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From incapacity benefit to employment and support allowance: social sorting, sickness and impairment and social security

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2010
JournalPolicy Studies
Number of pages18
Original languageEnglish


This article focuses upon the introduction of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) as a replacement for the main income replacement benefit, Incapacity Benefit (IB), for sick and/or disabled people in Britain. The article argues that the process of claiming ESA, a process that is dependent upon medicalised perceptions of capability to work and which is aimed at managing the perceived economic and social costs of sick and impaired people, is a means of sorting sick and/or disabled people into subgroups of claimants. The article goes on to discuss the implications of this observation with regard to explanations of the disadvantages that sick and/or disabled people face and their implications for the income of such people. The article concludes that because the shift from IB to ESA is premised upon a number of mistaken assumptions, it represents a retrograde development for people who are sick and/or who have impairments.