måndag 21 april 2008

Incapacity benefit scroungers?

This is one of those subjects the right-wing tabloids like to run. "People pretending to be sick living at the expense of hard-working families" is the line taken.

But as an article in the FT magazine explained, the figures will not stack up. Many, possibly most, of the people on Incapacity Benefit are capable of doing some kind of work. But most of them are genuinely in ill health, sometimes intermittently, and the the whole structure of the benefits system makes them reluctant to look for work because if their health deteriorated, they would have to go through the whole business of having to apply for the benefit again.

Scrutiny of those on Incapacity Benefit may well result in getting the claimants onto the Jobseekers' Allowance instead, especially if, as has apparently happened, people capable of turning up on time for their medical examination are deemed fit for work!

But what happens then? There were 678,000 job vacancies in Britain in February and 795,000 on the Jobseekers' Allowance. If many of the 2.6 million on Incapacity Benefit are forced onto Jobseekers' Allowance, look forward to a huge sudden rise in the unemployment statistics. That will be embarrassing for the government.

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