What is Employment and Support Allowance?

Employment and Support Allowance (often called ESA for short) is money paid by the government to individuals who are unable to work (or have a limited capacity for work) because of injury, illness or disability.

To be eligible for ESA you need to complete a Work Capability Assessment, to show that you are unable to work or your ability to work is limited.

For the first 13 weeks of a claim, the basic rate of ESA is £67.50. After 13 weeks, this may stay the same, or be reduced to £26.75 or £32.35, depending on the results of the Assessment.

There are two types of Employment and Support Allowance: Contribution-based and Income-based. The type of ESA you receive depends on how recently you have paid Class 1 National Insurance contributions, but the amount of money received is the same. You cannot claim Income-based ESA if you have savings worth £16,000 or more.

You cannot claim ESA if your partner is receiving Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance, or if you are receiving Statutory Sick Pay.

Income-based ESA is not taxable, but Contribution-based ESA counts as taxable income.