Guidance

New style Employment and Support Allowance

You may be able to claim new style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) with, or instead of, Universal Credit, depending on your National Insurance record.

Overview

You may be able to get new style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you’re ill and unable to work and any of the following apply:

  • you have 2 children or fewer, or no children
  • you are already claiming Universal Credit
  • you had a claim to Universal Credit within the last 6 months that ended due to high earnings

You will need to have a fit note and have paid or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions.

You can get new style ESA on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit.

If you claim both benefits the new style ESA you are paid will reduce your Universal Credit payment by the same amount.

If you have more than 2 children

If you have 3 or more children and are not already claiming Universal Credit, or returning to Universal Credit within 6 months of a previous claim that ended due to high earnings, you will not be able to get new style ESA.

You may be able to claim contribution-based or income-based Employment and Support Allowance or an alternative benefit instead, such as Income Support, along with Housing Benefit and Child Tax Credits.

Work Capability Assessment

You must have a Work Capability Assessment to help DWP understand how your illness or disability affects your ability to work. If you’re claiming both Universal Credit and new style ESA, you’ll only attend one Work Capability Assessment.

DWP will arrange the Work Capability Assessment for you.

You can claim new style ESA for up to 365 days. After 365 days, your claim will end and your work coach will talk to you about your options.

This time limit doesn’t apply if you’re assessed to have ‘limited capability for work and work related activity’ and placed in the support group (where you don’t have interviews with an adviser).

You’ll be informed of the outcome of your assessment and what to do next.

Differences between new style ESA and Universal Credit

The differences between new style ESA and Universal Credit are:

  • new style ESA is based on your National Insurance contributions, Universal Credit depends on your income.
  • new style ESA is paid to an individual, Universal Credit is a single household payment
  • new style ESA doesn’t take into account any savings you have, however, pension income is taken into account
  • if you have a partner who is working, their earnings, savings or other income does not affect your new style ESA payment
  • Universal Credit can include money for your rent or childcare costs, new style ESA doesn’t
  • new style ESA is paid every 2 weeks and Universal Credit is paid every month

You may get new style ESA even if you start work. There are limits on the number of hours you can work and the amount you can earn. Contact your work coach for more information.

Payment of new style ESA

New style ESA is paid at the end of every 2 weeks into your bank, building society or credit union account.

What you’ll get

Age Weekly rate
18 to 24 year olds up to £57.90
25 and over up to £73.10

After your Work Capability Assessment, if you can still get new style ESA, you’ll be placed in one of 2 groups.

Type of group Weekly rate
Work–related activity group up to £73.10
Support group up to £110.75

For each week you are paid new style ESA, you will be credited with a Class 1 National Insurance credit which counts towards State Pension and contributory benefits.

How to claim new style ESA

Claim new style ESA by calling:

Telephone: 0800 328 5644 (choose option 2, then option 6)
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Find out about call charges

If you are a Universal Credit claimant and manage your claim by telephone (you don’t have an online account)

If you manage your Universal Credit claim by telephone you can apply for new style ESA using the same telephone number you usually contact DWP on:

Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm

Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm

Find out about call charges

If you’re not eligible to claim Universal Credit because you have 3 or more children you may be able to claim contributory or income-related ESA instead.

Reclaiming new style ESA

In most cases you won’t be able to claim new style ESA if you have been found capable of doing some work after your Work Capability Assessment.

The main exceptions are if:

  • your current condition has got a lot worse
  • you’re claiming for a new condition
Published 7 December 2016
Last updated 12 December 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated to show that Universal Credit is now available everywhere in Great Britain.
  2. Universal Credit live service telephone helpline opening hours changed to 9am to 4pm.
  3. Added translation
  4. Added translation
  5. Added translation
  6. Added information about if you have more than 2 children.
  7. Updated the weekly amount you receive if you're in the Support group in line with changes to benefit rates for the 2018/2019 financial year.
  8. Explained that claimants will be placed in either the work-related activity group or the support group after their Work Capability Assessment instead of after 13 weeks. The timeframe can vary.
  9. Updated for changes to who can claim new style Employment and Support Allowance from 1 January 2018 if you don't live in a Universal Credit full service area.
  10. Updated guide with new 0800 freephone numbers for Universal Credit.
  11. Corrected the weekly amounts of new style Employment and Support Allowance for people who are still entitled after 13 weeks.
  12. First published.