Press release

Support for people on sickness benefits to get back into the workplace

Thousands of people who have been on sickness benefits for more than 15 years have been found fit to work and will now get support.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Thousands of people who have been on sickness benefits for more than 15 years have been found fit to work and will now get support to help them back into a job, new analysis reveals today.

Of the first 47,400 Incapacity Benefit (IB) claimants to be reassessed and found fit to work, 27 per cent -12,900 - had been on the benefit for more than 10 years. Eight per cent - 3,900 - had been on the benefit for more than 15 years.

They will get support from Jobcentre Plus and the Work Programme to help them back into a job as Government reforms of the welfare system continue.

Since October 2010 the Government has been reassessing people on IB to see whether they are capable of working or are entitled to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Today’s figures are the result of further analysis of statistics published in March about the first group of IB claimants to be reassessed.

The new analysis also shows that those people who need the most support are getting the help they need. More than one third  - 37 per cent - of people who have been claiming IB for 15 years or more were put into the ESA support group.

ESA looks at what a person can do rather than what they cannot. People who have been told they are unable to do one job may be able to do another and will be helped through Jobcentre Plus and the Work Programme to find employment. Those not in the support group but not fit enough to work immediately are entitled to ESA in the Work-Related Activity Group, where they receive financial support and can prepare for a return to suitable work.

Minister for Employment Chris Grayling said:

I want people to reach their potential. The Work Programme will help someone to find a job but will also help them overcome the barriers they face.

The fact so many people were left to languish on Incapacity Benefit for nearly two decades with no support or hope when they could have been helped back into work shows that our welfare reforms are the right course of action.

**Notes to Editors **

The publication can be found at

The Work Programme is helping people who have been on sickness benefits get into work:

James uses life experiences to gain new job

After caring for his wife as she battled bravely against cancer, James Drysdale could not think about returning to work following her death.

James, 59, of Dumfries, admitted his life had lost direction and that his confidence was shattered after his wife Angela died in 2010. But little did he know that the work he’d been undertaking as a carer for his wife over the last six years of her life would be seen by employers as an in-demand skill.

He said:

I cannot describe bereavement in any other way than feeling that half of me was missing. I was so very suddenly alone and had lost direction. My confidence was shattered.

After a year out of work, James was referred to employment and skills experts Working Links which delivers the Work Programme in Scotland. It was here that he learned that his time spent working in the hospitality industry and then caring for his wife could be transferred into a different job.

He said:

Without fully realising it, throughout my working life I’ve always taken care of people as part of my job. I had little idea what avenues would be open to me, however, within ten days of registering with Working Links I had my first interview and by evening that day I had a job offer on the table.

James landed a job as a care worker at the Singleton Park Care Home in Lockerbie, providing quality care for the elderly, infirm and terminally ill and has since launched a career as a freelance personal carer.

Read all about it - Gary’s got a new job

Gary Stamp, of Chelmsford, was referred to the Work Programme after claiming Employment and Support Allowance, after two part replacements on his knees had left him unable to work. Gary had been placed in the Work Related Activity Group of ESA and was keen to work towards finding employment again.

Gary had over 30 years experience within the Printing trade but was finding it difficult to get back into that industry given his condition so was looking in other industries.

Soon after coming on to the Work Programme with Seetec, he met with the placement advisor who ensured his CV reflected all his skills and experience. Seetec’s advisor also identified a local employer called icatchers, a specialist in printing, and encouraged Gary to apply. Gary visited the company in person to follow up the opportunity and introduced himself which resulted in an interview.

Gary was offered a job as a printer which he started last autumn. He is still working for icatchers and is really enjoying his new job which has given him more confidence and the chance to return to an industry he loves.

He said:

When I was first made redundant due to my knees I was unsure if I would be able to return to the printing trade, I looked for other types of positions such as driving jobs or office work but only having printing experience it was hard. When my advisor made a connection with icatchers I jumped at the chance to follow it up and love my new job.

Published 14 May 2012