Reforms to ESA assessment

People with serious health conditions who claim sick benefits will no longer be required to prove they are still ill every six months.

Department for Work and Pensions secretary Damian Green has announced that those with severe, lifelong conditions will not have to go through reassessments to keep their payments.

Employment support allowance (ESA) will now continue automatically for those who have a lifelong illness or severe health condition with no prospect of improvement.

The testing process, which includes reassessing the conditions every six months, has come under intense criticism for failing some of the most seriously ill and disabled.

Mr Green said: “If someone has a disease which can only get worse then it doesn’t make sense to ask them to turn up for repeated appointments. If their condition is not going to improve, it is not right to ask them to be tested time after time. So we will stop it.”

The criteria is yet to be drawn up with health professionals but people with congenital heart conditions, as well as those with autism and illnesses such as severe Huntington’s are likely to qualify for continuous payments without reassessment.

The reforms, which Mr Green said will help end the anxiety and financial insecurity that claimants may have felt, has been welcomed by many, with PH patient Catherine Makin describing the announcement on the PHA UK Facebook page as a ‘relief’.

However, PH patient Barbara Cherry, also commenting on the post, said: “The other side of the argument could be that those who are playing the system, and they do, will find it easier to do it long term. They will have to put something in place to prevent this.”

The reform will be unveiled at the four-day Conservative party conference, which begins in Birmingham on Sunday 9th October.

Last medically reviewed: October, 2016 • October, 2019