Third of incapacity benefit claimants judged fit to work

More people are being deemed fit to work
More people are being deemed fir to work

By Charles Maggs

Over a third of all those assessed for incapacity benefits between December last year and February this year were fit for work, according to government figures.

One hundred and forty thousand people were assessed during that time and only 25% were thought to require unconditional help, meaning it is unlikely they will ever be fit to return to work.

Employment minister Mark Hoban suggested that reassessing incapacity claimants was essential to stop people being trapped in poverty.

"The old incapacity benefit system condemned too many people to a life on benefits without any hope of ever going back to work. This was simply wrong," he said.

"By reassessing everyone for ESA we can help thousands of people move from benefits and back into work if they are capable while giving unconditional support to those who need it."

It is widely accepted that governments of all colours had encouraged people to move or stay on incapacity benefits in order to make the number of people unemployed and looking for work appear lower.

Nearly 40% of those assessed were placed in work related activity groups (WRAGs), as they are currently not well enough to work, but it is likely they will be in the near future.

But the reassessment process has been criticised by some campaigners who even suggest that it has driven some claimants with mental illness towards suicide.

Neil Coyle of the charity Disabled Rights UK said the problem needs to be addressed quickly.

"The government is cutting direct support for thousands of disabled people and using a process to do so which is unfit for purpose," he commented.

"The assessment process for out of work benefits needs urgent improvement to ensure genuine needs are identified properly and to avoid further tragic consequences."


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