Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit aimed at providing financial support for those who are unemployed and unfit or unable to work. The scheme was brought in for those who would otherwise be eligible for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) but are not in a state where they would currently be capable (either physically or mentally) of being an employee.
ESA is a government-funded scheme, so before an ESA claim begins the claimant must attend a Work Capability Assessment, at this point the extent to which the disability or illness affects the ability to work is judged. From that point, those who are deemed eligible for ESA must attend regular work-related support interviews – or for those who are severely limited in the ability to work, infrequent support group meetings must be joined.
A typical ESA claim pays £56.80 per week for those under 25, rising to £71.70 per week for those 25 and older. After the initial 13 week assessment period, this may increase up to £106.50 per week, depending on the scale of the illness or disability, with the personal circumstances of the claimant being taken into account when judging these changes. Of all the current benefits now being offered by the Government, it is perhaps ESA that is being the most clamped down upon. With certain aspects of the media keen to play up a negative image of those unable to work, there are many ESA claimants who have been judged to be fit to find a job when they feel they are in no fit state to do so.