Backlog of assessments for ESA. Double the passport backlog, but none of the coverage

Via the Vox Political blog, I learn that it was admitted yesterday by the DWP that there was a backlog of 700,000 assessments for ESA claims. ESA is Employment and Support Allowance, a sickness benefit for those unable to work. 400,000 of the 700,000 backlog are new claims – that is people who feel they are too sick to work have lodged a claim for ESA, but have not had their claim assessed. While they wait, they have to make do with a lower level of benefit. The longer they have to wait to be assessed, the more anxious they are likely to become, risking exacerbating their health problems. The risk of falling into serious hardship also increases the longer they have to wait. The remaining 300,000 will be existing ESA claimants awaiting re-assessment of their claims. Any delay there brings with it the stress and worry of not knowing whether the outcome of this reassessment may mean their ESA is removed altogether.

I raise this now because at the same time, this week there has been wall to wall coverage of the Passport Offices backlog of about 300,000 passport applications. I don’t want to diminish the seriousness of this issue. Delays in processing applications could cause people to miss holidays they had saved up for, to miss weddings, funerals, or job interviews. It needs sorting out. At the same time though, it doesn’t seem in the same league as the ESA backlog, and yet a search for “Passport Office backlog” on Google News yields 13,400 results, while “ESA claims backlog” shows only 7 results.

The Labour Party have been jumping up and down about the passport issue (even though they had the same problems while in office), but on ESA (with a couple of exceptions), they have been silent. I suppose it isn’t surprising they go for the easy option, but it is rather sad.

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5 thoughts on “Backlog of assessments for ESA. Double the passport backlog, but none of the coverage

  1. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    I reblog this not for the mention of VP but for the comment about the Labour Party at the end. If anyone from the leadership of my party would like to discuss Labour’s apparently divergent policy with regard to these two issues, please get in touch.

  2. Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Frankie Boyle in his interview with Chunky Mark, the Artist Taxi Driver, remarked that part of this problem was the culture of silence about disability. People simply don’t talk about it, and so it becomes a silent presence, or absence in the culture, which the government can use to bully and discriminate the disabled. As for the passport issue, I expect Labour’s concentration on it is because it’s more of an immediate vote winner than processing ESA assessments. Some of the claimants of which, are liable to be accused of malingering by Right-wing papers like the Mail, Express, Torygraph. And it was, of course, Labour’s Keith Vaz who arranged for a very swift grant of British passports to the Mittal brothers after they donated to Labour.

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