Changes to Employment and Support Allowance must be for the better

25 August 2015

Andy Coleby Andy Cole

Yesterday the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, announced changes to the Employment and Support Allowance, including reforms of the fit-for-work test (Work Capability Assessment) with the aim of helping more people keep in contact with the world of work.

Any measures that support disabled people into work are welcome. The government’s pledge to halve the disability employment gap over this parliament will mean more than a million disabled people will be better off.

It is vital that any changes actively help those who are able to work find meaningful employment, but also ensure that those who are not, are given the time they need to recover without worrying about cuts to their financial support.

The fit-for-work test is not working for disabled people. Too often those who are too ill to work are wrongly being found fit to do so. And our own research found that as many as seven in 10 people going through the assessments said it had a negative impact on their health.

We would welcome working with the government to ensure that any new assessment provides a better experience for disabled people.

Andy Cole is campaigns director at Leonard Cheshire Disability.


I was told, on 3 occasions by different DWP staff, that it's their policy to put people on the contributions-related version of ESA even if they are completely unable to work and have never been able to pay National Insurance contributions, and should therefore be on the non-contributory version which will pay them more and entitle them to free prescriptions and dental treatment. It's up to the claimant to somehow discover that (s)he has been put on the wrong benefit and to appeal against it by completing a 42 page form. So next time you hear the phrase "benefit fraud" just consider that it may be the DWP which is fraudulently witholding from people a benefit they are entitled to, rather than the other way around.

I have just had a bill from the NHS for £18-80 and they added £94-00 as a fine for showing my sons Employment and support letter to the dentist and saying my son was entitled to free treatment. I have never had to pay before as I had an HS2 for him.
My Son has Classic Autism and Epilepsy. He des have a white card but I think that is for prescriptions. I have sent a letter of appeal to the NHS today.

This is totally rubbish and the title of this is misleading. IDS is out to ruin anyone who is disabled ...dont you see this? The Tories are just vilifying all the disabled and want to reduce our income not increase it.
The DWP staff treat us like idiots and provide a very bad experience for the disabled. Making us feel scared of what is coming next...and making us sicker than we already are.

Please stop being a mouth piece for the government and stand up for the is not what most disabled need is care and compassion from the DWP that is needed and you guys here should fight for that!!

Its not this governments goal to help disabled people into work, but into destitution and death, their targets are all based on paying out less money to the sick and disabled. They don't care, IDS and his right-wing buddies would be happy if we all dropped dead tomorrow, do the right thing and stop drawing money out of the tax payer.

The DWP have wrongly 'suspended' my income support for more than seven months now due to studying (I can no longer work a 'physical' job, and am currently studying for a degree so I can work part time - hours I can manage with my poor health - for myself). They continue to harrass me with more questions, sometimes the same questions, over and over. It is wearing me down. We have had to live off food coupons from charities. I've worked 16 years and in the past, my family's business has paid many thousands of pounds in taxes, also including from giving some 75+ local people work. So WHERE is the fairness for ME? I'm truly disgusted with this mean, out-of-touch government. Before, governments were too liberal with the benefits, now the pendulum has swung the other way and innocent, deserving people are suffering extreme hardship, some even dying.

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