The Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green has delighted disability charities with the announcement that the Government is ending medical assessments for people on long term sick.
Mr Green said there was no point in retesting people claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) who have severe conditions and unlikely to get better.
A variety of charitable organisations have welcomed this news saying that reassessments for people with conditions like MS are not just a waste of time and money, but can cause huge distress and make people feel worried that their vital support will be taken away.
There are many thousands of people in the UK who claim this benefit of up to £109 a week and will now not have to face repeated medical assessments just so they can keep their payments.
Applicants for ESA had to take part in work capability assessments to find out if they were eligible and then tested again to check whether there had been any changes to their condition. Some people might have to be re-tested every three months, whereas for some claimants their retesting can be up to two years later.
People with conditions like autism, severe Huntingdons and congenital heart disease, are expected to be eligible for the payments without having to undertake any retesting. The criteria for what will be eligible will be agreed by health professionals.
But despite this good news, there will still be cuts of up to £73 for some new claimants from April 2017.
At the moment, those that are put in the work-related activity group, which are considered to be unable to work currently, but capable to make some effort to find work, receive up to £102.15 a week in ESA payments. From next year, payments will be cut to £73 for new claimants in this category, as the Government believe that not enough people in this group are moving into employment.
Some charitable organisations have been speaking out about this cut, saying ESA is a crucial benefit for those people who are unable to work, as it covered their basic living costs like food, clothes and heating. There is concern that some individuals with conditions such as autism will now have the struggle of trying to find work, which they may only lose later on due to health problems, and then have to go back to the lower end of the benefit allowance.
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