What is New Style Employment and Support Allowance?
There are 2 types of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – Contributory ESA and Income Related ESA which is means-tested. Contributory ESA is renamed New Style ESA when new claims are made after the full roll out stage of Universal Credit (UC) is reached. The rules for new style ESA are almost the same as for Contributory ESA. The benefit depends on having paid enough Class 1 or Class 2 National Insurance Contributions (paid by employed and self-employed people). The main difference is that New Style ESA is subject to the same rules as a UC claim meaning that there are tougher rules on sanctions, claimant responsibilities and commitments and different rules regarding overpayments.
New Style ESA
New Style ESA is paid if you have enough National Insurance Contributions and can either be claimed on its own or with a top up of Universal Credit (UC) if you live in a full service UC area and need to claim of other family members or housing costs, for example. In the latter case any New Style ESA received would be treated as income for the UC claim and deducted in full.
In practice it can be difficult to claim practically as the UC form does not specifically mention New Style ESA and DWP staff have at times been wrongly advising claimants that they are now in a full service UC area and can no longer claim ESA. This is correct if the claimant wishes to claim Income Related ESA but not if they are eligible for New Style ESA.
This is a very serious problem as it may mean that some claimants fail to get any benefit at all (eg if they have too much savings or a partner in full time employment which prevents a claim for UC). New Style ESA is paid for up to 12 months but indefinitely if the claimant is placed in the Support Group (known as Limited Capability for work related activity group under ESA). Those who are wrongly refused can miss out on up £110.75 per week.
How to claim New Style ESA
If you live in a full service UC area then you should claim by phoning 0800 328 5644 (option 2 then option 6)
You should be sent a form ESA1 (UC) usually by email.
If you are told you are unable to claim in this way then you can also request form ESA1(UC) from the local Job Centre.
If you think you have been wrongly refused New Style ESA you should seek advice as soon as possible.
If a New Style ESA claimant needs to top up their benefit this will be topped up with Universal Credit.