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Check what you have to do in the ESA work-related activity group

This advice applies to Scotland

If the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decide you can get Employment Support Allowance (ESA), you’ll be put into either the:

  • support group
  • work-related activity group

Check your decision letter to see which group you’re in. It will depend on the information on your capability for work questionnaire and the results of your medical assessment.

If you're in the work-related activity group you might need to have work-focussed interviews and do activity that improves your chances of finding work. This is called 'work-related activity'. If you’re on new style ESA this might be called ‘work preparation’.

If you’re in the support group you don’t need to work, have work-focussed interviews or do work-related activity.

You might have a work-focussed interview after you've been placed in the group. If you do, you'll be contacted by a work coach from Jobcentre Plus who will talk to you about your situation. You’ll agree together what work-related activity you should do.

They’ll talk to you about things like:

  • your work history and qualifications
  • steps you could take to eventually help you to work
  • any practical support available to you

You might need more work-focussed interviews while you're getting ESA in the work-related activity group. The DWP will tell you if and when you need to go to work-focussed interviews.

Work-related activity includes things like:

  • basic maths or writing skills
  • confidence-building sessions
  • learning how to write a CV
  • trying new ways to manage your condition or disability

Not everyone has to have work-focussed interviews or do work-related activity. It depends on your situation and whether you’re on new style ESA or the old types of ESA. Old types are income-related ESA or contribution-based ESA.

If you're a single parent

If you’re a single parent with a child under 3 you won’t have to do work-related activity. You’ll still have to go to a work-focussed interview.

If you’re a single parent with a child under 1 you won’t need to do work-related activity or go to a work-focussed interview.

If you’re a single parent with a child between 3 and 13 you can ask to do work-related activity during normal school times. The DWP don’t have to agree to this. You’ll still have to go to work-focussed interviews.

If you’re on old-types of ESA and you’re a single parent with a child between 3 and 13, you’ll only have to do work-related activity during normal school hours. You’ll still have to go to a work-focussed interview.

If you're a carer

If you get old types of ESA

You won’t have to do work-related activity if you care for someone and get:

  • Carer’s Allowance
  • a carer’s premium as part of your ESA claim

You’ll still have to go to a work-focussed interview.

If you get new style ESA

You won’t have to do work-related activity or go to a work-focussed interview if you care for someone and:

  • get Carer’s Allowance
  • would qualify for Carer’s Allowance but don’t get it because your earnings are too high

You should go to any work-focussed interviews and do any work-related activity you’ve agreed to.

If you miss an interview or activity you should contact the DWP as soon as possible. If you’re on old types of ESA you must do this within 5 days. Use the telephone number on any of your ESA letters.

If you have a good reason for missing the interview or activity, your benefit might not be affected.

If you don't contact the DWP, or they don’t accept your reason, your ESA payments might be reduced. This is called a ‘sanction’. Check what happens when the DWP gives you a sanction.

If you think you’ve been put in the wrong group

You should ask the DWP to look at their decision again.

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