Saturday, 25 January 2014

What does it mean when one million people are found fit to work?

DWP says almost one million sick found fit to work reports The Huffington Post:
A third (32%) of all new claimants for employment and support allowance (ESA) were assessed as being fit to work and capable of employment between October 2008 and March 2013 - totalling 980,400 people, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said.
We've now had five years of reporting the numbers of people turned down for ESA as some kind of success story; they're getting disabled people back into work. A third of those who claimed ESA are being found fit to work. Welfare Reform is justified!

Those turned down for Employment and Support Allowance are not necessarily making false claims. They may be fit to work but have not understood the rules, or they may be unable to work but have struggled to fill in the form in such a way that conveys this. Some of those turned down may have had a good case for appeal (40% of appeals are successful), but couldn't face the ordeal. The fact that this complex and mixed group number a million people (or strictly speaking, a million claims) seems unremarkable.

The criteria for Employment and Support Allowance are much stricter than those of Incapacity Benefit, the process takes many more months, with many people either dying, getting better or giving up before a decision is made and some claimants' benefit is stopped after the first year if they have savings or a working partner. Despite this, there were still 2.49 million people on ESA and other incapacity-type benefits in 2013, against the 2.6 million on incapacity benefits in 2008.

Reform to this benefit, at massive cost to government, a very great deal of  personal stress, heartache and hardship for disabled people and their families, as well as a media-driven regression in social attitudes towards disabled people, has only succeeded in reducing the numbers on this kind of benefit by 110,000 people or a little over 4%.

This is what has been achieved since October 2008; there are a little over four percent fewer people on ESA and related benefits than before. It is unclear whether or not the incapacity bill - either in terms of benefits or the cost of assessing for and administering benefits -  has been reduced. A stable 40% of appeals against ESA decisions are successful. Fraud levels (around 0.3%  for incapacity benefits) remain stable.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of those found "fit to work" will have simply moved onto other kinds of benefits such as Job Seeker's Allowance. Disabled people who are fit to work remain unlikely to actually get work, largely due to discrimination.


  1. Wouldn't it be nice if after five years of mayhem the politicians actually had a rational discussion about what they mean by 'fit to work'.

    Jobs are given out through a competitive labour market. Market is the new wonder concept. We all believe in markets to settle tings now.

    So how do markets treat someone with an impairment that means they need extra time off or are slower at working because of pain or fatigue.

    Rationally. This isn't prejudice. Employers are supposed to get the most work for the least money. They are not there to support people in the community.

    In Germany they have a quota system. That must admit that the market can't be fair to disabled people. Intervention is needed.

    In England we continue to find people 'fit for work', harass and sanction them, and do nothing to help them overcome the barriers in the labour market that mean the jobs go to other people.

  2. true but it will not change while right wing torries are in power. there only policy is im okay jack. they are akin to the Nazi party if you can't work then you are useless to society so crawl away and die quietly.

  3. I have not read one article or seen a TV programme about a person who "languished" on invalidity benefit, then was assessed as fit for work, and given the right help to get a job. if such people existed I am sure the government would be telling us.