Monday, 18 March 2013

Statement in response to Advice NI on Welfare Reform

In a response to the statement from Advice NI, a spokesperson from the Department for Social Development commented: "Whilst the statement from Advice NI is correct in that claimants will not receive any entitlement to Employment Support Allowance during the reconsideration period, this does not represent a change from existing arrangements for those claimants who choose to challenge a decision to disallow Employment Support Allowance by opting to have a reconsideration undertaken of the original decision.

“In these cases payment of Employment Support Allowance ceases until the outcome is known although the claimant is able to claim Job Seekers Allowance thereby ensuring they will receive payment of a social security benefit. If the outcome from the reconsideration process is in the claimant’s favour, then the entitlement to Employment Support Allowance is re-instated from the date of disallowance.

“The proposals in the Welfare Reform Bill currently going through the Assembly is for the introduction of a mandatory reconsideration process. This change is intended to help reduce the number of people who have to go to appeal by introducing a formal review stage allowing them to submit additional information and having the case reviewed by someone not involved in the original decision. This change means that in the future all claimants who are disallowed Employment Support Allowance must go through the reconsideration process before being able to progress to appeal.

“Whilst claimants who are disallowed Employment Support Allowance will still be entitled to claim Job Seekers Allowance whilst the reconsideration is taking place, the Department recognises the practical difficulties which claimants may experience in moving between benefits and discussions are continuing with the Department of Works and Pensions in London on the practical implications of this change.”

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