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Employment and Support Allowance

Volume 505: debated on Wednesday 10 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what training (a) Jobcentre Plus staff and (b) medical staff in her Department have received in relation to the administration of special rules for employment and support allowance for people with cancer. (314731)

[holding answer 1 February 2010]: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Darra Singh:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what training (a) Jobcentre Plus staff and (b) medical staff in her Department have received in relation to the administration of special rules for Employment and Support Allowance for people with cancer. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

As part of the training for administering Employment and Support Allowance, Jobcentre Plus staff access three specific training events delivered in a classroom environment amounting to six hours of learning. The events provide an overview of ‘Support Group’ customers whose health conditions, including those with cancer, mean it is unreasonable to require them to engage in work related activities, and customers who satisfy ‘Special Rules’ conditions whereby they are not expected to live for more than six months. The training provides staff with an understanding of the Work Capability Assessment process and how customers falling into these categories are identified. The training also provides trainees with an understanding of the actions they are expected to take, and how the rules and conditionality affect customers with cancer.

Additionally, all healthcare professionals working for Atos Healthcare who carry out special rules checks for Employment and Support Allowance receive training in both the medical and administrative aspects of the referrals. Administrative components of the training include the use of relevant computer systems, dealing promptly with the referrals and obtaining further medical evidence if required, usually by telephoning clinicians involved in the customer’s medical treatment. The medical aspects of the training cover areas such as the application of the healthcare professional’s medical knowledge in relation to the relevant benefit entitlement criteria.

I hope this information is helpful.