Unsuccessful Employment and Support Allowance claims: qualitative research

Document type
Barnes, Helen; Oakley, Joy; Stevens, Helen
Date of publication
1 July 2011
Research report; 762
Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion, Disabled people
Social welfare
Material type

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Employment and Support Allowance was introduced in October 2008 to replace old incapacity benefits. It provides financial support and personalised help for people who are unable to work, because of a health condition or disability.
This qualitative study, commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), was designed to provide a detailed understanding, from a customer perspective, of the views and subsequent experiences of people who apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) but whose claim is unsuccessful – either because their claim was closed by Jobcentre Plus or withdrawn by the customer before it was assessed, or because the customer was found fit for work and not entitled to ESA. Together, these groups make up 75 per cent of all ESA claim outcomes.

It is important to note that only customers who had not reported moving into work after their ESA claim ended – i.e. they had claimed another benefit, or were neither in work nor claiming benefits – are included in this research. In broad terms, the research explored why people withdrew their claims, or had them closed by Jobcentre Plus, as well as their activities and circumstances after the end of their claim. For those who claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), the research examined their views of the support they were receiving from the JSA regime.

Sixty people who had recently made an unsuccessful ESA claim were interviewed in March 2011 in two areas in the South East and West Midlands

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