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Incapacity Benefits Migration
28 October 2010
Between October 2010 and March 2014 existing incapacity benefits claimants (those on incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance and income support on disability grounds) will be reassessed under the employment and support allowance (ESA) Work Capability Assessment (WCA) instead of the Personal Capability Assessment.
Key aspects of migration
- no new claim will be required for the move to ESA, the process will be triggered by a notice to the customer;
- the date of a customer’s re-assessment will be based on the review date of their Personal Capability Assessment;
- people who reach State Pension Age during this reassessment period 2010-2014 will not be reassessed to avoid having to change benefits twice in a short period;
- where possible, the DWP will use existing data held for IB/IS to determine entitlement to ESA;
- DWP has pledged to help customers adapt to their new circumstances and ensure continuity of payment is maintained;
- existing incapacity benefits will continue to be paid to the day before the change;
- where people who are eligible for ESA receive more on existing incapacity benefits than the appropriate ESA rate, their existing rate of benefit will be frozen at the point of conversion;
- where people who are eligible for ESA receive less on incapacity benefits than the appropriate ESA rate, their benefit will immediately be increased to the ESA rate on conversion;
- all claims to incapacity benefits on or after 31 January 2011 will be treated as new ESA claims – there will be no link to earlier claims for incapacity benefits;
- appeals may be brought against the decision not to award ESA as a result of failure to meet the WCA threshold;
- ESA will be paid at the same rate as for new ESA claims where a person is appealing against a decision that they are not entitled because of not meeting the WCA threshold;
- DWP have amended Housing Benefit (HB) / Council Tax Benefit (CTB) Regulations to ensure that the majority of customers will see no reduction in their overall benefit income solely because of this change (however, some Child Dependency Allowance customers may be affected by the change). See more information below.
- following careful consideration, it has been decided that the Work Focused Health Related Assessment (WFHRA) element of the WCA will be suspended for a period of 2 years. This will provide DWP with an opportunity to reconsider the WFHRA’s purpose and delivery. It will also improve the capacity to focus on and manage this change.
Timetable for migration
IB migration trials are due to start in Aberdeen and Burnley from October 2010 using a sample of 1,700 claimants. DA’s understanding is that these will be handled clerically, which means that DWP computer software will not be used or tested until full migration starts.
The main-roll out of migration of claimants from IB/income-related Income Support onto ESA will begin on 28 February 2011 and is due to finish in March 2014.
People reaching state pension age between these two dates will be excluded from the migration. This is the only group exempt from migration so far .
Arguments were put forward to move the Personal Capability Assessment exempt groups (about 30% of IB/IS claimants) onto the ESA Support Group but these were rejected. The Treasury are still mulling over what to do about pre-1995 tax exempt claimants (of IB and SDA).
For more information on incapacity benefits migration timetable see the DWP website at www.dwp.gov.uk/adviser/updates/ib-reassessing-claims/
Changes to the law
The Employment and Support Allowance (Transitional Provisions, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit) (Existing Awards) (No. 2) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/1907) make transitional provision for the movement of benefit claims from incapacity benefit (IB), income support (IS) paid on grounds of incapacity and severe disablement allowance (SDA) to employment and support allowance (ESA).
The Regulations also make related amendments to the rules for housing benefit council tax benefit.
The Employment and Support Allowance (Transitional Provisions, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit) (Existing Awards) (No. 2) (Amendment) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/2430) coming into effect on 1 November 2010, are designed to ‘further clarify the policy intent’ of the exercise to reassess those receiving incapacity benefits using the work capability assessment, as well as to correct drafting errors contained in SI 2010/1907. SR 2010/347 makes similar provision in Northern Ireland.
The DWP has also issued guidance to local authority housing benefit departments regarding transitional rules protecting levels of housing benefit and council tax benefit when claimants are migrated from incapacity benefits to employment and support allowance (HB/CTB Circular A14/2010).
SI 2010/1905 allows regulations to make provision for converting awards of incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance and income support on disability grounds into awards of an employment and support allowance, or terminating such existing awards), and also allows regulations to make provision in relation to aspects of awards of an employment and support allowance following their conversion from existing awards, such as their review or termination.
Proposed new regulations
- The linking rules for IB/IS will be abolished in January 2011.
- Draft regulations for a new WCA will be presented to the Social Security Advisory Committee at the beginning of August or September this year. The plan is to pass regulations in time for the main phase of the ESA migration (February 2011). If all goes to the DWP plan, the new regulations will probably be published in January 2011.
- The DWP is also currently carrying out an independent review of WCA. If you want to contribute click on the work capability assessment: a call for evidence link below.
The effect of migration
If you are found to have a limited capability for work in this assessment, you will be moved (migrated) onto ESA but if you are found fit for work the Government expects that:
- 50% of you will move onto jobseekers allowance.
- 20% of you will move on to another benefit (e.g. income support, carers allowance or re-claim ESA)
- 30% of you will move off benefits altogether.
(source paragraph 24 of the SSAC impact assessment – Annex A of ssac consultation on draft regulations).