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DR UK says all ESA claimants should be exempt from the benefit cap

11 August 2016

While some disabled people are exempt from the benefit cap – including those receiving DLA or PIP or the ESA support component – those in the ESA work related activity group are not.

There is a cap on the total amount working age claimants can receive from the main out-of-work benefits and children’s benefits. Some benefits are not included in the cap calculation. In some circumstances, claimants are exempt from the cap. -

It is applied by reducing entitlement to the level of a claimant’s housing benefit.

The ‘rationale’ for the benefit cap is to ‘make work pay’ by limiting the total amount most working age claimants can receive in benefits.

It is applied by reducing entitlement to the level of a claimant’s housing benefit.

New DWP quarterly statistics show, that over the three years since the benefit cap was introduced, only around 40% (23,100) are now exempt due to claiming working tax credit (being in low paid work).

However, the new figures also show that 15% of households subject to the benefit cap are in receipt of ESA in the work related activity group (3,150 households).

But is the level benefits paid to disabled people on ESA the barrier to them getting in to work?

In his 24 August 2015 speech on work, health and disability, then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith maintained that the gap between the employment rate of disabled and non-disabled people “isn’t because of a lack of aspiration on the part of those receiving benefits….in fact, the majority want to work or stay in work.”

Instead he said the gap exists because of two factors -

“First, some employers are reluctant to employ people with disabilities.

… Second, the poor quality of support they receive leads to many sick and disabled people languishing in a life without work, when work is actually possible for them.”

From autumn 2016 carers who are receiving Carer's Allowance quite rightly will be exempt from the benefit cap.

DR UK believe that an exemption should also be made to all those in receipt of ESA.

New research from Citizens Advice finds disabled people are three times less likely to move into employment.

Liz Sayce DR UK’s CEO said:

“People who are disabled or have a long term health condition face a range of obstacles as they try to get and keep a job

For people in the work related activity group who want to get back into work (and many would like to) it’s clear what is needed: much more flexible practices from employers (for instance, so people with fluctuating conditions could work when they can), with advice and support for employers to make that happen, and really personalised support for disabled people that is actually effective.

We need a strong strategy from government to help disabled people and employers make this happen – not capping benefits or reducing entitlement to disability benefit via PIP   that just drive disabled people into greater poverty.”

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