New benefits system finds thousands fit for work

People being assessed for their ability to work are overwhelmingly being found fit and able to look for a job, according to new figures.

The latest statistics for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) applications show that three-quarters of applicants are being found fit for work or are stopping their claim before their assessment period has been completed.

Minister for Employment, Chris Grayling says, "The vast majority of people who are applying for these benefits are being found fit for work or have stopped their claim. These are people who under the old system would have been abandoned on incapacity benefits. It is a clear indication of why reform is so urgently needed. This is exactly why we are going to reassess everyone claiming incapacity benefits for their ability to work, from this October. They will now be given the support they need to get back to work and will be expected to look for work if they are able to do so."

The new ESA system was designed to give greater support to people judged able to return to some form of work. A revised fitness-for-work test, known as a work capability assessment, was introduced at the same time for all new claimants, which aimed to discover what people could do rather than what they could not.

Laura Weir of the Multiple Sclerosis Society says: "Under this assessment system, more and more people are being found fit to work when they are living with severe health symptoms and disabilities.” Other charities argue that seriously ill and disabled people are being pressured into being fit for work or withdrawing their claim, to keep figures down.

Whatever you believe on the figures, the facts are that the state is going to provide less and less support and the argument for considering critical illness and income protection insurance is much greater.

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