‘Fitness to work’ pilot combats long-term sick

The Government has begun piloting its “fitness to work” assessment scheme for people on long-term sickness benefits.

The pilots, to be run in Burnley and Aberdeen, are the first concrete phase of radical plans by the Government to reduce welfare spending by £15 billion.

Long-term claimants of incapacity benefit in the two cities will be reassessed for their ability to work.

The Work Capability Assessment will determine what a person can do, not simply what they cannot, the Department for Work and Pensions says.

The “early migration” trial runs from October 2010 to January next year, and will involve around 1,700 claimants.

Those deemed still unable to work, severely disabled or who are terminally ill will not be expected to look for work. They will get extra help through the Government’s Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), stressed employment minister Chris Grayling.

But those reassessed and found fit for work will move onto jobseeker’s allowance and will be expected to look for work like other jobseekers.

Those who could work but need extra help and support to become work-ready will move on to ESA and receive “tailored support” to get back into work, Grayling added.

The pilots are due to be rolled out across the country from spring next year.

Last month’s Comprehensive Spending Review introduced a 12‑month time limit for the one million people on employment and support allowance to find work or take a benefit cut.

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