Friday, 6 September 2013


Today, Sheila Gilmore has won a debate on a very specific area of welfare reform. The government have made it harder for people to appeal if their claim for Employment Support Allowance is rejected. First, they must now wait for a "Mandatory Reconsideration" which means that the DWP decision maker has to look at his decision again. In principle this is fine - in fact it would be a ggod idea, hopefully meaning that fewer people had to go through the stress of an unnecessary appeal.

BUT...and isn't there always a but with this government? Your ESA will be stopped during that period, meaning that for many there will be no income at all. To make things worse, the DWP have refused to set a tiime limit on how long Mandatory Reconsideration will take. So, in theory, we have a situation where your claim could be rejected, and you lose your only source of income indefinitely. If you plan to appeal, you can hardly sign up for JSA as doing so involves a declaration of "fitness to work". 

If at the end of all this your appeal is successful, the money you lost would be refunded, but what good is that to people living with no income for a long as the DWP feel like leaving them? How would you eat in the meantime. It's a shocking situation that could cause untold suffering. 

As you can see below, the debate is at 2pm and you can watch it live here :

Press release: MP sends Minister speech before debate on controversial benefits test

Posted on September 4, 2013

Debate on test for Employment and Support Allowance at 2pm on Friday
Sheila Gilmore’s speech sent to Minister responsible this afternoon
Minister can have no excuses for not answering questions

In advance of a debate on the test for controversial sickness and disability benefit ESA, Work and Pensions Select Committee member Sheila Gilmore today took the unusual step of emailing an advance copy of her speech to the Minister due to respond, Mark Hoban.

The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is used to determine whether people can get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which replaced the old-fashioned Incapacity Benefit in 2008. Since its introduction many claimants have been incorrectly found fit for work. Sheila Gilmore has secured a half hour debate on this issue at 2pm on Friday 7 September.

Speaking today Sheila Gilmore said:

Today I have taken the unusual step of emailing a copy of my speech for an upcoming debate to Mark Hoban, the Minister due to speak for the Government. Now he can have no excuse for not answering the important questions I intend to put to him.

Sheila Gilmore went on to say:

Since the introduction of the Work Capability Assessment, 4 in 10 people found fit for work have appealed their decision and four in ten of those appeals have been successful. I’ve been calling on the Government to fix the test and reduce these numbers for some time.

However on Friday I’m going to focus on those who are incorrectly found fit for work and appeal. In future these people will be left without any income while their claim is reconsidered by Civil Servants. Ministers have suggested that claimants could apply for Jobseekers Allowance, but they know that to get JSA you have to be fit and available for work.

In effect the Government will be saying to this group that they are too fit for ESA, but too sick or disabled for JSA. Ministers need to sort out this contradiction.


Notes to Editors:
Sheila Gilmore will focus on the support given to people who are incorrectly found fit for work during a period known as reconsideration – in effect an informal appeal to civil servants that has to take place before a case can be passed to independent Tribunal Judges. At present claimants can be paid ESA at a reduced rate during this period, but in the future they will have to apply for Jobseekers Allowance. A requirement of JSA is that people are fit and available for work, meaning many people who will eventually be awarded ESA will not qualify.
See the email Sheila Gilmore sent to Mark Hoban here.
Sheila Gilmore is a member of the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee. You can view the committee’s website here.
For more information please contact Matt Brennan, Parliamentary Assistant to Sheila Gilmore MP, on 020 7219 7062, 07742 986 513 or


  1. My ME/CFS support group has seen people go from zero points at WCA to Support Group at appeal who would have been TOO SICK to get to a Jobcentre so sign on regularly.
    So even if Jobcentre agrees that people appealing WCA don't have to seek work, it still leaves those who can't physically get there in a state of destitution.

    1. Perhaps that can now go back to the Jobcentre as part of 'conditionalities' around the JSA of people too sick to work? Hoban suggested that if someone can't get to a Jobcentre but has a doctor's note in support, they should still get JSA. Will be interesting to test this...

  2. Hmm, judging by what Hoban says about JSA, it seems like anyone who is being denied both JSA and ESA should be encouraged to share their stories. Apparently this should be an impossibility!

    At least the debate has forced Hoban to state that JSA 'with conditionalities' should not be denied to people claiming ESA. The next question he should be made to answer is whether claiming JSA counts against your ESA claim. If it does, then his entire position is untenable.

  3. as i keep saying the governments agenda is to make you jump through as many hoops as possible so that you kill yourself

    anyone with a just half a brain can see that fact all that the stopping of ESA achieves is more deaths as that person will invariably be to ill to get JSA

    all these ESA/JSA/IB/and all the other abbreviation's are just bull

    bring back invalidity benefit that's what i say as it was crystal clear in it's delivery

    every year you had to visit a DWP DOCTOR FOR A FULL MEDICAL
    or if you were to ill he would come to you

    He would tell you when you were there if you were to ill for work and played safe with words like "you could work but you need to be very careful" or " not at this time i would suggest you ask me next year about returning to work"

    or it's most unlikely that your ll never work again as in my case

    I was always reassured by his words despite the DWP trying to stop paying me

    they always did pay me and have to back date the benefit it was just there little game they played with me so they said

    yes they would stop my money for breathing if they could but as for the DWP doctors they were brilliant and they took great care of me at all times even coming round my house to make sure i was eating OK they were good days only spoilt by the DWP who wonted me dead

    today there are no good DWP doctors full stop so getting to your grave can be pretty quick if the DWP keep giving you the run round so my advice is to be very careful and keep your head down and watch your back when your out as you never know who is watching you and taking notes

  4. Do you get NI credits if no ESA or JSA?
    Anyone know?

    is your best bet for advice