ESA was first introduced in October 2008 to provide financial help for people with limited capacity to work due to disability or illness. The benefit is split into two parts – £74.70 a week basic allowance plus an additional £39.40 a week for the support component and is overseen and assessed by the DWP. But it’s thought thousands of people are missing out.
Every year nearly £16 billion goes unclaimed in benefits and at least seven million British people are missing out on money that they are entitled to.
Whether this is due to lack of awareness or because people worry there’s a stigma attached to being on benefits it is unclear.
One of the benefits they are missing out on is ESA which has been brought in by the DWP to support those who can’t work, or who have a limited capacity for work.
However, if someone is assessed as having an illness or condition that stops them from working, they could get both parts of the allowance, resulting in an extra £456.40 a month.
Meanwhile, the DWP has announced a big shake up to benefits assessments and has launched its Shaping Future Support: The Health and Disability Green Paper.
The paper forms part of a 12-week consultation regarding the proposals, which is set to come to a conclusion on October 11, 2021.
It’s a chance for Universal Credit, PIP and ESA claimants to have their say about the claims and assessment process.
The big changes announced so far include news that face-to-face PIP assessments will now be audio recorded as well as phone assessments of PIP, ESA and Universal Credit claimants.
What’s more, video assessments will increase in a bid to make life easier for people making a claim who have a disability and find it difficult to get to their local benefits office.
And the DWP is hoping to significantly reduce the number of appeals against the department as well as the number of repeat assessments.
To speed up the process for benefit claimants who receive more than one award, the DWP is planning to allow an individual’s medical evidence to be shared across all benefit applications.
This should mean claimants would not need to provide any information more than once.
A DWP spokesperson said it would be encouraging holistic decision making in the future and giving staff extra time, if needed, to make a decision.
“This extra time has often allowed more evidence to be provided to support the decision-making process.
“It has also allowed more time for our staff to listen to people claiming benefits and to help people understand the reasons why a decision has been made.
“This is better for disabled people and people with health conditions, who often find the appeal process difficult and stressful. It is also more affordable for the Department because it means less money is spent on appeals.”