New ESA Rules Take Effect Today

Same Difference

It all began with a telephone call. Earlier this month, Malcolm Parker, who has not worked since his spine collapsed three years ago, was rung out of the blue by an official from the Department of Work and Pensions. There was only one question: did his wife work more than 24 hours a week? Yes, said Parker, reasoning honesty was the best policy.

A fortnight later a letter dropped on the Parkers’ doormat. The department wrote bluntly to say his contributory employment and support allowance (ESA) would disappear on Monday.

Parker was taken aback. Having worked for 44 years in the construction trade and diligently paid his national insurance, he had expected to be protected should the worst happen. His wife Ruth was at first perplexed and then increasingly angry. Although her husband can visit the toilet by himself, with some difficulty, she comes home every lunchtime to feed and…

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