Woman sitting on bench

Reassessments for ESA to be stopped

Some people with conditions like progressive MS who can't work will no longer face benefit reassessments. The Government announced this today.

New criteria are being developed for the out of work disability benefit Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

Some people will have their reassessments stopped, meaning they won't be asked again to prove they are too unwell to work. People with the progressive form of MS are likely to be included.

Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green MP announced this today.

What is ESA?

ESA is given to people aged 65 and under who have a disability and who are unable to work as a result.

People claiming ESA must attend a face to face assessment – known as a work capability assessment – where they're asked a number of questions about their condition.

Most people have been reassessed regularly – normally at least every three years.

Who exactly will this change apply to?

While this is good news, there are still several unanswered questions, including exactly who this will apply to and how it will be awarded.

We’ll be working over the coming months to get answers to these questions.

Does this apply to PIP?

No, this announcement doesn't affect Personal Independence Payment (PIP). But we're now calling on the Government to apply this change to PIP, too.

We played a lead campaigning role in the u-turn on PIP earlier this year. The Government reversed plans that could have taken this essential benefit away from many people with MS.

A victory for common sense

Michelle Mitchell, Chief Executive of the MS Society, said: “This is a victory for common sense. Frequent reassessments for people with progressive conditions like MS are too often a waste of time and money. They can leave people with uncertainty and fear of having their support taken away.

“We are therefore delighted that the Government has listened to our concerns and have agreed to stop reassessments – albeit for only some ESA claimants.

“This is good news, but there’s still a lot more to do for people with MS - including improving the assessment for ESA and calling for inappropriate reassessments to stop for other vital benefits, like PIP.”

The decision follows months of talks between a group of charities, including the MS Society, and the Department for Work and Pensions. We have pushed for the Government to end unnecessary reassessments of people with MS and other progressive conditions.