£760m project to cut benefits slated

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Indy Politics

A flagship £760m programme to reduce the number of people on incapacity benefits only had "limited effect" and was not well implemented says a critical report published today.

The Pathways to Work programme contracted work to private providers who "seriously underperformed" and had lower success rates than Jobcentre Plus, the Commons Public Accounts Committee found. Between 2005 and 2009 the number of people on incapacity benefits reduced by just 125,000 and the committee said it could not be clear how many of these were due to the Pathways project.

The programme, launched nationally between 2005 and 2008, was aimed at cutting the number of claimants, which has remained stubbornly high at more than 2.5 million for more than a decade. In 2008-09, the benefits bill for the 2.6 million people on incapacity benefits was £12.6bn. But the Committee's Labour chairwoman Margaret Hodge dis praise the Department for Work and Pensions for trying to tackle "the intractable problem".

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