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Ronnie Shahmoon

DWP introduces new long-term ESA awards

Date

Today (29 September) the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced that some people with severe long-term conditions that won't improve, will no-longer face reassessments for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – but only if they meet certain criteria.

new protections

The new criteria, which were developed with input from a range of charities, including Parkinson's UK, mean that people who are assessed for ESA and are placed into the Support Group and its equivalent in Universal Credit can be given a long-term award without reassessments, if they feel a person has a severe condition that has no prospect of improvement.

The assessor that conducts a person's Work Capability Assessment can recommend that a person is offered a long-term award, but this won't automatically apply to everyone with Parkinson's and the final decision rests with the DWP.

People who are already in the Support Group with a condition like Parkinson's won’t receive a long-term award automatically, so it's vital that you attend your next assessment. 

step in the right direction

Parkinson's UK Senior Policy and Campaigns Adviser Phil Reynolds said:

"It's positive that the Government recognises that Parkinson's is a condition that only gets worse with time, and that people who already receive the highest rates of award deserve to be protected from the stress and uncertainty of repeated ESA reassessments.

"However, assessors' very mixed knowledge of Parkinson's may mean many people with the condition are placed in the 'back to work' group for ESA despite the fact that their condition will not improve, which is clearly ludicrous."

More to do

We are also concerned that a person with Parkinson's who is placed into the Support Group, but not given a long-term award won't be able to challenge this aspect of their decision at appeal. Instead, they would need to ask for another assessment and hope that they are then given a long-term award.

Parkinson's UK will continue to campaign for fair access to disability benefits for people with the condition. You can help our work by joining our campaigns network.

If you want to speak to someone about applying for ESA, please contact the Parkinson's UK helpline on 0808 800 0303.