Employment and Support Allowance help to be extended to 2021 – are you affected?

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Employment and Support Allowance helps those whose work is affected by their health condition or disability. It provides money to help with living costs to those unable to work, and support to get back into work if a person is able to. But the government has vowed to continue to provide support to those who need it most by extending regulations first implemented earlier in the year into 2021.

New ESA regulations were introduced in March in an effort to help as many people as possible through the COVID-19 crisis.

It removed the seven waiting days, and treated claimants as having a Limited Capability for Work without the requirement for an assessment or fit notes.

These changes are to be extended for a further six months – until May 12, 2021. 

The extension will apply to both new-style and legacy ESA new claims.

This, the government has said, will ensure support is provided as early as possible to those affected by the pandemic. 

Provisions of this kind remove the incentives for people to remain working if they have been infected with the virus, or fail to self-isolate if necessary.

Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, commented on the update.

He said: “This makes sure that those impacted by COVID-19 get the support they are entitled to as quickly as possible and it is only right we extend this temporary change into next year.

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“It is only through our collective efforts that we will overcome this virus and it is vitally important that people self-isolate when required to do so.”

How much a person ultimately receives in ESA is dependent on a number of factors including age, ability to get back into work, and stage of application.

However, those who get ‘new style’ ESA will earn valuable Class 1 National Insurance credits, which could help towards a state pension in the future.

While a person’s claim is being assessed they should expect to receive the ‘assessment rate’ for 13 weeks.

If a person is under 25, this will be up to £58.90 a week, rising to £74.35 a week for those over this age.

After an assessment, a person can expect to be placed in one of two key groups – work-related activity or support.

Those who can get back into work will be placed in the first group, where they can get up to £74.35 a week.

And those in the latter group will receive up to £113.55 a week to support them. 

The government has explained that Britons can receive Universal Credit at the same time, or instead of ‘new style’ ESA.

Those who have an urgent need to receive money can therefore request an advance – which ultimately has to be repaid, but could provide immediate support.

People who are ineligible for ESA could also be able to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which from March was available for the first day of someone’s absence.

SSP is also payable to those with coronavirus, or who are self-isolating in accordance with government advice. 

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