Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is provided to those who are ill or disabled and therefore unable to work a full time job and are struggling to get by financially. The maximum claim for ESA is £186.90 a week but the amount you get depends on your individual condition and circumstances. You can apply regardless of whether you’ve been working or are unemployed.
The Government believe the £30 a week cut will ‘incentivise’ people to find job and try to contain the political crisis that erupted after the budget. Around half a million people will be affected by these major reductions which have been approved by parliament. The argument against this is that forcing people to work when they physically cannot isn’t going to cure their illness in fact it will have the opposite affect and probably end up costing the NHS even more money long term.
Currently those who are deemed too unwell to work by the Governments’ work capability assessment are being split into 2 groups:
- people who are permanently unable to work are put into the “support" group and are paid £109 a week.
- people who are too ill/disabled to work immediately (but capable in the future), are put in the “work related activity” group and were paid £102 a week.
It is new applicants that get categorised into the second group who will be affected by the changes to this policy and will see their income cut from £102 a week to only £73. These reductions were included in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill which was passed in March 2016. As of April, 1st 2017 these people will receive the same amount of money as Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) claimants. This change is predicted to bring in £1.4 billion savings by 2020.
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