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18 February 2010

Hands in chainsEmployment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants can now be ordered by private sector personal advisers to carry out activities in addition to attending Pathways to Work interviews.  If claimants fail to follow orders their benefits will be cut.

From 10 February a personal adviser can tell an ESA claimant who is not in the support group that only the activity which the adviser specifies will count as a work-related activity.  If the claimant fails to carry out the specified activity within the required time without good cause their benefit will be sanctioned.

The specified activity must be recorded in the claimant’s action plan  and it cannot be a medical or surgical intervention of any sort.  There is also a requirement that the specified activity must be reasonable having regard to the claimant’s circumstances.  

The new regulations do not give examples of the kinds of activity involved but it might, for example, be attendance at a course on CV writing or interview skills.

Any decision to sanction a claimant’s benefits must be made by a DWP decision maker, not the personal adviser, and carries the right of appeal.

More information can be found in our guide to Knowing your Rights at Pathways to Work Interviews on this page.

Details of the new regulations can be found here.