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CAB claims the Employment Support Allowance forms are too complicated and almost impossible to fill in correctly without help.
Employment Support Allowance, which replaced Incapacity Benefit in November 2008, is proving to be a very difficult benefit to claim for many people. It is more work focussed. From April DWP doctors will have to right “fit” notes rather than “sick” notes for claimants, which changes the emphasis. Patients’ own GPs are excluded from the process and there is mounting evidence that the actual medicals are of poor quality.
The new claim form collects very limited information if your condition is variable in nature such as those with mental health problems. We have concerns about the encouragement to return to work for people who are not fit – eg cancer sufferers are being asked to fill in lengthy capacity for work claim forms and attend medicals when they are undergoing chemotherapy. The law says they should be exempt. Taunton CAB has been giving evidence nationally on this issue alongside Macmillan Cancer Support to try to stop this practice.
If you fail to get ESA you can contact CAB for help with an appeal as this is a specialist service we provide.
People reported the high costs of contacting busy government depts by mobile phone but following lobbying from CAB, 90% of mobile telephone providers have now agreed to free calls to 0800 numbers. Check with your mobile provider.
If you want to check whether you might be able to claim a benefit, and cannot get through to the Benefit Enquiry Line of Job Centre Plus who are very busy, try the Direct Gov website which has a benefit calculator and excellent information.