The 2015 ESA trials: a synthesis of qualitative research with claimants

Newton B, Sainsbury R | Research Report 933 | Department for Work and Pensions | Aug 2017

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This report for the Department for Work and Pensions presents findings from qualitative research with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants participating in three labour market trials, led by Jobcentre Plus.

The trials aimed to test whether an increase in work-related support could improve soft outcomes as well as help claimants to make progress towards and into the labour market.

The trials were:

  • Voluntary Early Intervention  core model and variants; namely, Back Pain Pilot and Occupational Health Advice  to support Work Coaches. This trial and its variants intended to engage claimants in the period before their Work Capability Assessment (WCA).
  • More Intensive Support which provided an increased level of support to those ESA claimants who had completed the Work Programme.
  • Claimant Commitment (CC) which offered ESA claimants the opportunity to negotiate a CC, which typically forms part of Universal Credit claimant experience. This trial targeted claimants pre- and post-WCA as well as those who had completed the Work Programme.

The research reported here is part of a wider evaluation conducted by the DWP which included quantitative monitoring and staff research related to the three trials, and an impact assessment of two of them.

pointer arrowA summary of the report is also available