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Impact of new guidance re esa regn's 29 and 35 (mental health)

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I was recommended to seek some feedback from members of this knowledgeable and helpful forum.


If I am repeating information on previous posts I apologise, but I feel that this topic is of importance to many ESA claimants, particularly those with mental health problems.


My partner suffers from a serious mental impairment and has been on IB/ ESA for some 7 years. She is currently in the ESA Support Group under the exceptional circumstances provision as per Sn's 29 and 35 of the ESA Regulations. This has been a legitimate route into the ESA Support Group and one which has become highly prevalent over the period 2013-2015.


As referenced in various articles earlier this year the DWP and Maximus prepared new guidance targeted at making it far more difficult for Maximus Health Care Professionals (HCP's) and DWP Decision Makers (DM's) to justify placing a claimant with a severe mental impairment in to the Support Group, and in the alternative place them in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG).


The basis of the argument appears to be that it is ultimately better for a person's mental health to be involved in work related activities. A more cynical view may be that the DWP are fearful that the reliance on Sn's 29 and 35 of the ESA Regulations was too prevalent and that substantial cost savings could be made by substantially reducing the number of claimants placed in the Support Group. For example, some two hundred thousand claimants on Contribution Based ESA, if transferred from the Support Group into the WRAG, would lose their entitlement after one year. Unless i am mistaken that would lead in itself to cost saving of some £1.2 billion per year.


I also understand that Maximus have been instructed to have some 75% of claims assessed on a face to face basis. Under ATOS this was only 50%.


My queries are as follows :


1) Are my concerns as expressed above legitimate and/or accurate ?

2) Given that the new guidance re ESA Regn's 29 and 35 has been in place for some 11 months have any forum members either directly or indirectly experienced the impact of the new guidance ? The first link below indicates that there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of claimants with severe mental health impairments being placed in the Support Group as a result of the new guidance.

3) Does the guidance apply to just new ESA claimants or does it extend to current ESA claimants when they are being re-assessed ?

4) Are there any ongoing appeals , or have there been successful appeals, re the application by the DWP of the new guidance ?

5) Are more claimants being forced into attending Face to Face assessments ?

6) Out of interest have any members in the ESA Support Group had to wait longer than say 3 years to be re-assessed ?


Look forward to hearing your views.


P.S I have some interesting links re the above topic, but as a new member I am not yet authorised to add them to this thread. I will upload them once I am authorised to do so.


First thread is as follows :




Second thread is a related DWP memo :




Third thread details background to introduction of the new guidance :



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Another link re the same topic.




Have any members been impacted by the new guidance re the criteria to be placed in the Support Group as a result of the risk of substantial harm ?

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