'˜No reassessments for those with chronic illnesses'

Sickness benefits claimants will no longer have to go through reassessments to keep their payments if they suffer from chronic illnesses, the Work and Pensions Secretary is to announce.
Damian GreenDamian Green
Damian Green

Employment Support Allowance (ESA) will continue automatically for those who have lifelong, severe health conditions with no prospect of improvement, Damian Green said.

The testing process, which includes reassessing conditions every six months, has come under intense criticism for failing some of the most seriously ill and disabled.

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But the reforms will help end the anxiety and financial insecurity that claimants may have felt, Mr Green, who will unveil the plans at the Conservative party conference, said.

The criteria will be drawn up with health professionals but illnesses such as severe Huntingdon’s, autism or a congenital heart condition, are among those that are likely to qualify for continuous payments without reassessment.

Mr Green said: “We are building a country that works for everyone - not just the privileged few. A key part of that is making sure that all those who are able to work are given the support and the opportunity to do so. But it also means ensuring that we give full and proper support to those who can’t.

“That includes sweeping away any unnecessary stress and bureaucracy - particularly for the most vulnerable in society.

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“If someone has a disease which can only get worse then it doesn’t make sense to ask them to turn up for repeated appointments. If their condition is not going to improve, it is not right to ask them to be tested time after time. So we will stop it.”