Universal Credit: DWP alter rules for New Style Employment & Support Allowance – claim now

Universal Credit may be claimed by people who are struggling financially but New Style ESA can provide a contributory benefit for people who are ill, or have a health condition which limits their ability to work. It’s possible to receive it if the claimant has been paid or credited with enough National Insurance contributions in the two tax years leading up to the claim.


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New Style ESA may be a good option for some claimants as it does not face some of the limitations associated with Universal Credit.

Unlike Universal Credit, most income is not taken into account when a person applies.

It will also provide more regular income and it it’s claimed, the claimant will earn class one National Insurance credits, which will help towards a state pension.

In order to be eligible for New Style ESA, a claimant must have been working within the two or three years leading up to claiming and have made class one or two National Insurance contributions.

Universal Credit receivers used to be able to claim New Style ESA through their personal account page but this has now been changed.

On Friday May 15, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP (confirmed that Universal Credit claimants should now apply for New Style ESA by phone or directly online (not through their unique online account).

Claimants will usually need a fit or sick note from their doctor to claim but it’s possible to start a claim before they have one.

If a claimant has only recently become ill, they can self-certify for the first seven days.

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On top of this, claimant will need the following to apply:

  • Their National Insurance number
  • Their bank or building society account number and sort code
  • Their doctor’s name, address and telephone number
  • Details of their income if they’re working
  • The date their Statutory Sick Pay ends if they’re claiming it


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That final point is important as it is not possible to get New Style ESA if the claimant is getting Statutory Sick Pay from an employer.

A claimant can apply for New Style ESA up to three months before their Statutory Sick Pay ends.

Claimants may be required to attend a work capability assessment so the DWP can understand their illness, health condition or disability that affects their ability to work.

For claimants of both Universal Credit and New Style ESA, only one assessment will need to be attended.

People who already have face-to-face assessments booked in will not need to attend them at the moment, the DWP will contact these claimants to inform them of what to do.

Coronavirus has also affected the claiming process in other ways.

A claimant can apply for New Style ESA if they’re unable to claim Statutory Sick Pay and one of the following applies:

  • They or their child think they have coronavirus or they’re recovering from it
  • They or their child are self-isolating because they came into contact with someone who might have coronavirus
  • They have been told to stay home for at least 12 weeks by the NHS because they’re at risk of severe illness

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