Disabled people will be better off under DWP proposals

    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
    as incapable.

     “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,”
    said Johnson.

    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.


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