Incapacity Benefit – now Employment and Support Allowance

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Phased out as part of the government’s changes to the welfare system, Incapacity Benefit has now been replaced with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

These changes were reportedly made in order to clampdown on the number of people committing benefit fraud – some critics have voiced concerns that the move was a cynical vote-winning ploy that has negatively affected some of society’s most vulnerable members.

Incapacity Benefit was arguably the most criticised benefit paid administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), thanks largely to the attention paid to it by aspects of the right wing media. The Daily Mail were particularly vocal in their opposition, and published statistics that claimed that around of a third of all Incapacity Benefits claimants chose to stop claiming rather than attend a reassessment between 2010 and 2013 – many question the validity of these numbers.

Those were previously claiming Incapacity Benefit should have been contacted by the DWP and asked to fill out and return a questionnaire to determine a claimant’s eligibility. Those that passed this test were then normally asked to attend a reassessment program to judge the capacity to work – and those that were deemed employable were moved on to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

Initially founded in 1995 (replacing Invalidity Benefit and Sickness Benefit), Incapacity Benefit was finally cancelled in spring 2014, with previous recipients now transferred to Employment and Support Allowance, to another welfare payment or removed from the benefit system altogether.