Inquiry into Migration from Incapacity Benefits to Employment and Support Allowance

Release from Work and Pensions Committee Select Committee Announcement

NEW INQUIRY

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) replaced incapacity benefits for people making new claims from October 2008. To be eligible for ESA, a person must usually undergo a Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

The introduction of ESA in 2008 was initially limited to new claimants. Existing incapacity benefit claimants are now being reassessed under the Work Capability Assessment. The process will last until 2014 with around 1.5 million people being reassessed.

Reassessment commenced on 11 October 2010 with a trial in Aberdeen and Burnley. At the end of February, Jobcentre Plus began a limited introductory phase, and will move to full national reassessment of incapacity benefit claimants from April 2011.

The Work and Pensions Committee has decided to conduct an inquiry into the ESA migration, including the Work Capability Assessment. In particular, it will focus on the following issues:

· The Department’s communications to customers going through the assessment and whether the information, guidance and advice provided by the Department and Jobcentre Plus is effective in supporting customers through the process. 

· The Work Capability Assessment including: the assessment criteria; the service provided by Atos staff; the suitability of assessment centres; and customers’ overall experience of the process. 

· The decision-making process and how it could be improved to ensure that customers are confident that the outcome of their assessment is a fair and transparent reflection of their capacity for work. 

· The appeals process, including the time taken for the appeals process to be completed; and whether customers who decide to appeal the outcome of their assessment have all the necessary guidance, information and advice to support them through the process.

· The outcome of the migration process and the different paths taken by the various client groups: those moved to Jobseeker’s Allowance, including the support provided to find work and the impact of the labour market on employment prospects; those found fit for work who may be entitled to no further benefits; those placed in the Work Related Activity Group of the ESA, including the likely impact of the Department’s decision to time-limit contribution-based ESA to a year; and those placed in the Support Group. 

· The time-scale for the national roll-out for the migration process, including the Department’s capacity to introduce changes identified as necessary in the Aberdeen and Burnley trials. 

Short submissions (no more than 3,000 words) are invited from interested
organisations and individuals.
The deadline for written evidence is 14 April 2011. 

How to submit your evidence –

· Contributors should feel no obligation to comment on all the issues raised above, but should focus on those areas in which they have particular expertise or interest.

· Please bear in mind that the Committee cannot investigate individual cases.

· Written evidence should be in Word or rich text format, not PDF format, and sent by email to workpencom@parliament.uk The body of the email must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The email should also make clear who the submission is from.

Hard copy submissions should be sent to: The Work and Pensions
Committee, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA.

· Submissions should be in the format of a self-contained piece of written
evidence. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document must include a summary. For further guidance on the submission of evidence see  www.parliament.uk/get-involved/have-your-say/take-part-in-committee-inquiries/witness/ 

· Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Material already published elsewhere may be referred to within a proposed piece of written evidence, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included. 

· Once submitted, your submission becomes the property of the Committee and no public use should be made of it unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written evidence it receives, either by printing the evidence, publishing it on the internet (where it will be accessible by search engines) or by making it publicly available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into
account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

· For data protection purposes, it would be helpful if individuals wishing to
submit written evidence send their contact details in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Further information Committee membership:

Dame Anne Begg MP (Chair) (Lab, Aberdeen South),

Harriett Baldwin MP (Con, West Worcestershire),

Andrew Bingham MP (Con, High Peak),

Karen Bradley MP (Con, Staffordshire Moorlands),

Alex Cunningham MP (Lab, Stockton North),

Kate Green MP (Lab, Stretford and Urmston),

Mr Oliver Heald MP (Con, North East Hertfordshire),

Glenda Jackson MP (Lab, Hampstead and Highgate),

Brandon Lewis MP, (Con, Great Yarmouth),

Stephen Lloyd MP (Lib Dem, Eastbourne),

Teresa Pearce MP (Lab, Erith and Thamesmead)

Specific Committee Information: workpencom@parliament.uk 020 7219 5832

Media Information: Laura Humble humblel@parliament.uk 020 7219 2003
Committee Website: http://www.parliament.uk/workpencom
Watch committees and parliamentary debates online: www.parliamentlive.tv  

Publications/Reports/Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474).

Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on www.parliament.uk

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3 Responses to “Inquiry into Migration from Incapacity Benefits to Employment and Support Allowance”

  1. Mo Stewart Says:

    This is welcome news. The W&P Committee are very aware of the serious problems with all assessments using Atos and, I believe, they are using this call for evidence to gain documentary proof of Atos failure to adhere to the DWP contract – all 500 pages of it.

    Let’s hope this helps and I shall look forward to the committee’s conclusions at the end of the project.

  2. malka Says:

    are we going to respond to this as individuals and as Carer’s watch, we need as much evidence as possible….it might be an opportunity for a break through……..

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