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 live in a Universal Credit full service area.

You may also be able to get new style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you’re ill and unable to work, live anywhere else and are:

  • already claiming Universal Credit
  • returning to Universal Credit within 6 months of a previous claim

You will need to have a fit note and 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 any new style ESA you are entitled to will be deducted from your Universal Credit payment.

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
  • if you have a partner who is working, their earnings don’t 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 usually 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

If you get new style ESA, you will get Class 1 National Insurance credits. These count towards your State Pension and some other benefits.

In some circumstances you may only get these credits and no money. This is known as a ‘credits only’ claim.

How to claim new style ESA

The way you claim new style ESA depends on where you live.

If you live in a Universal Credit full service area

If you live in a Universal Credit full service area, you can 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 don’t live in a Universal Credit full service area

If you don’t live in a Universal Credit full service area, you can claim new style ESA by calling:

Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Find out about call charges

If you’re not eligible to claim Universal Credit in your area, then you won’t be able to claim new style ESA. 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 9 April 2018 + show all updates
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Updated guide with new 0800 freephone numbers for Universal Credit.
  5. Corrected the weekly amounts of new style Employment and Support Allowance for people who are still entitled after 13 weeks.
  6. First published.