Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)


This briefing provides NHS employees with information on Employment Support Allowance and the attendant Work Capability Assessment. The Work Capability Assessment is one area of UK government benefit changes that directly involves NHS staff and other health practitioners.

What is happening?

If ill or disabled, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) provides:

  • financial support for people deemed unable to work
  • personalised support for those able to work

You can apply for ESA if you’re employed, self-employed or unemployed

What is new?

People claiming other benefits like Income Support or Incapacity Benefit will be will be transfered at some point to ESA if not able to work. New applications will automatically use the ESA process and materials.

Who can get it?

  • 16 or over and under state pension age, and
  • Can't work because of sickness or disability, and
  • Not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), and
  • Have satisfied certain tests, the principal one being the Work Capability Assessment

Who will be affected?

People with an illness or disability, whether employed, self-employed or unemployed

Entitlement detail, claims and application process are complex.

More detailed information is available from Citizen's Advice here. The Citizen's Advice website provides extensive and updated information on ESA and other benefits. Contact details for local CAB centres are given on the Lothian Advice page of this site.

Last Reviewed: 10/07/2013