.75 will continue to rise at the rate of inflation.”

The freeze will only take place if the Conservatives win power at the 2015 general election, something which many claimants will be fervently praying does not happen.


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