Two-thirds of those claiming incapacity benefit are fit enough to go back to work, the Department of Work and Pensions has admitted.
Minister for work Jane Kennedy said a third of the country’s 2.7 million claimants could work immediately, reports the Daily Mail.
Another third could potentially return in the longer term, she added, saying only the final third are sick enough to be off work and on benefits for their lifetimes.
She admitted that, until recently, the Government had done “almost nothing” to encourage people to come off incapacity benefit.
In a speech in London on Tuesday, Kennedy told the Social Market Foundation: “We can’t say that genuine full employment has been achieved when nearly one in every 13 of us is out of work and claiming an incapacity benefit.”
She said most claimants have been on the benefit for a “very long time”, with the latest figures suggesting more than two million have been claiming for more than two years and nearly 1.5 million for more than five years.