Ask CPAG Online - What conditionality will you have to satisfy while claiming ESA?

What is ‘conditionality’?

‘Conditionality’ is the term used to describe the mandatory activity you must undertake to prepare yourself for employment while you are claiming employment and support allowance (ESA).

ESA is subject to two types of conditionality:

  • the requirement to take part in ‘work-focussed interviews’ (WFIs) to discuss your work prospects (e.g. by identifying job opportunities, training and other activities which could enhance your prospects);1
  • the requirement to undertake ‘work related activity’ (WRA) to enhance your employment prospects (this can include training courses, skills assessments and work placements, but cannot include applying for or accepting employment).2

WFIs are normally conducted at your local jobcentre, but you can also be interviewed by telephone, or exceptionally, in your own home. There are no limits on the frequency of WFIs or the amount of WRA you can be required to undertake. A WFI can be deferred if it would not be of assistance or appropriate, and any WRA must be reasonable having regard to your personal circumstances. All WRA must be recorded in a written ‘action plan’, which you must be given a copy of.

You will be allocated a DWP ‘work coach’ when you claim ESA who can require you to attend WFIs and undertake specified WRA. In most cases, however, you will be referred to the Work Programme once you have been assessed as having’ limited capability for work’ (unless you are placed in the ‘support group’). The Work Programme is administered by contracted private and voluntary organisations who can require you to undertake WRA. You will usually be allocated a ‘personal adviser’ to work with you.

Are you exempt from conditionality? 

You are exempt from the requirement to attend WFIs if you are:

in the ESA ‘support group’ i.e. you have ‘limited capability for work related activity’; or

  • a lone parent with a child under one; or
  • starting or resuming work (or likely to do so) and a WFI would not assist you.

You are exempt from the requirement to undertake WRA if you are:

  • in the ESA ‘support group’; or
  • a lone parent with a child under three; or 
  • entitled to carer’s allowance or an ESA carer’s premium.