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Application for Permitted Work on ESA treated as change of circumstance and transferred to Universal Credit

Judy Scott
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Judy Scott Consultancy

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A service in Liverpool is planning to pay people for service user involvement (part-time occasional consultations). The people are in receipt of ESA. The service was going to advise people to fill in a Permitted Work form so that they can accept some part-time earnings as allowed.

However the project has been told by another local project that their clients who received ESA were treated as having a change of circumstance when they applied to do Permitted Work, and were transferred to Universal Credit.

Does anybody know if this is allowed? Can DWP choose what they deem to be a ‘change of circumstance’?

The project has a meeting with DWP on Friday so any advice before then would be welcome.

Thank you folks

Elliot Kent
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This is one of the multitude of problems that comes about because of this pervasive but kind-of unhelpful idea that there are changes in circumstances which either do or do not result in a transfer to UC. One of which is usually given as “starting work”.

The only relevant rule here is this - claimants in a full service area (i.e. everywhere, now) cannot make new claims for legacy benefits subject to the various exceptions (SDP, temporary/supported housing etc). Otherwise, everything continues as before.

Starting permitted work does not necessitate a new claim for anything - it just requires ESA to take action within the existing award. Assuming that this project fits within permitted work rules, it should not cause any issues for ESA claimants.

(It may well be different if - for instance - the work on its own or combined with other work took the claimants outside of ESA entitlement. In that situation, the ESA claim would stop, a new WTC claim would most likely be excluded and a UC claim would be de facto required).