24 Mar 2015

Employment and Support Allowance

This is not about fraud (not ostensibly, anyway). The government claims to have done much on ESA, but there is still more to do.

More than 100,000 people are claiming around £100 a week in benefits after being assessed as unable to work due to addiction, obesity or stress.

They are claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA), which is awarded to those who have an illness or disability that affects their ability to work.

The benefit replaced incapacity benefit, income support and severe disablement allowance with an annual cost to the taxpayer of £725million.

Now 56,000 people with alcohol problems receive ESA, while 36,650 drug addicts are also claimants.

In addition 47,990 people with stress are also handed around £100 a week, with 1,780 obese people receiving the benefit.

Bournemouth has the biggest proportion of claimants of ESA for people with alcohol and drug addictions, with around one in 14 people in the Dorset town who are handed the benefit abusing alcohol, while one in 20 have drug addiction problems.

Other areas with a high percentage of claimants with drug and alcohol addictions include Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Bristol.

Meanwhile, the biggest proportion of claimants due to stress is South Hams in Devon, closely followed by Tamworth in Staffordshire and Richmond in North Yorkshire.

The highest percentage of ESA claimants due to obesity is Sevenoaks as well as Malling and Tonbrige, all in Kent.

According to the government 'you can apply for ESA if you're employed, self-employed, unemployed or a student on disability living allowance'.

The initial assessment phase lasts for 13 weeks, during which your income and capital are analysed.

Last year, the government claimed more than 100 people stopped claiming sickness benefits every day over 2013.

Since May 2010, when the Coalition took over, there has been a fall of 160,000 people claiming sickness payments.

Ministers claim the success is down to the Government's controversial new assessment regime pioneered by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

This is due to applicants' physical and mental conditions assessed to show how it would affect their ability to work is also assessed.

Sometimes applicants are asked to undergo a medical examination and are asked about how their condition affects their ability to carry out every day tasks, whether they vary from one day to another and what their normal day is like.

Last year the private French firm that decided whether benefits claimants were fit for work pulled out of its £500million contract after claiming its staff received death threats.

Atos Healthcare, which has been accused of making unfair decisions on when sick and disabled people lose benefits, was ordered to review its tests last summer after a Government report found its assessors were of unacceptably poor quality.

But the IT company claimed it was pulling out as its staff were increasingly coming under attack while carrying out their work.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In defence of Bournemouth, many addicts aren't actually locals, they are sent there from London (and elsewhere) for rehab as it's cheaper.