By Claire West
The vast majority of people who apply for Employment and Support Allowance are either being found fit for work after undergoing a Work Capability Assessment or stop their claim before they complete their medical assessment.
The official statistics, published yesterday, demonstrate why Ministers are determined to reform the welfare system and press ahead with the reassessment of those on the old style incapacity benefit (IB), which began in Burnley and Aberdeen last year and will roll out across the country later this year.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling:
"It’s unacceptable that so many people have been written off to a lifetime on benefits and these figures show just how vital it is that everyone who has the potential to work receives the right help and support.
"We are determined to get the medical assessment right and provide the necessary help for those that need it, however these figures show just how many people are found to be fit for work and not entitled to ESA.
"Our new Work Programme will ensure that those found fit for work will get the help and support they need to get a job. Those found too sick or disabled to work won’t be expected to and will continue to receive the support they need to lead fulfilling lives."
For new ESA claims from October 2008 to May 2010, the breakdown is:
Support Group (for those who cannot work now or in the foreseeable future and need unconditional support) — 6%
Work Related Activity Group (for those who cannot work now but with the right help could work in the foreseeable future) — 16%
Fit for Work - 39%
Claim closed before assessment complete or assessment still in process—39%
Ministers have already made changes to the way the Work Capability Assessments recognise people suffering from mental health conditions and those with cancer.