The government is to wait until the summer to publish a Green Paper on incapacity benefit to give the disability lobby time to take part in an informal consultation about the plans.
The Green Paper will set off a formal consultation period about how the new benefit system will operate, the role of personal advisers and what people will be required to do to access higher rates of benefit. It will also explore what safeguards and appeals processes should be included.
A spokesperson for the Depart-ment for Work and Pensions said that incapacity benefit had become a main focus for the government and the delay would give it an opportunity to get ‘ahead of the game’.
The government’s approach to tackling the problem was set out in a five-year strategy launched in February, when it set out plans to replace incapacity benefit with two new payments – rehabilitation support allowance and disability and sickness allowance.
It also plans to scrap the incremental increase in payments, which is believed to be a disincentive to giving up the benefit and returning to work.
Around 2.7 million people currently receive incapacity benefit. Work and pensions minister Alan Johnson said the new plans would “sweep aside a system that branded people incapable and help claimants to focus on what they can do, ‘rather than what they cannot”.
For more on the Green Paper, go to www.personneltoday.com/28682.article