Eight out of ten Brits claiming disability benefits ARE fit to work, according to new incapacity tests

Eight out of ten people tested for new incapacity benefits were found to be fit for work, official figures revealed yesterday. The Department for Work and Pensions decided that 57 per cent of claimants were no longer eligible for the hand-outs. A further 21 per cent could carry out some sort of work with the right support.

Just one fifth of claimants – 22 per cent – were found unable to do any form of employment.

Around 1.5million people who have been claiming Incapacity Benefit are being reassessed for its replacement – the Employment Support Allowance – to see if they are able to carry out work.

The latest figures show the numbers claiming ESA and Incapacity Benefit have dropped to their lowest level since 1996 following the introduction of the tests.

There are still 2.6million people claiming the benefits, nearly a million of whom have been on them for more than a decade.

Figures relating to claims lodged between March and May last year show that 38 per cent were dismissed at the first stage – before face-to-face assessments were carried out – while 48 per cent were subjected to further consideration. A further 14 per cent of claimants are still being assessed.

The latest analysis also shows there has been a decrease in the number of people claiming for drug and alcohol-related conditions – from 105,110 in May 2010 to 100,120 in May last year.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: ‘These reforms are changing the landscape of our country. ‘By concentrating on what people can do, we will help people back into work and out of the trap of benefits that has blighted communities.

‘We want to help everyone who can be in work to get there, not just for themselves but for their children. It is clear that the majority of new claimants to sickness benefits are in fact able to do some work.’

But critics have warned that the new testing regime is flawed – and a report by MPs on the work and pensions select committee recently found that large numbers of seriously unwell claimants have been wrongly refused support and high numbers of appeals have proved successful.

Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted the new system is much better at putting people through their ‘paces’.

Claimants who pass the first stage of assessment are then placed in three groups: Those who need permanent support, those who might be able to work after a few months and those fit to work. If placed in the latter category they are told to resubmit a benefits application – but this time for Jobseekers Allowance.


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