Sickness benefit crackdown begins
Ministers have launched their crackdown on sickness benefits, claiming half a million claimants could be ready to return to work straight away.
The Work and Pensions department is writing to many of the 1.6 million people on incapacity benefit, telling them they need to be re-assessed. The first assessments begin in June.
Last week the government launched its work programme, where private companies and voluntary groups will be paid for getting the long-term unemployed into lasting jobs. Firms will receive as much as £14,000 for moving a claimant back into the labour market.
At the weekend, employment minister Chris Grayling wrote in The Sunday Telegraph: ‘We could expect around half a million people to be found fit for work over the next three years as the reassessment exercise is completed.’
He said that ‘with the right support’, another 600,000 IB claimants would be able to move into work.
The Observer newspaper this weekend reported a woman appointed to help troubled families get off benefits and into work was on a joint income of £1.4million with her husband.
Emma Harrison, the chairman of Action for Employment, has won five out of the 40 new welfare contracts from the Department for Work and Pensions, the newspaper said, for private companies to get jobless people into work.
She has built her business based on ‘welfare to work’ contracts with the government, the Observer stated.
This comes after the Office for Budget Responsibility produced figures last week showing average household debt would rise to £77,309 by 2015. Last year it predicted this figure would be £66,291.