Employment and Support Allowance: the case for change
Think tank Reform writes on the case for structural reform of Employment Support Allowance (ESA). The report sets out to analyse ESA claimant data, and argues that it presents a strong case for further benefit reform.
One the biggest concerns of ESA has been on improving outcomes for disabled people which remains as one of the UK’s key unmet policy challenges and Reform highlights how economic growth and the success of governments have helped to reduce benefit caseloads, bringing unemployment claims down since the early 1990s. However, considering out-of-work incapacity-related benefit caseload peaked in the early 2000s with little change since then, around 2.4 million people remain as claimants: fully triple the number claiming at the end of the 1970s.
All the same, the current government asserts that unconditional support is the most important factor for those who are deemed, due to incapacity, unable to work or carry out any work-related activity is a key principle of the welfare state.
Looking at claimants for ESA who must be placed in either the: work related activity group, where you are expected to take part in work focused interviews and prepare for suitable work; or the support group, if as a result of your illness or disability, you are both unable to work and are not expected to take part in any work –Reform suggest that the system is in fact doing more harm than good.
Nonetheless, the Government has made a commitment to halve the disability employment gap as the Conservative Party manifesto stated: “we will transform policy, practice and public attitudes, so that hundreds of thousands more disabled people who can and want to be in work find employment.”
Click here for the full report