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Citizens Advice responds to ESA benefit changes

24 August 2015

Citizens Advice has responded to a speech made by Iain Duncan Smith today announcing plans to reform Employment Support Allowance (ESA). The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions argued that the current system is too 'binary', splitting people into 'fit for work' and 'not fit for work' categories.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

"Employment Support Allowance isn't working which is why we have been calling for urgent reform.

"ESA is one of the most common issues we help with - last year we supported people with more than 280,000 ESA problems. The system has many faults and people are being let down by incorrect assessments and long delays so it is encouraging that the DWP is to review it.

"Helping people who can work into employment would be positive for them, and could boost the national economy. But it must be suitable and the review must look at the whole picture, including fixing the serious problems with capability assessments which make life harder for the most vulnerable."

Notes to editors

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To get advice online or find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  5. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.