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11 June, 2021 Open access

Work and Pensions Committee urges DWP to consider lifting the 365-day limit on new-style ESA entitlement when a work capability assessment is still pending

Letter to DWP on disability employment issues also requests details of what steps are being taken to ensure PIP claims are not stopped pending reviews, now that pandemic-related extensions have stopped

The Work and Pensions Committee has urged the DWP to consider lifting the 365-day limit on new-style employment and support allowance (ESA) entitlement in cases where a work capability assessment (WCA) is still pending.

In a letter to the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Justin Tomlinson, the chair of the Committee Stephen Timms asks for more information to inform the Committee’s inquiry into the Disability employment gap.

In particular, Mr Timms highlights evidence from Scope that during the pandemic some claimants have reached the end of the 365-day period of entitlement to new-style (or contributary old-style) ESA without having undergone a WCA - because of delays in scheduling the WCA or because they were told that they needed to undergo a face-to-face assessment and these were not available due to Covid restrictions.

Noting that affected claimants have faced significant financial penalties, Mr Timms asks -

‘In the light of the exceptional circumstances of the past year, will you consider lifting the 365-day limit on the length of claims, especially in cases where the claimant has been waiting for an assessment?’

In addition, Mr Timms renews an earlier request from the Committee for details of how many ESA claimants in total are facing exceptionally long waits for a WCA as a result of the suspension of face-to-face assessments between March 2020 and May 2021.

Elsewhere, Mr Timms also asks Mr Tomlinson about the problems faced by personal independence payment (PIP) claimants on fixed-term awards who have stopped being paid before the Department has been able to make a decision on whether to renew them, requesting details of what he is doing to rectify this and how many claimants have been affected.

Mr Timms closes the letter by requesting that the Minister responds by 21 June 2021.

Mr Timms’ letter to Mr Tomlinson is available from parliament.uk