What you'll get

You can get financial support and work-related support through Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Financial support

You’ll normally get the assessment rate for 13 weeks after your claim. This will be:

  • up to £57.90 a week if you’re aged under 25
  • up to £73.10 a week if you’re aged 25 or over

After that, if you’re entitled to ESA, you’ll be placed in one of 2 groups and will receive:

  • up to £73.10 a week if you’re in the work-related activity group
  • up to £110.75 a week if you’re in the support group

You might get more ESA in the work-related activity group if you applied before 3 April 2017.

If you’re in the support group and on income-related ESA, you’re also entitled to the enhanced disability premium at £16.40 or £23.55 a week.

You may also qualify for the severe disability premium at £64.30 or £128.60 a week.

If the assessment takes longer than 13 weeks your benefit will be backdated to the 14th week of the claim.

The benefit cap

The benefit cap limits the total amount of benefit you can get. It applies to most people aged 16 or over who have not reached State Pension age.

Some individual benefits are not affected, but it may affect the total amount of benefit you get. The cap will not affect you if you’re in the support group.

Following your Work Capability Assessment you’ll be placed in either the work-related activity group or support group if you’re entitled to ESA.

You must go to regular interviews with an adviser who can help with things like job goals and improving your skills.

Support group

You do not have to go to interviews, but you can ask to talk to a personal adviser. You’re usually in this group if your illness or disability severely limits what you can do.

How long you’ll get ESA for

‘New style’ and contribution-based ESA last for 365 days if you’re in the work-related activity group.

There’s no time limit if you’re in the support group, or if you’re getting income-based ESA.

Benefits sanctions

Your ESA can be reduced if you do not go to interviews or do work-related activity as agreed with your adviser. This reduction can continue for up to 4 weeks after you restart the interviews or activity.

You’ll get a ‘sanction letter’. Tell your ESA adviser if you have a good reason for missing the interview.

You’ll get another letter if the decision is made to give you a sanction. Your benefit will only be affected once a decision has been made.

You should contact your local council immediately if you claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction. They’ll tell you what to do to continue getting support.

If you get a sanction you can:

You will not get a sanction if you’re in the support group.

Hardship payments

You may be able to get a hardship payment if your income-related ESA has been reduced because of a sanction or fraud penalty. You do not have to pay it back.

A hardship payment is a reduced amount of your ESA (usually 60% or 80% of the basic rate, depending on your circumstances).


You can get a hardship payment if you cannot pay for rent, heating, food or other basic needs for you or your family.

You must be 18 or over.

How to claim

Speak to your Jobcentre Plus adviser or work coach to find out how to claim a hardship payment.

Jobcentre Plus
Telephone: 0800 169 0310
Textphone: 0800 169 0314
NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 169 0310
Welsh language: 0800 328 1744
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

How you’re paid

All benefits, pensions and allowances are paid into your bank, building society or credit union account.

Payments over Christmas and New Year

You might get your ESA payment early if it’s due between 24 December 2018 and 2 January 2019.

Get budgeting help

Contact the Money Advice Service to get help and advice with budgeting.

You can also apply for a Budgeting Loan if you’ve been on income-related ESA for at least 6 months.