Budget: Disability Alliance attacks move to test all IB claimants

Campaign group the Disability Alliance has attacked plans in yesterday’s Budget for all existing incapacity benefits to undergo a revamped test of their readiness for work by 2010.

The alliance said rolling out the new “work capability assessment” to all 2.6m IB claimants could see 250,000 moved off the benefit – which will be reborn as the employment and support allowance this October – onto jobseeker’s allowance.

The assessment will be introduced for all new employment and support allowance claimants in October, and a government evaluation found that it would halve the number of those deemed newly eligible. This would reduce claimant numbers by 20,000 a year.

The Disability Alliance warned that the extension to existing claimants could simply be a way of reducing benefit numbers rather than helping people into work. It said that the current determinant of eligibility for IB – the personal capability assessment, which all existing claimants would have undergone – was one of the most rigorous in the developed world.

Yesterday’s proposal mirrors Conservative plans published in January.

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