37% 'fit for work' after assessment
More than one in three people being reassessed for incapacity benefit payments have been found to be fit for work, according to the first set of official statistics released by the Government.
Figures for the first 141,100 claimants to start the reassessment process showed that 37% of those whose claims had been concluded had been found fit for work, with the rest entitled to employment and support allowance (ESA).
The Department for Work and Pensions said a third were placed in the work-related activity group, where they will receive personalised support to help them prepare for a move into suitable work, while 29% 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 benefit. 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."
Around 1.5 million incapacity benefit claimants started being reassessed in 2010 and will either be moved on to ESA or be found fit to work as part of the Government's reform of the welfare system.
The figures do not include information on appeals claimants are entitled to lodge.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "It's hardly surprising that a test specifically designed to make fewer people qualify for disability benefits is passing more people fit to work.
"These tests have deemed amputees and terminally ill patients fit to work, are costing taxpayers a small fortune in successful legal appeals and serve no clear benefit to the very people it is supposed to help.
"The point of a fitness test should be to identify whether someone is fit to work, not to kick people off benefits whatever the cost."