Prepare for work or lose your benefits, long-term sick are told

The long-term sick will be forced to look for work or see their benefits cut, under government reforms.

Photo: PA

By , Political Correspondent 7:00AM GMT 17 Nov 2012

Currently an estimated 700,000 people apply for sickness benefit each year but are not required prepare themselves for returning to employment until they receive an official work capability assessment after three months.

More than 300,000 stopped claiming the benefit before they were assessed last year, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

But under plans to be introduced from 2013, anyone claiming Employment and Support Allowance because they are ill will face sanctions if they do not take steps to prepare for work.

They will be expected to maintain regular contact with Jobcentres and to look for employment opportunities while awaiting the assessment of their fitness for work.

The new arrangements, being incorporated into Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship Universal Credit welfare programme, will be seen by critics as another assault on state support for the sick and disabled.

However, officials insisted that it was necessary to bring sickness benefits into line with reforms to place conditions on benefits for people who are out of work.

The DWP said anyone claiming ESA under the new system would be given “immediate support to help them return to work” as soon as they are able, warning that long periods of unemployment can cause significant damage to long term careers.

Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said: “The overall aim of our welfare reforms is to ensure that people who can work get the support they need to find a job. This simple step will give people access to employment support months sooner than under the current system, so that the time spent waiting for a sickness assessment is not wasted.

“Individuals who are too ill to work will not be forced into a job, but for the first time, we will work with them to help them get a job when they are ready.”

Last year, ministers commissioned a major review of sickness absence, which costs the economy 140 million work days each year.

An estimated 700,000 people applied for the benefit, but only 389,000 were still in the system three months later to undergo a work capability assessment.

Many drop out of the benefit before the assessment and return to work because they have recovered.

More than half of claimants are found fit for work when the assessment takes place, often because their condition has improved since they first applied three months earlier.

A further 20 per cent are found capable of taking “steps into work” in the future with the proper support.

Work capability assessments have been highly controversial since they were first piloted under Labour in 2008 and later rolled out across the country under the coalition.

Critics claim the tests have been skewed towards forcing people back to work and the results have been challenged by thousands of disabled people.

The Daily Torygraph

18 thoughts on “Prepare for work or lose your benefits, long-term sick are told

  1. Beebs says:

    So, will it be die destitute, on the streets, or die crawling to work? There are many illnesses that renders one incapable of working, lasting for up to twenty years sometimes, what then???

  2. Philhow says:

    so the time spent waiting for sickness assessment is no wasted……use the time you spend dieing useful, you could join the tory party and post a few leaflets.
    Some body is going to see through this tory scam.
    JJ keep up the good work mate.

  3. kelpimare says:

    ……well now, mayhap we, the employers of this bullying club of millionaire protectionists, should get together and sack em all, cos they are definitely not fit for purpose I.e. to selflessly serve the 99% of the people, not tear up the rights of the 99% to further feather the nests of the already well-privileged 1%. Time for revolution, or a General Election……..

  4. DAVID A SHAW says:

    General election will do, these idiotic self serving uneducated morons do not realize that some people never get well, and will always be sick to use their word. The idiocy of these moronic individuals knows now bounds. And i am sick to death of a venture capitalist commenting on a subject he knows jack about. Can i join the cabinet , i have no political experience but it seems that is not required to be a part of welfare reform or in fact any kind of political decision making or goverment dept in this country .

  5. Aletheia says:

    Quote from Freud, “Individuals who are too ill to work will not be forced into a job, but for the first time, we will work with them to help them get a job when they are ready.” I hope this was a freudian slip as he should have also included those with severe disabilities!!

  6. Aletheia says:

    posted my comment without checking, meant to say I guess this was a freudian slip, not I hope it was, doh! there rests the case for one of my disabilities, cant type a sentence properlyLOL

  7. Daniel Linger says:

    This is even more sickening. Due to spina bifida and other complications (which I only found out about when I was 25) I’m at the situation where many days I can’t even leave my bed. I’m terrified of the the WCA when it eventually comes round my way, despite having a wealth of medical evidence ready for them (it took me 3 years to bombard them before to get my DLA in the first place).

    Now, it seems that’s not enough to worry about. I now have to consider being able to work and report despite NEVER being able to get better, only worse?

    It is abundantly clear they want to get rid of these benefits and care not one iota whether they kill the claimants in the process.

    This is absolute hell for me.

  8. Humanity2012 says:

    Excuse Me but this Dismal Regime has been Making People Un Employed in their
    Sick Cuts Mania

    It is a Crime against Humanity Pure and Simple to Inflict Misery upon the Poor and

    Stop the Waste of Billions of Pounds upon Nuclear Weapons the EU Tragedy and
    and Warmongering in Afghanistan

    When will People Stand Up to the Con Dems ?

  9. Purplewheels says:

    I still believe that in spite of these assurances by our government that I will be ‘put to work’ when I am truly too sick and disabled to do so. I have chronic illnesses and disabilities caused by those illnesses and would welcome the opportunity to work if only I could. Why are they too stupid to see that trying to survive on Incapacity benefit is almost impossible and therefore a driver of those able to return to work. We don’t need any other legislation we are living in poverty anyway. This government are the most right-wing that they are in danger of becoming fascists; and we thought that a coalition would temper their power – Nick Clegg you should hang your head in shame as should the rest of your party – you have sold us down the river!!

  10. Pierre Lapin says:

    Firstly my deepest symapathies to the disabled, as if life isn’t hard enough for you to become the latest target of the current junta’s ‘hate-spin’ is beyond unfair, especially in the light of the same regime shutting down Remploy establishments.
    This batch of tories really are far worse than Thatcher’s (is there really something positive to say on her?). They are all career politicians with little or no experience of the outside world, and have no idea what the 99% live like, let alone the poorest 10%. The assertion that we are heading slowly into fascism is not fantastical, ATOS are in charge of eugenics, IDS is engaged in starving the unemployed, Theresa Mae in charge of whittling down human rights. david cameron mentioning today of lessening the rights of appeal. I’ve just been studying Hitler and the parallels are disturbing.. Unfortunatly the majority are burying their heads in the sand, or worse still, believing that they are informed via the daily mail etc and the ‘running scared’ BBC. It’s a very scary situation when an organisation that ‘we own’ is more biased than a privatley owned one, Channel 4. We are indeed on a very slippery slope.
    With all the rhetoric against jobseekers spouted as it is, the one question that never gets answered or asked is “But where are the jobs in the first place?”…

  11. kj says:

    i got a letter through this morning about the changes to esa wrag from dec 2012, states i may have to carry out work related activities that your advisor thinks will help you be able to return to work in the future. If you do not attend and take part in these interviews or do the activities you are asked to do, without a good reason, your payment can be reduced by£14.07 a week, rising to£28.15 a week after four weeks, until you comply. We call this a sanction
    bloody control freaks

  12. Lynn says:

    What I find amazing is that it’s ironic I was MEDICALLY RETIRED from Employment service. The very office they may send me to!!

  13. Legin101 says:

    Prepare for work when you’re sick – UTTER C**P!

    I receive ESA as I have multiple and complicated potentially life-threatening conditions – I am under several different hospital departments where I am two times a week on average which leaves me exhausted!. I have NO TIME to ‘prepare’ for any sort of work…

    I spend the tiny percentage of energy I have battling… Battling the DWP and forms… Battling my health… Battling against financial issues and bills… Battling to do the tiniest of daily tasks… Battling ongoing ceaseless paperwork for my blue badge, congestion charging, medication etc etc… Battling against wrongly issued parking tickets on my blue badge… I could go on and on and on!!

    These people have absolutely no idea of what living with illness is like and they absolutely disgust me. This country is run by a corrupt and heartless rich elite, and run entirely for this corrupt and heartless rich elite and it has to stop!

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