Blunkett gives reassurances over incapacity benefit

David Blunkett has given reassurances over the
government’s plans for incapacity benefit, writes
Amy Taylor.

In his first speech on disability in his new role as the
secretary of state for work and pensions, he said that incapacity
benefit reform was “a promise not a threat” and that he
was aware of people’s fears and uncertainties about the

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

Those with less serious conditions will be able to top up the
amount of money they receive through engaging in activities
designed to get them back to work.

Concerns that people will be made to go back to work before they
are ready under the new system have been raised by campaigners.

Blunkett, who was speaking at a Remploy conference, an
organisation which helps disabled people to find jobs, said that
too many GPs tell people that they will never work again rather
than encouraging them to try and get back to work.

He added that he would be working with the health secretary
Patricia Hewitt and the British Medical Association and the Royal
College of General Practitioners to try to change this.

He went on to confirm that the government would continue its
current level of investment in the Access to Work scheme, which
contributes towards any extra costs incurred by employers from
employing a disabled person, but he said that the scheme needed to
work more effectively and efficiently.

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