The DWP’s latest statistics for employment and support allowance (ESA) which cover the period from January 2013 up to the end of March 2013, show that the percentage of people being found unfit for work and the percentage being placed in the support group continue to rise, in spite of government claims to the contrary. The statistics also show that a shocking 27% are still waiting for a decision a year after their claim or reassessment began.{jcomments on}

One of the most striking things about these statistics is the huge increase in those who are awarded ESA against those found fit for work.

In 2008, 36% were awarded ESA, but by the end of 2011 this rose to 51% and at the end of March 2013, this figure has leapt to 61%.

Also worth noting is the increase in the percentage of those placed in the Support Group after assessment.

Initially the Government anticipated that only 12% of claimants would meet the eligibility criteria. On this basis, Atos set its targets and defined the performance criteria for its healthcare professionals.

The increasing numbers of those placed in this group is clear: In 2008 this equated to 12% of ESA claimants, which didn’t change dramatically until the period from January 2011, since when it has steadily increased.

The figures for the quarter to end March 2013 show that 39% of ESA claimants are in the support group.

This is likely to be due in part to those who have been on long term sickness benefits being transferred to ESA. As we mentioned above, this group of people often have enduring and complex health problems.

New claims January to March 2013

These outcomes exclude the effect of appeals.

Percentage differences are compared to the previous quarter’s statistics.

38% of claimants have had an outcome – i.e. a decision made following assessment

Of those:

61% were awarded ESA (up 4%) and

39% were deemed Fit for Work and not entitled to ESA (down 4%)

Of the 61% awarded ESA,:

23% were placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG) (down by 2%) and

39% placed into support group (an increase of 6%)

35% had their claim closed before having a face to face assessment.

The DWP carried out some research into the reasons for claims being closed and believes that most of these claimants were sick for shorter periods of time and became well again before the assessment process was completed, so went back into paid work or claimed another benefit more suitable to their situation.

27% of claimants were still undergoing assessment

Completed assessments April to June 2013
In contrast, the DWP has produced information about completed assessments (as opposed to new claims) carried out during the period April 2013 to June 2013:

59% were awarded ESA (up 5%) and of those

25% were placed in WRAG (up by 1%) and

35% were put in support group (an increase of 5%)

41% were assessed as fit for work (decrease of 5%)

37% of claimants who were found fit for work during the period January to March 2013 have appealed against the decision.

The figures on outcomes of those appeals are not yet available.

The latest figures available from the Courts & Tribunals Service show that, for the period July 2012 to September 2012, there was a decrease by 5% in successful appeals. The DWP advises caution in interpreting this information, as so many appeals at that time were still outstanding.

Further information is included in the report, where figures have been adjusted to take account of the appeals outcomes that are known for the period January to March 2013, but again caution is advised, as many more appeals have yet to be decided.

Repeat assessments
Of the total number of claims that went through a reassessment during the period April to June 2013, 22% were previously receiving Incapacity Benefit and had already been migrated onto ESA.

On reassessment in the April to June period, 84% were awarded ESA: 37% were placed in WRAG, 47% were placed in Support Group and the remaining 16% were found fit for work.

This contrasts with the previous quarter’s figures (January to March 2013) which show that 90% were awarded ESA, 32% being placed in WRAG and 57% in Support Group; 10% were found fit for work.

Overall, more claims decided on reassessment that were previous Incapacity Benefit claims, were successfully awarded ESA, than for new claims. The DWP believes this is likely to be due to more of those claimants having multiple, longer term and more complex health problems.


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