Benefits boost for people with severe illness
Tens of thousands of people with severe illnesses or disabilities will no longer face reassessments to claim the main benefit for long-term sickness.
People with “a severe, lifelong disability, illness or health condition”, and those who are unlikely to move into work again, will be exempt from reassess- ments for employment and support allowance (ESA).
Campaigners called the move “a big step in the right direction” and “a long-awaited step towards making the welfare system make sense”.
However, shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams said: “This is an outrageous broken promise.
“Sick and disabled people have been waiting for the UK Government to announce specific conditions that would be exempt from punitive reassessments, finally providing the certainty many have been waiting for. Instead, they have been offered a vague statement with no specific guarantees at all.”
Applicants for ESA have to undergo a work capability assessment to find out if they are eligible and they are retested to ensure their condition has not changed.
Some are retested every three months and others up to two years later.
Under the government’s change, those who are deemed unfit for work and with conditions that will not improve will no longer face retesting.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “This positive change ensures that the right protections are in place.
“People with severe health conditions or disabilities that are not going to improve will no longer need to attend routine assessments.”
Some 2.4million people claim ESA across the UK, which pays claimants on average £118 a week.
Phil Reynolds, senior policy and campaigns adviser at Parkinson’s UK, said: “These new criteria are a big step in the right direction but it is still not clear how many people with Parkinson’s this will now benefit.