Almost one million people will be stripped of their incapacity benefit payments and forced to look for jobs under major reforms to the welfare system over the next three years, research has found.
The Coalition’s tougher rules on who can claim incapacity allowances will be felt most strongly in Labour’s heartlands of the north of England, Scotland and Wales, according to the study, which criticised the plan.
The report from Sheffield Hallam University, in the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s constituency, warned that that “vast numbers” of people will be impoverished and left in distress as a result of the reforms.
Over the next three years, major changes are being introduced to incapacity benefit, including a tougher medical test for claimants, the re-testing of existing recipients of payments, and a limit on the length of time individuals are entitled to non-means tested benefits.
Disabled groups and charities have claimed the new tests are stigmatising the disabled and mentally-ill as “scroungers” in order to save money from the welfare bill.
Ministers insist that the reforms are not an attempt to stop “scroungers” but will help more people currently deemed unable to work find jobs.
The Sheffield Hallam report, which analysed pilot schemes and the Department for Work and Pensions’s own calculations, found that the impact of the reforms has so far “barely been felt”.
The current total of 2.6 million people on incapacity benefit will fall by about one million by 2014, under the reforms, although this is not a sign of “widespread fraud” in the existing system, according to the study.
Professor Steve Fothergill, co-author of the report, said: “The large numbers that will be pushed off incapacity benefits over the next two to three years are entirely the result of changes in benefit rules.
“The reduction does not mean that there is currently widespread fraud, or that the health problems and disabilities are anything less than real.”
He said the Coalition was presiding over reforms that will impact “principally on individuals and communities outside its own political heartlands”.
Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, Easington in County Durham, Liverpool and Glasgow are expected to be hit 10 times harder than for example Kingston upon Thames in London or Wokingham in Berkshire, the study found.
Prof Fothergill said the “most far-reaching changes to the benefits system for at least a generation” would “impoverish vast numbers of households and cause untold distress in countless more”.
“The incapacity benefit numbers need to be brought down, but this is not the way,” he said.
Chris Grayling, the employment minister, said the current system had seen “millions” of people “written off for years” and given no help to find jobs.
“That’s why we are retesting people to see if they have the capacity to work,” he said. “Our changes will make sure those in genuine need get more support and those who could and should be working are given the opportunity to do so.
“For those that need additional help our new work programme is up and running and will tailor support to people’s needs so that they can overcome whatever barriers they face.”
8 thoughts on “1 million to lose incapacity benefits under Coalition reforms”
“The co-author of the report, professor Steve Forthergill, said: “The large numbers that will be pushed off incapacity benefits over the next two to three years are entirely the result of changes in benefit rules – the introduction of a new tougher medical test and, in particular, the more widespread application of means-testing from next April onwards. The reduction does not mean that there is currently widespread fraud, or that the health problems and disabilities are anything less than real.”
This figure of a million was set before ESA was introduced Just look at Freud and Gregg in 2008. The point of its introduction was to reduce people on IB by a million and it was stated very clearly back then. Neither were they claiming fraud but what they blamed “dependency”. The WRAG group was to be subjected to symptom management programmes delivered by unqualified personnel by private companies or a nurse if you were lucky. So the best qualified consultants could not cure us but these people could get us “fit for work”. So really they are saying we know you are genuinely sick and disabled but that does not mean you are not “fit for work”. Obviously the politicians were happy to whip up the frenzy by making people out to be scroungers and cheats but giving themselves a get out clause when challenged by saying we did not deny these people were sick and disabled but all we wanted to do was help them back into work and include them in society rather than writing them off. The condems are doing nothing that was not already outlined by Labour. They are all as bad.
some aspects of the impending Incapacity Benefit reform.
It is of particular concern that:
(i) as far as ME/CFS is concerned (and in general), the proposed psychiatric “rehabilitation” regimes ie. CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and GET (graded exercise therapy) that are to be imposed on UK claimants are poorly researched; they have already been shown to be of no lasting benefit, and they may be harmful: in four surveys of a total of 3,074 ME/CFS patients, 77% of those who had tried CBT found that it either made no difference or made things worse, and of the 1,467 patients who had tried a graded exercise “rehabilitation” regime, 48% found it to be the most harmful intervention
(ii) financial compulsion will rob claimants of their right to give free consent to medical treatment
(iii) the treatment regime of the patient’s own doctor will be overridden
(iv) patients with no psychiatric history will be forced to attend mental health units
(v) the psychiatrists advising the DWP who advocate this strategy have an undeclared financial conflict of interest: many are medical advisers to insurance companies
(vi) in addition, Professor Simon Wessely is involved with PRISMA, a multi-national healthcare company working with insurance companies to arrange “rehabilitation” programmes for those with ME/CFS. PRISMA claims to have developed a “unique treatment programme” for “hopeless” cases (in which it specifically includes ME/CFS). In the PRISMA Company Information, Wessely is listed as a Corporate Officer and as a member of the Supervisory Board; in order of seniority, he is higher than the Board of Management. Funding of these “rehabilitation” regimes by PRISMA has already begun in the UK. It is of concern that Wessely is promoting and recommending a regime that is known to be harmful for those with authentic ME/CFS and that is provided by a company of whose Supervisory Board he is a member
(vii) in relation to ME/CFS, the unproven information upon which the DWP approach relies has been criticised in a Report commissioned by the New Zealand Ministry of Health
(viii) recent briefings on reform of Incapacity Benefit indicate
that irrespective of their mental health status, claimants will be offered psychotherapy (Observer, 20th November 2005)
· that claimants who decline compulsory “rehabilitation” (because they may be physically too sick ) will be refused benefit (Independent, 27th December 2005).
Senior Psychiatrists collude with Medical Insurers to classify ME/CFS as a psychiatric disorder.
I am looking into all of this in my PhD. The majority of govt reports were written by economists like Gregg and financiers/ ex-bankers like Freud. The medical input was primarily psychosocial and had links with insurance companies. Any other type of “expert” evidence was ignored as was the input of patient groups and organisations such as they CAB although they were listed in the consultation section with well chosen quotes
Ha! yes indeed – Ex-bankers like Freud who wrote that when he was in the City in the eighties, that the city boys “made up the rules”!
Wessely is no longer involved with Prisma anymore – but that he was in the past is incontrovertable. Mansel Aylward is a central figure in the Welfare to Work Policy for many years.
EVERYTHING this NeoCon ConDem ‘government’ is doing reads like this : Social Darwinism = Eugenics = Nazism.
This is bad lot…extreme right-wing sociopathic megalomaniacs of the worst kind. They make Thatcher look like The Fairy Godmother.