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Employment and support allowance


Chris

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I know it's early days, but I'm wondering if anybody has had any experience yet of bringing this new benefit (replacing Incapacity Benefit) from the UK to France?  Reading the philosophy with which it was introduced, it would seem difficult to export it and still co-operate with all the processes designed to encourage the more able back to work, but surely they haven't found a new way of preventing the legitimately long-term sick from receiving benefits for which they have paid?  Any experiences so far on how the new system is affecting people moving to France?

Chris

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OK, then, I'll reply to myself....

Having spent an evening reading the paperwork, it seems clear that ESA can only be paid if you remain in the UK, so that even those found too disabled to take part in any kind of work related activity still lose the allowance if they leave the UK. Presumably no ESA = no E121, so is the E121 now extinct except for those over pension age?  The provisions of ESA initially apply only to new claims since October 2008, but Government policy is to progressively transfer people on existing Incapacity Benefit to ESA, so even those currently on this will lose both income and (presumably) E121 entitlement by the end of 2010 unless they return to live in the UK.

Unless I've missed something, here is an almost  incidental change which could seriously disrupt the lives of those currently relying on E121 for health cover while living in France, for whom private medical cover is unobtainable owing to pre-existing health problems. Please, somebody, tell me I've got this wrong, or is this another pending crisis for those who thought that being EU citizens actually meant freedom to live where they chose?  Don't get me wrong, I've no time for dodgy claimants using the tax-payer to subsidise their life in the sun, but this seems an unfair way to treat the genuinely disabled.

Somebody tell me I'm wrong!

Chris

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Logically there is a difference between those who cannot work and those who can; the question is one of percentage I guess. Quite how the new regulation will be applied remains to be seen. Clearly, someone who is 100% will not be challenged, but then, what about someone who is 80% or 70% or 50%? Where will the bar be fixed which means that people will be expected to look for work and will hence (probably, I suspect) not be able to export the benefit?
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Agreed - and presumably there is an equally logical difference between those who cannot work for a period, and those who will never be able to work again.  The trouble is, of course, that this latter distinction may only become clear over a period of years. 

The Disability Alliance handbook on this new benefit states the following pretty baldly:

3. Presence in Great Britain

To be entitled to ESA, you must be in Great Britain (GB). Great Britain means England, Wales and Scotland. You can, however, continue to be entitled to ESA during a temporary absence from GB in the circumstances set out below.

WRA, S.1(3)(d)

That seems to suggest that NOBODY can export this benefit. The DWP leaflet lists (very limited) possibilities for temporary absence while receiving the allowance, but says nothing about permanent moves within the EU.  Of course this is logical for the people assigned to the 'Work Related Activity Group', who will be expected to undertake regular supervised exercises aimed at getting them back to work, but the 'Support Group' (i.e. the seriously unwell) are not expected to undertake any activity which requires them to be where the DWP can keep a close eye on them.....

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Sorry not to have responded earlier.  I have no personal experience of ICB or its replacement.  However, I did have a long talk with a contact who is "in the know" on these subjects and has a contact very high up in the UK civil service.  The last I heard, the new style benefit would not, as you point out, carry with it any E121 entitlements.  However, anybody already living here on an ICB E121 would keep it, unless or until they are deemed to be capable of seeking work, following a medical assesment.  These assesments can be and are being carried out in France.

Does this help?

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From the DWP website "From 27 October 2008 Employment and Support Allowance applies to new customers, replacing Incapacity Benefit and Income Support paid on incapacity grounds. Existing customers will initially continue to receive their existing benefits, so long as they continue to satisfy the entitlement conditions."

Emphasis mine.

 

Edit: Most forums (what do they know!) think that the implementation will take years for existing claimants, with a General Election thrown in for good measure. Presumably people here before November 2007 will be able to stay in the system anyway.

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[quote user="KathyC"]

Presumably people here before November 2007 will be able to stay in the system anyway.

[/quote]The problem is, Kathy, that we cannot presume this.  The agreement by the Health Minister to allow those already here to remain in the system, refers to E106 holders only.  In spite of several letters from FHI and approaches to the minister by the UK Embassy, on this subject, she has subsequently kept stum or denied the possibililty that there is any chance of E121 entitlement being lost.  As we know this is rubbish.  If the assessments result in ICB E121s being withdrawn, then the right to reside could evaporate at the same time.  The  only upside is that after 5 years' residence this will no longer matter, but FHI is certainly of the opinion that some people (who may well have health problems still in spite of being deemed fit for work) may be caught out in this way.

 

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[quote user="cooperlola"][quote user="KathyC"]

Presumably people here before November 2007 will be able to stay in the system anyway.

[/quote]The problem is, Kathy, that we cannot presume this.  The agreement by the Health Minister to allow those already here to remain in the system, refers to E106 holders only.  In spite of several letters from FHI and approaches to the minister by the UK Embassy, on this subject, she has subsequently kept stum or denied the possibililty that there is any chance of E121 entitlement being lost.  As we know this is rubbish.  If the assessments result in ICB E121s being withdrawn, then the right to reside could evaporate at the same time.  The  only upside is that after 5 years' residence this will no longer matter, but FHI is certainly of the opinion that some people (who may well have health problems still in spite of being deemed fit for work) may be caught out in this way.

 

[/quote]

 

Thanks for the correction. I thought that it was ALL holders of E forms who were included.

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Hello All,

It is indeed "early days" but my view on this is as follows:

I think it is worth bearing in mind that replacing IB with ESA is directed at the vast majority of claimants who are living in the UK. Although those recipients living abroad can or will be affected they are not going to be a particular priority. I cannot see how E121 could be withdrawn simply because of residence in another EU state. ESA, like IB, will still be based on UK NI contributions and as Long Term Incapacity Benefit is classed as an invalidity benefit under EU regulations, those same regulations deem it exportable. (I have had this specific point confirmed by the DWP). It could be withdrawn on review of the level of incapacity but that does not constitute any difference to the present state of affairs.

Where there is likely to be a change is in HOW INCAPACITY IS MEASURED. There is a suspicion that the new tests are specifically designed to reject claimants and it is new claimants of ESA, introduced 27 October 2008, who are likely to be initially affected. There are no immediate plans to move those presently receiving IB to ESA. Just because there may be no immediacy it does not mean they will not in due course do so! However, even if they do apply these new incapacity measurements to existing claimants it is likely to be a long drawn out business. Still a matter of concern but not a reason to panic at this stage. We had enough of that in the autumn of 2007!

Regards

Owen

pjowen@expathealthdirect.co.uk
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Interesting reply, thank you. DWP has stated an intention to move existing IB claimants on to ESA by the end of 2010, which, while not close enough to cause panic, isn't that remote either.

Purely personally, the new situation has certainly led me to ponder my medium-term plans again. Here is the dilemma - my house comes with my job, so any medical retirement would make me homeless. I can just about afford a small house in France, but without an E121 I can't go and live there!  Of course private medical cover wouldn't be possible, because my medical condition makes me hard to insure, and anyway I couldn't afford it out of a disability pension - especially if the UK government denies me any benefit as well as an E121!  Complicated?[:(]

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From the DWP Fact-sheet

Q Why don’t you move people off IB and onto ESA straight away? 

A  There are 2.6 million people on existing incapacity benefits and it would be operationally impossible to move them all on to ESA at once. We plan to move them over time and complete the process by 2013.

So perhaps not quite so imminent.

However anyone who is hoping that an election would significantly modify this policy should bear in mind that when there was talk of a back bench revolt by Labour MPs Gordon was promised support from Dave Cameron  to get the measure through.

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You're quite right - I stand corrected on the date, which I quoted from (faulty) memory.

It has been suggested that I could ride on the back of my other half's E121 if I did need to take early retirement on medical grounds myself, but what happens if that is withdrawn (say) 6 months after we move over - if they are going to complete the changeover by 2013, then obviously they are going to start it well before then, but I doubt if they will give out a timetable. So we could be left up a creek - unless the French Govt allows the operation of UK Govt policy to count as an 'accident de vie'?!

Don't get me wrong - I don't disagree that there has been widespread abuse of IB over the years - it's just that the vulnerable seem to be the ones who often get targeted and bullied when they want to cut down on Social Security spending. The concept of the new system makes sense, it's just the incidental effect that says that even if a person is admitted by the DWP as clearly too ill to work, they still can't go abroad and take their health cover with them.

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"The concept of the new system makes sense, it's just the incidental effect that says that even if a person is admitted by the DWP as clearly too ill to work, they still can't go abroad and take their health cover with them.

Sorry, but why should anybody who is getting ESA or IB be allowed to move hundreds of miles away from any hope of employment and still receive an employment related benefit and the "free" healthcare that comes with it which amounts to an enormous financial benefit to those in France who get the IB related E121?

Why should the removal of IB and the loss of an E121 cause a panic? IB and an E121 is not a right its a benefit applicable to those who are incapacitated from working its not a bonus payment to people to supplement their other income as many in France have come to expect.

If Labour is returned then IMHO expect IB or ESA  to be paid to decreasing numbers of people who live in the UK and only to those who are available for work and who attend regular interviews, but DLA may be come more easily exportable for the severely disabled and cronically ill.  With the Tories there will be no payments to anyone residing outside of the UK if the opinion of the Daily Mail readers is anything to go by!!

On another point someone wrote that people have "paid" for these benefits, quite how is not stated, but a very large percentage of those on IB in the UK have never done a days work in their lives and therefore paid no taxes or NI so how have they paid for them?

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[quote user="Chris"]

Don't get me wrong - I don't disagree that there has been widespread abuse of IB over the years - it's just that the vulnerable seem to be the ones who often get targeted and bullied when they want to cut down on Social Security spending. The concept of the new system makes sense, it's just the incidental effect that says that even if a person is admitted by the DWP as clearly too ill to work, they still can't go abroad and take their health cover with them.

[/quote]

 

The concept is sensible ,if you are able to work then you should seek work and not live ,expect or rely on benefit.

No healthy person can move abroad and take their health cover with them (except those pensioners entitled to an E121 and for a limited time those entitled to an E106)so why should a person who has been assessed as being capable of  some form of work think that they should be entited to free health care.

I have to pay over 2000€ per year for my health cover in France but you expect me to be sympathetic towards you, who could be perfectly capable of some form of work but who is demanding an E121 so they can get free health care in France.

Sorry but any sympathy just went out the window with your last sentence

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Here we go again.

Fundamental to the idea of the national insurance scheme we all contributed to is that there should be some form of safety net for those who become unemployed or who find themselves unable to work due to illness.  Those deemed as currently incapable of working are unable to fulfil the requirements of Job Seekers Allowance hence the entitlement to Incapacity Benefit.  I'm sure most would agree in principle that such a safety net is a good thing.  I'm sure also most would also agree that there should be mechanisms to regularly review a persons capacity to work.  These mechanisms are currently in place and apply to anyone in receipt of long-term IB whether UK resident or not.

Implicit in the determination that an individual is currently unable to work is the acceptance that they are not available to work and therefore not required to be available.  Recent EU law has confirmed the right of freedom of movement for all citizens, including the inactive,  and confirmed that certain health related benefits, plus child benefit,  can be exported.  Those in receipt of long-term incapacity benefit are considered by the UK government to be state pensioners and like those in receipt of the UK state retirement pension have their healthcare cover provided by the UK via the E121.  Presumably because they are unable to contribute to the state healthcare system via work. Anyone moving to France and working is either covered by a workers E106 if paying UK taxes or will contribute to the French system.  Those who moved to France as early retired contribute to the French system based on income and have chosen to do so, presumably with the full knowledge that this would be the case.

Should an individual in receipt of LTIB and living in France be judged (or declare themselves) to be fit to work in any capacity (as under the present system), they will lose the benefit and entitlement to the E121.  The consequences of this may be severe if they are then unable to find or afford private health insurance but again most would agree that if the decision is correct then the entitlement should be removed.  They would have to return to the UK if they wished to claim Job Seekers Allowance, or realistically speaking, find work.

That is the situation.  It is entirely legitimate to receive IB while in France in the knowledge that it can easily be withdrawn.  If a person, genuinely unable to work,  decides, perhaps for health reasons, to move to France, its no-ones business but their own.   In doing so they probably gave up other health related benefits that were not or are not exportable. Should they also be banned from public parks, cinemas or any other activities that the able bodied enjoy?

The OP certainly doesn't fall into the 'never worked a day in their life' category and when they refer to benefits thay have 'paid for' they are entirely correct that in better times they supported those needing a safety net.  Such is the nature of the UK welfare state.

Finally, declaring people fit for work and slotting them into job vacancies sounds attractive.  Unfortunately real life is a little more complicated.  Not necessarily an unbiased source but an enlightening read :   http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/oct/22/welfare-to-work-benefits

Mr Cat

 

  

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[quote user="Ron Avery"]

 

On another point someone wrote that people have "paid" for these benefits, quite how is not stated, but a very large percentage of those on IB in the UK have never done a days work in their lives and therefore paid no taxes or NI so how have they paid for them?

[/quote]

 

Whilst I agree with much of the rest of your post, I must take you up on this point. IB is a contributions based benefit so people must have had the appropriate contributions credited at the start of a claim. Someone who's never worked would be unable to claim IB and would have to claim IS instead, and I doubt that there's any chance of that becoming exportable.

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[quote user="Ron Avery"]Not sure about that Kathy,   I'll check with my DWP source who does ESA interviews who was telling me recently  I thought, about the IB/ESA claimant who had done drugs since 15 and was now 23 and totally unable to do any sort of work due to his mental state.[/quote]

You may be able to claim Incapacity Benefit if any of the following apply to you:

  • your Statutory Sick Pay has ended, or you cannot get it

  • you are self employed or unemployed

  • you have been getting Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and have not gone back to work for your employer because you are incapable of work

  • you were under State Pension age when you became sick

You must also have been:

  • paying National Insurance Contributions

  • unable to work due to sickness or disability for at least four days in a row (including weekends and public holidays)

  • unable to work for two or more days out of seven consecutive days

  • getting special medical treatment

or you must:

  • be aged between 16 and 20 (or under 25 if you were in education or training at least three months immediately before turning 20)

  • have been too ill to work because of sickness or disability for at least 28 weeks

  • have been too ill to work before you turned 20 (or 25 if you were in education or training at least three months immediately before turning 20

 

As you can see, there are certain exceptions for young people, which would cover the case you mention.

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[quote user="Ron Avery"]So you can get IB then without having paid a penny in NI or having done a day's work, not that of course applies to the OP but it does question Mr Cat's statements about entitlement based on payments.[/quote]

Well I stand corrected.  It appears in some very limited circumstances,  i.e. when due the claimant's age they haven't made sufficient NI contributions and would be ineligible for any other benefit such as JSA, the NICs requirement is waived.  The Government's figures confirm the default requirement :

 "Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people, broken down by gender, who have made applications for incapacity benefit in the last year have had their applications refused as a result of an incomplete contributions history. [15006]

Mrs. McGuire: Between March 2004 and February 2005 around 330,145 incapacity benefit claims were 'disallowed at outset', due to failing the contribution conditions. Information by gender is not available."

Mr Cat

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  • 1 year later...
Apologies for resurrecting an old thread but it seemed the appropriate place to post this. I make no comment on it.

The DWP have released figures on the pass rates for Work Capability

Assessments (WCAs), which were introduced along with Employment Support

Allowance (ESA) last year. The WCA determines who gets to receive ESA,

and who is diverted onto Jobseeker's allowance.

  • 5 per cent who are the most severely ill or disabled people are

    going into the support group, and will not be expected to undertake any

    work related activity, instead being offered voluntary help to manage

    their condition.

  • 36 per cent are found fit for work and not eligible for ESA.

  • 11 per cent are found eligible for ESA with work related activity

    (such as regular advisor interviews) to help them prepare to return to

    work in the future.

  • 38 per cent stopped claiming benefit before the assessment on them was completed.

  • 10 per cent were still being assessed as the statistics were compiled.

Roughly a third of appeals are successful.

Source

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I wonder how the numbers on the new benefit after the current round of (re)testingtesting will compare with those on the old one before the Tories started dumping people there to massage the unemployment figures?

Perhaps it is significant that 74% were refused benefit the first time round, which, after appeals means that a huge 50% of those previously in receipt will no longer be eligible. Phew, that is a hell of a lot of folks who will have to join the unemployment queues!

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