28 February 2011

The pilots are over. Today the DWP is sending out the first 1,000 letters to current incapacity benefit (IB) claimants, informing them that they are about to be reassessed to see if they are eligible for employment and support allowance (ESA).

The letters will be followed up by telephone calls to each affected claimant, to confirm the contents of the letter and to check if you need any additional support with the process.

A small proportion of claimants will have a decision made to award them ESA just on the basis of information the DWP already holds on them.  But the next thing that most people will receive will be an ESA questionnaire to complete and return.

The DWP has stated that it will begin sending out ESA50 forms relating to the new, harsher work capability assessment (WCA) on 14th March.  

It is not yet clear whether the claimants who receive their letters this week will be sent the new or the current questionnaire.  Claimants who receive the current questionnaire will be assessed using the current WCA rather than the new one, which comes into force on 28 March.

Provisional figures from the Aberdeen and Burnley pilot, using the current WCA, showed that:

30% of IB claimants were found fit for work.
31% were placed in the support group.
39% were placed in the work-related activity group.

Benefits and Work would be very pleased to hear from anyone who can send us a scanned copy of the letter from the DWP – a year’s free subscription to the first person to contact us to say they can do so.


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