Press release

Grayling: Statistics show our benefit reforms are justified

More than one third of people going through incapacity benefits reassessment have been found to be fit for work.

More than one third of people going through incapacity benefits reassessment have been found to be fit for work, according to the first set of official statistics released today.

Figures for the first 141,100 incapacity benefits claimants to start the reassessment process show 37 per cent of those whose claims have been concluded have been found fit for work.

The remaining 63 per cent of claimants were entitled to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA):

  • Thirty four per cent were placed in the Work Related Activity Group, where they will receive personalised help and support to help them prepare for a move into suitable work in the future.
  • Twenty nine per cent were placed in the Support Group and will receive unconditional financial support and will not be expected to work.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:

These first figures completely justify our decision to reassess all the people on incapacity benefits. To have such a high percentage who are fit for work just emphasises what a complete waste of human lives the current system has been.

We know that for many it will be a long haul back to work but it’s much better to help them on the journey than to leave them on benefits for the rest of their lives.

About 1.5million incapacity benefits claimants are being reassessed and will either be moved on to ESA or found fit to work as part of the Government’s reform of the welfare system. The Government does not believe it is acceptable to write people off to a lifetime on benefits because they have a health condition or impairment, and wants to support families back to work.

Claimants are taken through the Work Capability Assessment to decide whether they are entitled to ESA. ESA provides financial help to people who are unable to work because of illness or disability. It also provides personalised support to those who may be able to work at some point in the future with the right assistance.

Today’s statistics do not include information on appeals which claimants are entitled to lodge. The final proportion who are deemed fit to work is likely to fall as some appeals will be successful.

Notes to editors:

Outcomes of initial assessments adjusted to account for outcomes after appeals for IB, SDA and IS claimants referred for reassessment until the end of July 2011 show:

  • 92 per cent of claimants have an outcome i.e. decisions have been made on their claims;
  • 3 per cent of claimants had their claim closed before having an outcome; and
  • per cent of claimants were still undergoing assessment.

Claimants with an outcome for their claim can be broken down as follows:

  • 63 per cent of claimants were entitled to the benefit.  Within this -
  • 34 per cent of claimants were placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG), and
  • 29 per cent of claimants were placed in the Support Group (SG); and
  • 37 per cent of claimants were assessed as Fit for Work (FFW) and are not entitled to ESA.

The reassessment of 1.5 million existing incapacity benefitss claimants commenced on 11 October 2010 with a trial in the Burnley and Aberdeen areas.  At the end of February 2011, Jobcentre Plus started a limited introductory phase. Full national reassessment process began in 4 April 2011. The process is expected to take three years to complete.

This publication only covers claims who started the process before the end of July 2011, following these claims up until February 2012, to give a full picture for these claims. We are on track to complete the whole reassessment process by spring 2014.

The Government has previously published statistics showing numbers of new ESA claimants found fit to work or entitled to the benefit. Latest figures released in January showed that 57 per cent of people going through the Work Capability Assessment were found fit for some form of work, 21 per cent could do some work with the right help and support and a further 22 per cent of people went directly into the Support Group, receiving unconditional financial support.

The Work Capability Assessment was developed in close consultation with medical experts and specialist disability groups with a specific aim of better assessing the effects of mental health conditions, and after a department-led review we have made changes which expand the Support Group in relation to mental function. The department is currently considering recommendations from Professor Harrington who asked leading charities, including Mind, Mencap and the National Autistic Society, to make suggestions to refine the mental, intellectual and cognitive descriptors used in the WCA as part of his Year 2 review. The department is committed to continuously improving the Work Capability Assessment to ensure that it is as fair and accurate as possible.

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