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A big change has just been made to benefits for sick and disabled people, starting today


People with “a severe, lifelong disability, illness or health condition” who are unlikely to ever work again are exempted from being reassessed for benefits

Debbie Abrahams speaks on effects of ‘unfair disability assessments’

The government is accused of an “outrageous broken promise” after announcing thousands of life-long sick and disabled people will no longer face cruel re-tests for their benefits.

People with “a severe, lifelong disability, illness or health condition” who are unlikely to ever work again will be exempted from reassessments for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

The move came into force for all assessments from today, almost a year to the day after it was promised by then-Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green.

But Labour said the move fell short of what the government had promised and was too vague.

Only people deemed unfit for ‘work-related activity’ in ESA, or its equivalent in Universal Credit, can claim the exemption. Those deemed fit for ‘work-related activity’ still have to undergo retests.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams said: “This is an outrageous broken promise.

Good news for some sick and disabled people – but not all (Image: Rex Features)

“This is an outrageous broken promise”, said Debbie Abrahams (Image: Daily Mirror)

“Sick and disabled people have been waiting for the Government to announce specific conditions that would be exempt from punitive reassessments, finally providing the certainty many have been waiting for. Instead they have been offered with a vague statement with no specific guarantees at all.

“The Government must publish a full list of the conditions that will automatically be exempted from reassessment immediately.”

Labour MP Neil Coyle, a member of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, added: “This should have included all disabled people on ESA, including people with earning disabilities in the work-related activity group.

“As usual, the DWP is trying to claim credit for doing less than promised, later than agreed.”

Then-welfare chief Damian Green promised the move almost exactly a year ago (Image: AFP)

Parkinson’s UK spokesman Phil Reynolds said “These new criteria are a big step in the right direction, but it is still not clear how many people with Parkinson’s this will now benefit.

“A problem still remains with the assessors’ very mixed knowledge of Parkinson’s. Around a quarter of people with Parkinson’s have been placed in the ‘back to work’ group for ESA despite the fact that their condition will not improve, which is clearly ludicrous.”

“Until this situation dramatically improves, we fear that many people with Parkinson’s still won’t be protected from the trauma and indignity of pointless ESA assessments.”

Scope spokesman James Taylor said the changes were positive “but for many people they do not address the root of the problem.”

He added: “The Work Capability Assessment remains fundamentally flawed and in need of drastic overhaul. Two thirds of ESA decisions are currently overturned at appeal.

This is republished article. Originally this article was published by

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