Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit that the Department for Work and Pensions (the Department) pays to people who have limited capability to work owing to disability or illness. In 2016–17, the Department paid out around £15 billion in ESA to approximately 2.4 million people. In 2011, the Department began reassessing people who were claiming older-style benefits such as Incapacity Benefit and transferring those eligible to ESA. In November 2017, the media reported that around 70,000 people who had been transferred to ESA had been underpaid because they had been awarded ESA based on their National Insurance contributions only, when they might also have been entitled to ESA on income grounds and extra premium payments. The Department announced on 14 December 2017 that it had established a special team to contact the people affected and pay back the money they are owed. It expects to pay around £340 million in arrears by April 2019.
Published: 18 July 2018