Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Autumn Statement and Disability Benefits

You might quite understandably be mistaken in thinking that disabled people came out quite safe and sound from this year's autumn statement. After all our chancellor announced that although restrictions were going to have to be made to most welfare benefits, disabled people and carers would be supported and disability/carer benefits would not be affected.

The problem is that in the next breath he announced that, along with most other working age benefits, ESA would be included in the restriction to a 1% annual growth for the next 3 years. Well below the rate of inflation this amounts to a cut in real terms.

ESA is mostly paid to disabled people who are too sick to work. To qualify for this benefit they have to have undergone rigorous testing and passed the much maligned WCA (Work Capability Assessment) administered by ATOS and been classed as unfit for work. Some are considered to be able to work again at some time in the future (possibly years). These are put in the WRAG (Work Related Activity Group). Others are considered too ill or disabled ever to work again and are put in the Support Group.

So how can the chancellor be promising disability benefits be exempt when ESA is included in the cuts?

Well turning to the small print of the Treasury Costings (p33) we see the following:

“The following benefits, tax credits and payments will be up-rated by 1 per cent for 3 years from 2013-14:
• The main elements of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, applicable amounts for Housing Benefit;
It will not apply to the premia within these benefits relating to disability, pensioners, and caring responsibilities, the support group component of ESA, or the disability elements in tax credits, which will be uprated as usual.”

A claim for ESA comprises:
  • A main element of ESA (the bulk of the benefit)
  • A Support Group component or WRAG component (Anyone unfit for work gets one of these after passing the WCA)
  • Any relevant disability premiums (not everyone qualifies for these)
So what does this mean?

For both WRAG and Support group claimants the main element part will only rise by 1%.
For WRAG claimants the WRAG component will only rise by 1%
For Support Group claimants the Support component will rise by inflation.
For both WRAG and Support Group claimants any disability premiums will rise by inflation.

  • WRAG claimants who do not receive disability premiums will see their benefit restricted to 1% growth for 3 years.
  • All Support Group claimants and those WRAG claimants who receive disability premiums will see their benefit restricted to a growth slightly higher than 1% but still significantly lower than inflation. In fact it works out at approximately 1.4% according to DRUK.

ESA claimants are seriously ill and disabled people who have fairly and genuinely been found unfit for work. The statement that disabled people will be supported and disability benefits will be unaffected is totally and unequivocally untrue. It is high time that someone stood up and said so.


  1. Thank- you for explaining I'm in support group of cESA.

    I know the statement is untrue that the statement the disabled will be supported they are not.

    In the migration of IB to cESA and afterwards along fight to get DLA at the highest care component I find that the pension income rule of £85 a week for people on the highest care award has been scrapped so hence still a deduction in ESA meaning a gross deduction of £44 a week to me from supported cESA.( I've written to gov to see if this rule of deduction will be in PIP and it will for people on highest care, alas).
    This is so important as I'm priced out of market for social care and DFG. My partner is in WRAG group, so I am not home alone.

    Again gov is trying to dupe by saying they are supporting disabled more, clearly all people in situation know they are not and are at tipping point as the MS campaign says.

    Thank you Spoonydoc for explaining and understanding the system as it truly is, as no where else have I been able to find out about cESA.

    Thank you.

  2. Don't understand why ESA will increase by 1%. It's a benefit for disabled and sick people. Yes, it's an out of work benefit; but most (unlike JSA claimants) are generally on ESA for years.

  3. I've had to keep telling people in the various support groups for my condition that disabled people like us are most definitely being targetted and will be affected by the things in the Autumn Statement. Some just don't want to listen/believe or even look things up for themselves. They keep saying that "he promised we'd be looked after" or words to that effect.

    Yeah... "looked after" as in "I have a little 'problem' that needs looking after." Or maybe a "meddlesome problem" as in "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?"

    It is just so frustrating to hear other disabled people who I know will be adversely affected parroting the news media & tabloids themselves. To know that I can point them at so much information on what is really going on but they simply cannot be bothered to go and look. It's heartbreaking. Even more so when I know that I will have to sit there at some support meeting at some point while people are aghast at what has happenned and try very very hard not to stand up and scream "I F***ing Told You So!" before collapsing in a heap rather than being appropriately sympathtic or offering information on what help (not much) will now be available.

  4. Good statement for the disabled people. They must have what they ought to have. One good disability attorney must stand for this.

    1. I agree. Any individuals battling for disability insurance has a higher chance of being rewarded if backed up by a competent disability lawyer.

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