Government will fund plans for benefit system reform, Johnson insists

Alan Johnson today pledged that funding would be provided to
implement the government’s proposed reforms to incapacity
benefits that were announced last week, writes Amy

New Asset  
Alan Johnson

The work and pensions secretary, who was speaking at a lecture
organised by think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research,
said that the new measures would require investment but would lead
to savings in the future.

Kate Stanley, head of social policy at IPPR, said it was
“essential” that resources were made available to
ensure the infrastructure was good enough to achieve the new
proposals’ aims.

The government announced the biggest shake-up to incapacity
benefit since it was created last week.
Unlike the current system, the proposed new benefits,
rehabilitation support allowance and disability and sickness
allowance, will differentiate between people with severe conditions
and those with potentially more manageable conditions.

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
(£74 per week) by engaging in work-focused interviews and in
activities that will help them return to work such as training and
basic skills.

The government claims that those who cannot work, who will get the
disability and sickness allowance, will be better off than they are
now under the plans – although no figures have yet been

It has also announced that the Pathways to Work pilot schemes,
which help people on incapacity benefit back into employment, will
be expanded to cover 900,000 people within two years.

Stanley said that there would be a need for ongoing training for
personal advisers and an expansion of suitable training, voluntary
and rehabilitation options for clients.

“In the context of significant cuts being required by the
department for work and pensions following the Gershon review, this
is likely to be a challenge for the secretary of state and his
department,” she said.

Johnson said that the fact that there were “head count
reductions” in the DWP was set against the fact that there
would be another 10,500 staff through the expansion of Pathways to


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