Thousands of people claiming Employment Support Allowance under paid by DWP:

A tribunal decided in 2015 that some claimants who converted from Incapacity Benefit to contributory Employment Support Allowance (ESA) between 2010 and 2014 weren’t awarded the right amount of ESA. This is because the DWP didn’t check if claimants were also entitled to income-related ESA.

The DWP has said:

”There are two main types of ESA:

  • Contribution-based, which is based on National Insurance contributions; and
  • Income-related, which is a means-tested benefit. Income-related ESA can be paid on its own or as a top-up to contribution-based ESA.

Extra payments, called premiums, are available only to qualifying people who are eligible for income-related benefits. These include the Enhanced Disability, Severe Disability, Carer, and Pensioner Premiums.

Largely between January 2011 and October 2014 some people receiving Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance had their claims converted to contributory ESA. However, the possibility of whether they may also have been entitled to income-related ESA was not considered for all cases. This means they may have missed out on the payment of premiums, such as the Enhanced Disability Premium

The DWP are reviewing all relevant claims to find out who was eligible for income-related ESA and to give them backdated arrears for the benefit”

The DWP originally said they would only backdate arrears to October 2014. But, a judicial review requested in July 2018 has determined that claimants should get payments backdated to when their ESA decision was first made.

The DWP will contact eligible claimants to ask for information about their finances at the time when they converted to ESA. They’ll use this to check eligibility for backdated arrears of income-related ESA.

The Child Action Poverty Group who mounted the latest legal challenge to the government thinks that something like 70,000 people may have been underpaid. These underpayment might amount to several thousands of pounds.

The DWP intend to contact all claimants by April 2019. You can either wait to be contacted or ask the DWP to review their claim sooner.

Any lump sums awarded will be disregarded as capital under the normal rules.

If you think you have been affected by this but are not awarded backdated arrears to when their ESA decision was made, you should request a mandatory reconsideration.

You can get help by contacting your local Citizens Advice.

For information about services in Salford go to

Tom Togher