From Citizen’s Advice Bureau:
Some claimants of contributions-based Employment Support Allowance (ESA) are being advised that their entitlement to the benefit is due to come to an end. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) explains that the end of the benefit payment for claimants not able to be placed in the support group category, will occur on 30 April 2012. This is as a result of changes brought in within the Welfare Reform Bill, which has now become law.
The Welfare Reform Bill limits contribution-based ESA to one year – a reform which has received criticism for failing to take into account the reality of recovering from serious illnesses. Those who do not qualify for income-based ESA will have to start claiming Jobseekers Allowance – obliging them to apply for work that they might be too unwell to undertake.
Claimants that have no underlying entitlement to income-related ESA, (because their partner works) will find that their contributory-based ESA will end between 30 April and 3 June. Birmingham Citizens Advice Bureau Service (BCABS) will be providing advice and support to anyone who finds themselves in this position
Emma Cook, Operations Manager at BCABS said: “The swift implementation of these changes to ESA means that it is vitally important that people are aware of their position as soon as possible. Anyone who is unsure as to what that will mean for them and their household budgets, or believes that they should be in the ESA Support Group, should seek advice.”
Another major change is due to be implemented on 30 April. Young people aged between 16 and 20 will no longer be able to receive contribution-based ESA without paying National Insurance contributions. New young claimants will be subject to the standard contribution conditions.
The DWP plans to contact all claimants, by telephone in the first instance, to inform them of the change and to prompt claims from those who might qualify for income-related ESA. They will be sent a further letter on 9 April.
Birmingham Citizens Advice provides a telephone helpline on 08444771010 or people can ask for email advice on firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are affected by these changes, Northfield CAB offers a drop in service:
734-740 Bristol Road South, Northfield B31 2NN
Monday 9.30 – 6.30
Wednesday 9.30 – 12.00
Friday 9.30 – 6.30