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Contribution based ESA – extra statutory scheme covers people moving between GB and NI

People who lost Employment and Support Allowance when moving between GB and Northern Ireland may be entitled to payment under a newly set up extra statutory scheme.


The Law Centre has been working for a number of clients who lost their Employment and Support Allowance when moving from England to Northern Ireland.

On moving, they were required to make fresh claims for ESA and were refused because they had not had recent national insurance contributions for Contribution-based ESA (ESA(C)) and were not entitled to Income-related ESA; for example because a partner is working.  This is because the reciprocal agreement between GB and Northern Ireland on Incapacity Benefit was not updated to include ESA(C).

Successful challenge

Mr Graham was affected under these rules.  He was placed in the support group for ESA in 2011 as he had been severely and permanently disabled in an industrial accident in 1993.  When his ESA(C) stopped after he returned to Northern Ireland he was dismayed and contacted the Law Centre for advice.

We asked the Department to amend the law and to introduce an extra statutory scheme to pay those affected by the failure to update the reciprocal agreement.

The Department has now set up an extra statutory scheme and has paid Mr Graham an amount equivalent to the ESA(C) he was entitled to.

Wider implications

The scheme is open to all those affected by this rule in similar circumstances.  The Department has now begun the process to amend the legislationto include contribution based ESA in the reciprocal arrangements regulations.

If you have clients who have been affected in by the failure to amend the reciprocal agreement, feel free to contact the Law Centre’s advice line for further information.



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