Benefit claimants ‘more likely to die or retire than get a job’

Benefit claimants are more likely to die or retire than get a job, according to a social care expert.

The chief executive of social care organisation Turning Point, Lord Victor Adebowale, has warned that most people claiming incapacity benefits for two years or more are likely to give up work altogether rather than return to work.

The warning comes as the government is expected to launch a welfare reform Green Paper today (Monday) on getting the unemployed back into work.

More than 2.7 million people claim benefits. But about 1.5 million of those claiming incapacity benefits have been doing so for more than five years.

Adebowale said it was not practical for the employer or the employee to simply expect such people to work after years of unemployment – particularly with the clients he sees, who have a history of drug abuse. Instead, they need trained advisers to support them to return to a sustainable life.

“If you have been claiming [incapacity benefit] for more than two years, you are more likely to die or retire than get a job,” he said.

“Most of Turning Point’s employment support clients, who have a history of drug problems, are desperate to get their lives back on track and move into work,” he added. “They need trained advisers to work with them to set the individual pace at which they do this.

“Although some people are ready to get straight back to full-time work, for others, this would be too great a leap. It wouldn’t work for employers and would be likely to push them back into drugs and crime.”

Adebowale said the most complex claimants who are furthest from the labour market need a stepped approach that gets them into work at a sensible, sustainable pace. Otherwise, taxpayers’ money is misused, not only through benefits but also through health, social care, and criminal justice costs.

“It is the only effective way to prevent them becoming ‘revolving door’ claimants and to turn their lives around – for good,” he said.

The Welfare Reform Green Paper will be published this afternoon. It follows another that was published last year, which focused on getting lone parents back to work.

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