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Employment and Support Allowance

Volume 495: debated on Monday 6 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what assistance for returning to work will be given to existing incapacity benefit claimants who are not in the invest to save pathfinder areas once they have transferred on to the employment and support allowance; (255116)

(2) whether the back-to-work regime for existing incapacity benefit claimants who have transferred on to the employment and support allowance (ESA) will be the same as for new ESA claimants.

The Pathways to Work programme was first introduced in pilot areas in October 2003. It has always been available to existing incapacity benefits claimants on a voluntary basis, as has our suite of specialist disability employment provision. In April 2008 Pathways to Work completed its national roll-out and is now accessible by everybody receiving incapacity benefits and Employment and Support Allowance in Great Britain.

Conditionality regimes for existing incapacity benefits and Employment and Support Allowance claimants are set out in the White Paper 'Raising expectations and increasing support: reforming welfare for the future' (Cm 7506).

Upon transfer to Employment and Support Allowance, existing incapacity benefits claimants not in the "invest to save" pathfinder areas will receive:

(i) three mandatory Work Focused Interviews and access to other elements of the Pathways to Work programme, for claimants aged under 50;

(ii) one mandatory Work Focused Interview and access to other elements of Pathways to Work for claimants aged 50 and above; and

(iii) pilots trialing new forms of support for claimants aged 50 and above.

In addition to the above, claimants will continue to have access to the Jobcentre Plus Disability Employment Adviser who can offer advice on the range of specialist disability provision for those with complex disability related barriers to work. A new specialist disability programme will be introduced in October 2010 to replace some of the existing provision.

Nationally, new Employment and Support Allowance claimants will continue to have access to back to work support through Pathways to Work. From late 2010 we will extend to two years the period during which new claimants are required to engage with us through work-focused interviews. In addition Employment and Support Allowance claimants in progression to work pathfinder areas, or personalised employment programme pilots, will be required to undertake work related activity in certain circumstances from 2010.

Claimants placed in the Support Group will not be required to undertake any mandatory activities, although they will be able to volunteer for back-to-work support.

Once disabled people have secured a job or have a firm job offer they may also be eligible for the Access to Work programme which can assist with the costs of support to help them overcome work related obstacles resulting from disability.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if her Department will add those in receipt of high care component of Disability Living Allowance to the list of those considered as having limited capability for work for employment and support allowance. (282897)

Receipt of Disability Living Allowance at any level does not automatically mean that a person will be considered as having limited capability for work for the purposes of Employment and Support Allowance. Entitlement criteria for Employment and Support Allowance are based on functional ability, not on the benefits an individual receives or their diagnosis. Entitlement to Disability Living Allowance depends on a person's care and mobility needs, not their capability for work. Each person is assessed on an individual basis to determine whether their level of functional ability is such that it is unreasonable to require them to work.