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DWP: a third of those on incapacity benefits capable of work

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DWP: a third of those on incapacity benefits capable of work

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Care and Support, Regulation

Mark Hoban Mark Hoban

Nearly a third of those on the old incapacity benefits have been found capable of some kind of work since controversial reassessments began, according to new figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Over 603,000 people have been reassessed since 2010 - and almost 180,000 have been deemed no longer eligible for sickness benefits.

The company that the Government has hired to carry out the reassessments has caused controversy with its methods.

French firm Atos has been accused of classifying gravely ill people as fit for work.

And campaigners have argued that its methods are degrading, inaccurate and not fit for purpose.

Last November, a grief-stricken 13-year-old's letter made headlines after he wrote to Atos concerning his father's death.

The company had deemed Brian McArdle fit for work despite him being left blinded in one eye, unable to speak and paralysed down his left side after a stroke.

Mr McArdle passed away the day after the DWP ceased his benefits.

Just over two thirds of people who were claiming the old incapacity benefits are eligible for Employment and Support Allowance, with 27 percent put in the support group where they get unconditional support as they are too ill or disabled to work.

A further 41 percent were put in the Work Related Activity Group, meaning they are currently too ill or disabled to work and entitled to the benefit, but will be expected to take steps towards an eventual return to work when they are able.

The Department is now more than half way through the reassessment of 1.5m incapacity benefits claimants through the Work Capability Assessment, although today's figures only show the outcome of those cases up to May 2012.

Mark Hoban (pictured), Minister for Employment, said: "Now we are over half way through the reassessment process it is clear that the old system condemned tens of thousands of people to a life on benefits with little help to move back to work.

"Now people who can work will be given help to find a job, while those who need unconditional support will get it.

"Getting the Work Capability Assessment right first time is my absolute priority and we have made considerable improvements to the process to ensure it is as fair and accurate as possible."

The outcomes of initial assessments (adjusted to account for outcomes after appeals) for incapacity benefits claimants referred for reassessment between October 2010 and May 2012 show:

68 percent of claimants were entitled to the benefit. Within this

41 percent were placed in the Work Related Activity Group
27 percent were placed in the Support Group
32 percent were assessed as Fit for Work and are not entitled to ESA.

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