Incapacity benefit claims come under spotlight

The government insists those with genuine disabilities will not be affected
The government insists those with genuine disabilities will not be affected

By Peter Wozniak

The government is to begin the process of reassessing claimants of incapacity benefit in a series of pilot schemes.

Bringing claimants who can work but don't into the job market forms a key plank of the coalition's drive to bring down spending on welfare and increase employment.

Chris Grayling, the employment minister, praised the scheme, saying: "It's unacceptable that so many people have been written off to a lifetime on benefits and today marks the start of the journey back to work for thousands who have been cast aside.

"We know that many of the people trapped on incapacity benefits could and do want to work, but the current system doesn't allow them to.

"That's why we'll be reassessing everyone claiming incapacity benefits, starting in Burnley and Aberdeen today and the rest of the country from spring next year."

There remains concern however that the test being used doesn't take into account disabilities that may have no physical symptoms.

The system being trialled is points-based, meaning a claimant who satisfies a minimum criteria for being able-bodied and capable of work will be shifted from incapacity benefit to the smaller jobseekers' allowance.

Incapacity benefit currently costs £12.5 billion per year to run.

Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary has proposed replacing the current system of benefits with a universal credit designed to push people into work.

Mr Grayling insisted the government was not abandoning those with genuine disabilities:

"Everyone who can work will get the help and support they need to get a job. Those found too sick or disabled to work won't be expected to and will continue to receive help and support to lead fulfilling lives," he added.


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