Income related employment and support allowance (ESA)

Last updated: 07/04/2021

No new claims can be made for this benefit. If you are getting income related employment and support allowance at the moment you will continue to do so until your circumstances change or you are invited to claim universal credit instead.

Employment and support allowance (ESA) is for people whose ability to work is limited due to a disability or ill-health. It pays for day to day living costs.

If you are getting income-related employment and support allowance the amount you receive may be reduced by any other income and/or savings you have.

To get employment and support allowance you will have been assessed and meet the following conditions:

  • you have a ‘limited capability for work’, which is due to a physical or mental health condition; and
  • you are at least 16 years old and have not reached pension age

You will have been assigned to one of two ‘groups’ depending on how your disability or illness affects you.

The support group

If you have an illness or disability that means you are unlikely to be able to work or prepare for work you will be in the support group. You can volunteer to take part in work focused interviews and work-related activity but do not need to. If you are in the support group, you will receive an additional amount of employment and support allowance. Terminally ill people will automatically go into the support group.

Employment and support allowance rates:

Single parent aged 16 or 17: £59.20

Single parent aged 18 or over: £74.70

Additional support component: £39.40

The work-related activity group

If you can take part in some preparation for work you will be in the work-related activity group. If you are in this group, you will have to complete a number of tasks and attend work focused interviews in order to continue to receive your full benefit. If you do not attend a work focused interview you must give a good reason within five working days of the date you are informed you missed the interview. If you do not give a good reason your benefit could be reduced (sanctioned). A good reason could include not having transport or childcare but accepting you have a good reason for not attending is at the discretion of the advisor.

Employment and support allowance rates:

Single parent aged 16 or 17: £59.20

Single parent aged 18 or over: £74.70

Additional work component: £29.70 (You will only get this if you started getting your ESA before 3 April 2017.)



You may qualify for additional amounts known as premiums. These include:

Enhanced disability premium: £17.20
Severe disability premium: £67.30

Premiums are affected by any other money you receive or savings you have.

Call the freephone Lone Parent Helpline for more details:

0808 801 0323

Penalties for not completing your work-related activity

A sanction is a loss of benefit which is applied when you are in the work-related activity group and you fail to complete the tasks agreed in your claimant commitment such as – attending a work-focused interview or completing a work-related activity. You will lose the personal allowance but not any premiums. The sanction will continue until you attend the interview or complete the activity, plus a further week if this is the first failure, an additional two weeks if this is a second failure (within 52 weeks of the first) or an extra four weeks if this is a third or subsequent failure (within 52 weeks).

If you are in the support group, you cannot be sanctioned.