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May 13

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UK – Changes to contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance

Published: Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The government has limited the period for which contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) can be paid in some circumstances. These changes came into effect on 1 May 2012. Claimants who have already received 365 days of contribution-based ESA saw their entitlement end on 30 April 2012.

What are the changes? The changes will:

  • Limit the amount of time people in the Work-Related Activity Group (ie those not in the Support Group) can receive contribution-based Employment Support Allowance to 365 days, and
  • Remove the special contribution condition and prevent any new claims for ESA on grounds of youth.

The 104 week linking rule has now been abolished by separate regulations. The linking rules will still be applied to claims made up to and including 30 April 2012.

How the changes will affect you

People not in the Support Group will still receive contribution-based Employment Support Allowance for 365 days. People whose contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance ends may still be able to get income-related Employment and Support Allowance if they are entitled.

People not in the Support Group who have already received contribution-based Employment Support Allowance for 365 days or more will have their benefit stopped immediately. For these people the last day benefit will have been paid is 30 April 2012. They will be contacted with more information about what will happen to their claim.

The special contribution conditions that allow people aged between 16 and 20 (or under 25 if in education or training at least 3 months immediately before turning 20) to receive contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance without paying National Insurance contributions is no longer available for new claimants. This means that all new claims for contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance will need to satisfy the usual contribution conditions.

Find out about Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

What do I need to do?

If you are receiving contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance and your benefit is time-limited you may be able to get income-related Employment Support Allowance. This will depend on your income and savings. The DWP will tell you how to be assessed for this when it contacts you to tell you that your benefit is ending. If you qualify for this it will be paid as soon as your contribution-based benefit ends.

Depending on your circumstances you may be entitled to other benefits. For benefit advice, please follow the link below to use the online benefits adviser service.
Benefits adviser service

If you cannot get income-related Employment and Support Allowance you will still be credited with National Insurance credits as long as your circumstances do not change.

You may also be able to claim contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance again in the future. This will depend on your National Insurance record when you make a claim, or if you move into the Support Group.

How is the time limit counted?

The 365-day time limit starts from the first day you received contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, excluding any time in the Support Group, or time in the assessment phase if you moved straight into the Support Group.

If you have been reassessed from Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance to contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, the time limit will start from the effective date of the conversion decision.

People already entitled to Employment and Support Allowance on grounds of youth and in the Support Group will continue to receive contribution-based Employment Support Allowance unless their circumstances change. People already entitled to Employment and Support Allowance on grounds of youth and in the Work Related Activity Group will have their benefit time limited to 365 days.

Find out about the Support Group and Work Related Activity Group

Changes to the linking rule

Previously, where a claimant left ESA and started work or training within one month, their benefit would be reinstated at the same rate as previously paid if they returned to Employment and Support Allowance within 104 weeks.

To coincide with the changes brought by time-limiting contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, the 104 week linking rule is abolished.  This means if you want to claim Employment and Support Allowance and it is more than 12 weeks since your award of Employment and Support Allowance ended, your claim will not link to your earlier award.

Claimants living abroad

If you live abroad you are not entitled to income-related Employment and Support Allowance when your contribution-based Employment Support Allowance ends. You are also not entitled to receive National Insurance credits.

Your entitlement to other social security benefits in the country you are living in may also change when your contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance ends.

Links

Welfare Reform Act 2012

Welfare Reform Act 2007

Permanent link to this article: http://operationfatherhood.org/dwp-department-for-work-and-pensions/esa-employment-and-support-allowance/uk-changes-to-contribution-based-employment-and-support-allowance/