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Far more people ‘fit to work’ than expected

Two-thirds of those seeking to claim employment support allowance are either found fit for work or drop their claims before taking the new test, Government figures show.

Despite an ongoing controversy about the fitness-for-work tests overseen by ATOS, which have been criticised as failing to take into account individual circumstances, the DWP and Prime Minister David Cameron both welcomed the results.
Cameron said those capable of work, should work.

Around 7% of people assessed for the new incapacity benefit are found unable to do any work at all, while 39% are ‘entirely’ fit for work. Around 17% can work with help and support, the figures show.

The figures cover potential new claimants between October 2008 and November 2010. After six-month trials, the testing scheme went nationwide in April.

Cameron said: “For too long in this country we have left people on welfare for year after year when those people, with help and with assistance, could work, and so we're producing a much better system where we really put people through their paces and say that if you can work, you should work.

“We'll be there to help you with the training and the skills, but what we are finding, and the figures show today, is that only one in four of the people who apply for the new benefit are actually found to be unable to work. The rest are able to work and we're going to help them to get jobs. That will be good for them, good for their families and good for our economy.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said the new, tougher test was specifically designed to cut welfare costs by ‘excluding’ people with disabilities.

He added: “The TUC has heard from disabled people all around the UK who feel the tests have been unfair and ineffective, and it is interesting to see that 39% of appeals against initial judgments are successful.”

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