'Misleading letters' - Universal Credit campaign

A number of constituents have contacted me recently about changes to the wording of the Department for Work and Pensions' (DWP) ‘fit notes’.  These are letters which are sent to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants' GPs and I appreciate the concerns that have been raised.  The Government is committed to ensuring all communications are clear, accurate and understandable.

Claimants can be paid ESA whilst appealing a decision, the rate of which is equivalent to that of Jobseeker's Allowance. In order for someone to be paid ESA pending an appeal, they need to provide the DWP with fit notes in order to be treated as having Limited Capability for Work until the appeal is determined. This does not apply when the claimant fails a second Work Capability Assessment or if the claimant's GP does not provide them with a fit note during the appeal period. In which case, the claimant would need to claim new style Jobseeker's Allowance or Universal Credit.

Fit notes letters do not dissuade GPs from issuing fit notes for ESA appeal purposes. However, the DWP has recognised that GPs have not found the letter clear on this point and are updating it with input from a number of sources including MPs, stakeholder organisations and GPs. A revised version is expected by the summer.

I hope this helps to reassure you of the DWP's ongoing work to ensure the welfare system is both efficient and compassionate.

30/04/19 - Please find below a link to a letter from the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work.


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Dear Colleague - ESA Fit Notes.doc 65.5 KB