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ESA was introduced in 2008. In 2011 the Department began reassessing
people claiming pre-existing incapacity benefits to see whether they
were eligible for ESA. The previous benefits included incapacity
benefit, severe disablement allowance and income Support.
In a written statement to the House of Commons, Secretary of State
for Work and Pensions David Gauke has confirmed that in 2013 he was made
aware of individual cases which were transferred in error to
contributory ESA, rather than to income-related ESA,
In these cases, incapacity benefit claimants had an unidentified
entitlement to additional benefits such as the enhanced disability
premium. These premiums are only payable to those on income-related
From 2014 additional DWP guidance was put in place to ensure all
claims transitioning from that point forward were more fully assessed
for both contributory and income-related ESA.
At the time officials did not identify the need to explore the
potential impact of the earlier error. This was reconsidered in the
light of analysis following the preliminary Fraud and Error statistics
published in May 2016.
As a result of a sampling exercise, the DWP estimates that around
75,000 claimants may have been underpaid - about 5% of those people who
moved over from incapacity benefits.