Incapacity tests reject 37% of claimants

Sign a0bove disabled parking bay 1.5 million people will be reassessed by spring 2014

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More than a third of incapacity benefit claimants being reassessed for the new Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) have been deemed fit to work.

Of the first 141,100 claimants reviewed since last April, 37% would no longer be paid the benefit, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said.

Meanwhile 29% will continue being paid the ESA and will not be expected to work.

And 34% will receive the new benefit but go on a back-to-work programme.

The controversial reviews started across the UK last April and will eventually cover 1.5 million incapacity benefit claimants by early 2014.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the official figures justified the government's decision in 2010 to press ahead with the wholesale review of incapacity benefit claimants.

These involve the claimants going through the work capability assessments (WCA) that are applied to new applicants.

"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," the minister said.

"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."

Start Quote

There are still deep flaws with the assessment”

End Quote Richard Hawkes Scope

However the TUC's general secretary, Brendan Barber, said the test was designed purely to kick people off benefits, "whatever the cost".

"It's hardly surprising that a test specifically designed to make fewer people qualify for disability benefits is passing more people as 'fit to work'," 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."


ESA became the new benefit on 31 March 2011 for all new claimants who are unable to work due to incapacity or illness.

Anyone barred from claiming ESA would still be able to claim Jobseeker's Allowance if they remained unemployed, said a spokeswoman for the DWP.

Richard Hawkes, of the disability charity Scope, said the latest statistics told only a partial story.

"There have been continuing problems with the work capability assessment which has used a tick box-style assessment to assess people's fitness for work," he said.

"Up to 40% of appeals against a WCA decision have been found in favour of the claimant, suggesting there are still deep flaws with the assessment."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    #24 Dal

    People never cease to amaze me how they can drag bankers into any subject matter to blame for absolutely anything. In doing so they are proving they obviously have some mental health issues of their own of such a severe delusional/paranoid nature, they will qualify easily for the incapacity benefit!

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    The government has spent a lot of money trying to distinguish people who can work from people who can't. It would have been cheaper to distinguish people who wish to work from those who have no intention of doing so. If the long-term unemployed had been moved into chaper housing, this would have freed up housing for low-paid workers to live near their work places.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Atos a private company not fit for purpose. has the government mandate, to throw people off sick benifits to cut cost . How many they passed fit for work have died? How many court cases' are still in the pipeline? How many will go to europe court of human rights and win ???and how many extra millions will the Tory/libdem government payout????

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    This is all well and good but as a TV programme has shown there are functionaries who's great delight is to cause hardship , these people have always been there and still are . I have been the victim of a missclassification but not in the UK Done properly what is proposed is necessary.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Yes, if people are genuinely able to work then they should - no question.

    My concern is that people with a period of disability on their employment record would find it even harder (and heaven knows, it's hard enough normally) to get a job. So, taking people off disability benefit may merely result in transferring them to unemployment benefit. I think it's called passing the buck!

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    I know someone on Incapacity. They have told me that those with genuine conditions have trouble being assessed as such because they try at the assessment. Those cheating the system put it on, hence increasing their chances of getting the benefit.

    Also, as has been said, it doesn't take into account cyclic conditions, or the several days after the assessment when they can't get out of bed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    I am surprised the number is only 37 percent,this benefit has been abused for years,you see people all the time with walking sticks who just wave them around not using them to support themselves,it's about time it was
    stopped,with improved health service and heath and safety it is impossible to have this number of people claiming benefit

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Is this the result of the ATOS Lima system , which GP's refused to recognise as not being fit for purpose and backed off from signing people off on the results of this questionnaire? Who is signing these people off? What medical qualifications do they have? We all know there are people who are playing the system, but 37%..!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    I think these tests are aimed at the group of people who seem to be able to swing the lead at every given opportunity and I suspect that it is this group that is being hit, good. I have no sympathy with those in society who blag bad backs etc etc and sap off the rest of us, your chickens are coming home to roost and not before time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    If you are genuinely incapacitated you will get help, and if you are found to be capable of work; you should be delighted to be fit.
    If some people (persih the thought) are just avoiding working because the system allowed them too, then they will be disappointed, but thats good news for the other people working and paying taxes to support the genuinely needy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    What I take from this set of statistics is that only 29% have previously been correctly assessed. 34% are in a temporary state of disability, but should be able to work towards health again. And 37% have previously hoodwinked the Benefits people. Doubtless some will still claim unfairly and some will be given no claim when they should have, but this statistic is actually a good sign, IMHO.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    The idea of getting these people back into work is great but 1) there needs to be work
    2) employers need incentitives to employ them
    3) there needs to be training for the types of jobs they can do
    The government has made a total mess which is going to cost the tax payer quite a lot unless they can get the bill through not allowing legal aid for benefits through

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    If you want my opinion, they seem to pull up the genuine claimants and the cheats just slip through unscathed. I have a no doubt there are loads of claimants who maybe need some help, but really would be able to do a day's work, but choose not to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    After Pensions and Healthcare WELFARE at 59 Billion is the largest single item of the UK Budget.
    It is quite right that this is looked at and if you chart disability benefit for the last 20 years it is growing much faster than the population so there is something wrong.
    No chance that Unions/Labour would deal with it.
    As long as there is an appeal process then whats the problem?

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    A reminder to those commenting on DLA that it is a different benefit to ESA, and one which is paid irrespective of the ability to work.

    However, it is also next on the government list to be destroyed. It will be replaced by PIP, which aims to reduce payments by 20%, even though DLA fraud is only 0.5%.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    As somebody who worked as a benefit adjudication officer in the DSS in the 1990's I am surprised at how low the 37% figure is. People seem to think it is their right to be able not to work. Good news that these people who have got away with claiming benefits, just so they do not have to get a job, are now being forced to find work like the rest of us.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    "Brendan Barber stated the Government was going to do this "whatever the cost". Does he not mean "whatever the saving"?"

    In the world of 'Other Peoples Money' that Brendan Barber & suchlike inhabit, there's really no distinction between the two.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    I know 2 people with mobility cars. 1 is very overweight, but regularly walks round the shops all day at the weekend and is a travelling beautician. The other rides his 850cc motor bike to work each day,and can walk 3 miles on rough terrain but had a stroke 8 years ago, so gets his mobility car anyway. Both filled in self-assessment claims to get their cars. No wonder our country is broke.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    To all those bleeding hearts who say it will push those in need out of the system. The system is there to ensure people that really NEED help will continue to receive this benefit. The number of times I have heard people say I'll never work again. If you can get up in the morning get washed dressed and fed by yourself, and get to the pub, then you can do some form of work even part time.


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