CIPD criticises delayed incapacity benefit reforms

The Government’s new incapacity benefit plans have been spoiled by the delay in their implementation, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The reform of Incapacity Benefit, announced today by work and pensions secretary Alan Johnson, represents a major step forward for the welfare system, according to John Philpott, chief economist at the CIPD.

However, he said that delaying the full introduction of the proposals until 2008 meant they will have little impact on current labour market pressures.

“This is too long a delay – it means the reforms will be slow to reduce welfare dependency and make no difference to employers desperate to fill job vacancies today,” he said.

Under the plans announced today by Johnson, two new benefits – Rehabilitation Support Allowance and Disability and Sickness Allowance – will differentiate between those who have a severe condition, and those with potentially manageable conditions who can be helped back into work.

The majority, who have more manageable conditions, will receive the Rehabilitation Support Allowance. It will offer everyone a basic benefit at Jobseekers Allowance levels (about £55 a week). However, it will ensure they can build up to receieving more than today’s long-term Incapacity Benefit by giving them extra money for attending work-focused interviews, and for taking steps towards re-entering the labour market.

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