Nearly 40% of incapacity benefit claimants have been reassessed as being fit for work, according to the Government.
The figures, released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), “justifies the Government’s decision to reassess all people on the benefit”, according to employment minister Chris Grayling.
About 1.5million claimants are being reassessed and will either be moved on to Employment Support Allowance (ESA) – which provides financial help to people who are unable to work because of illness or disability – or found fit to work as part of the Government’s reform of the welfare system.
Figures for the first 141,100 incapacity benefits claimants to start the reassessment process show 37 per cent of those whose claims have been concluded have been found fit for work.
The remaining 63 per cent of claimants were entitled to ESA. Of those 34% were placed in the Work Related Activity Group, where they will receive personalised help and support to help them prepare for a move into suitable work in the future. The remaining 29% were placed in the Support Group and will receive unconditional financial support and will not be expected to work.
Mr Grayling said: “These first figures completely justify our decision to reassess all the people on incapacity benefits. To have such a high percentage who are fit for work just emphasises what a complete waste of human lives the current system has been.
“We know that for many it will be a long haul back to work but it’s much better to help them on the journey than to leave them on benefits for the rest of their lives.”
However, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said the results were “hardly surprising” given that they are “specifically designed to make fewer people qualify for disability benefits”.
He said: “These tests have deemed terminally ill patients and people with severe disabilities as ‘fit to work’, are costing taxpayers a small fortune in successful legal appeals and serve no clear benefit to the very people they are supposed to help.
“The point of a fitness test should be to identify whether someone is really fit to work, not to kick people off benefits whatever the cost.”