Incapacity benefit ‘a barrier to work’

Incapacity benefit has become a barrier to work and should be
replaced by a new set of measures, according to a leading think
tank, writes Amy Taylor.

A report, from the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr),
published yesterday says that claimants must demonstrate that they
are incapable of work to get incapacity benefit and therefore risk
loosing it if they look for a job.

It adds that despite this claimants are also required to attend
work focused interviews.

Chancellor Gordon Brown’s pre-budget report announced that
Pathways to Work pilot schemes to get people off incapacity benefit
and into work are to be extended to cover on third of the country
by next October. It involves employment advisors being posted in GP
surgeries and people who return to work getting benefits top ups on
their wages.

The plans aim to cut Britain’s estimated £7.7 billion
incapacity benefit bill. “The idea of reducing the number of
claimants…in order simply to make public spending savings is
not an acceptable motive for reform,” said Kate Stanley, ippr
senior research fellow.

The ippr want incapacity benefit to be replaced by measures
including a flat-rate ‘Earnings Replacement Allowance’
and have an enhanced Disability Living Allowance. This would
de-couple disability from incapacity and remove the incentive to
stay on incapacity benefit longer to qualify for extra money.

Other ideas include agreed actions negotiated between
well-trained personal advisors and claimants such as activities to
enhance employability through training and education.

Fit for Purpose: The Reform of Incapacity Benefit is available
to order from:

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