Incapacity benefit

Kiran Stacey

Reading the front page of the Daily Mail today, you could be forgiven for thinking that the government’s new system for assessing who should get incapacity benefits had been a roaring success.

Just one in 14 claimants has been found unfit to work, according to stats from DWP, suggesting the new test has rooted out an incredible number of people who were never entitled to claim IB in the first place.

Well, not really. As Paul Gregg, a professor at Bristol university who helped design the new system has pointed out on his blog, there are a number of problems with this interpretation. Read more

There’s been lots of speculation over the Treasury’s plans on sickness benefit. The Times flagged up a proposal to “means test”, while the Observer has a letter pointing to £2.5bn of incapacity benefit savings from an unspecified reform.

No final decisions have been taken. But reading between the lines, it sounds like moves are afoot to scale back “contributory incapacity benefit” (which I’ll explain in a second).

If so, it blows a rather big hole in George Osborne’s claim that a he’ll be finding savings from ending the “lifestyle choice” of those determined to “pull down the blinds” and scrounge on benefits. These reforms largely take money from people who have worked and fallen ill, rather than those who’ve allegedly chosen a life on the “sickie”. Read more