People with the most severe health conditions or disabilities
will qualify for more money than they do now under a new incapacity
benefit system proposed by the work and pensions secretary Alan
Johnson today, writes Amy Taylor.
The move is part of the biggest shake-up of incapacity benefits
since they were created and is contained in the Department for Work
and Pensions Five Year Strategy.
Unlike the current system, the proposed benefits, rehabilitation
support allowance and disability and sickness allowance will
differentiate between people with severe conditions and those with
potentially more manageable conditions.
The name ‘incapacity benefit’ will also be scrapped
as the government says it leads to people immediately being classed
“It doesn’t make sense to have a system that lumps
everyone together – treating in exactly the same way the
person with back pain and the person with terminal cancer,”
People with less serious conditions, who will receive the
rehabilitation support allowance, will get a basic benefit at job
seeker allowance level – about £55. They can top this up to
more than the current long-term incapacity benefit rate by engaging
in work-focused interviews and in activities that will help them
return to work such as training or basic skills.
The government also plans to remove the incentives to stay on
incapacity benefit. It currently stands at £56 a week in the
first six months, rising to £66 a week after this and then
£74 after a year.
The government aims for the new measures to be in place for all
new claimants by 2008.