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Most sick benefit claimants 'are fit to work'
6:00pm Sunday 22nd April 2012 in News
MORE than two-thirds of Hampshire’s incapacity benefit claimants are being judged capable of work, it has been revealed.
For the first time, the impact of controversial new tests on people in the area receiving incapacity benefit has been published - and it shows around a third been told to look for work immediately. Another third could work with the right support, officials said.
This means that across the Hampshire and Southampton council areas, around 22,000 of the 31,000 claimants are likely to be deemed fit for work by the time all have been tested.
Employment Minister, Chris Grayling, said the figures proved the benefits system had been “a waste of human life,”
adding: “Too many people have been left languishing on benefits for too long.”
In Southampton, 120 of the 390 tests results published so far came out as fit for work, while 150 people were told they would be able to work with the right support.
Across the south area, less than a third of the claimants tested were told they could continue to receive the payment without having to look for work.
The Work Capability Assessments, carried out by French company Atos, have been controversial, with disability charities calling for them to be suspended.
There have been a large number of appeals against the assessments, with around 40 per cent of findings across the country being overturned, suggesting a number of those told to return to work will be able to carry on claiming.
Critics said the test failed to identify mental health conditions and vilified disabled people as benefit cheats.
It was introduced by Labour in 2008 as an attempt to weed out incapacity benefits claimants who were judged fit to do some form of work. The coalition government decided to expand it to existing claimants.
A series of changes were made after a governmentcommissioned review found the test, which involves physical and mental challenges, was “impersonal and mechanistic.”
The former minister said his party had assumed around half of claimants were capable of work when it had been in government.
But he added: “There is undoubtedly some real stress being caused to people, some of whom will never, ever work.”