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Friday 29th of October 2010
October 11, 2010    

Government announces incapacity benefit changes

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by Kay Murchie

As part of the coalition Government’s welfare crackdown, Iain Duncan Smith, Work and Pensions secretary, has today announced that those on incapacity benefit will be forced to undergo medical tests.

The tests, which will be trialled in Burnley and Aberdeen from today, will be rolled out throughout the country from next April.

The move, which is aimed at saving billions of pounds, will see those able to work put into jobs or placed on jobseekers’ allowance - slicing a third of their payments.

The measures come just a week after Chancellor George Osborne revealed that child benefit is to be scrapped for higher rate taxpayers from 2013.

Both moves are part of the Government’s spending cuts, designed to deal with Britain’s record deficit of £155 billion and the Chancellor has pledged to wipe out the deficit within five years.

Over the last 10 years, incapacity benefit has cost the taxpayer £135 billion and is paid to just over 2 million people.

Mr Duncan Smith wrote in The Times: “Whilst taxpayers rightly bemoan the wasted money which they worked so hard to earn, the human tragedy is the lost potential of so many people who have been dumped to languish at the bottom end of society.”

In the Government’s emergency budget in June, it was revealed that the benefits system would be in line for a radical overhaul.

The massive overhaul is aimed at helping people get back to work but, at the same time, end the situation where some risk losing out financially if they take a job.

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