'500,000 on sick benefits are fit to work' claims minister
Half a million people who currently claim sickness benefits are fit to start work immediately, a minister has suggested.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling gave the estimate as the coalition prepares to launch the biggest crackdown on abuses of the welfare system for a generation.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, he said around five million people had consistently been on out-of-work benefits for the last decade.
"Too many people were left abandoned 'on the sick' while new jobs went to migrant workers from overseas," he insisted.
He highlighted findings from pilot studies in Burnley and Aberdeen which showed "almost a third" of existing claimants were fit for work.
"The trial results show that, if replicated nationally, we could expect around half a million people to be found fit for work over the next three years as the reassessment exercise is completed," Mr Grayling added.
Another 600,000 of the 1.6 million who will be tested are likely to be able to find work "with the right support".
The welfare crackdown will see up to 10,000 people "reassessed" every week, with a process that can involve tough new medical tests.
Private companies will be used to help people off benefits and back into work, and rewarded with fees of up to £14,000 for each individual case.
Anybody ruled fit for work who is currently on an invalidity benefit (IB) will be placed on the less generous Job Seekers' Allowance (JSA).
The coalition's plan was first put forward by Mr Grayling when the Tories were in opposition more than three years ago. The then work and pensions secretary James Purnell came forward with similar proposals, but they are believed to have been blocked by Gordon Brown.
Mr Grayling wrote: "Refusal to take part is not an option. If claimants refuse that help, they will lose their benefits."
In a separate move, ministers are next week due to launch their proposals for a new flat-rate state pension for everyone worth at least £140 in current prices.
The radical change - expected to take effect in about five years' time - aims to simplify the existing arrangements which include means testing, a top-up "credit" payment and the state "second pension".
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...