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Benefit tests set to get much tougher for sick and disabled

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03/04/2007

Many people currently claiming sick and incapacity benefits could be deprived of their money because of possible tougher eligibility tests, according to campaigners.

Changes to the Personal Capability Assessment were announced last year as part of the welfare reform that the Government is determined to drive through as part of its overhaul of the welfare state.

However, the National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers (NAWRA) said that “the whole essence” of the test had been changed and criticised the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) for using “legal experts” to draft the tests rather than experts in various forms of disability.

However, Minister John Hutton was quick to reassure claimants that “there is absolutely no question… of trying to make things harder for individuals…”

Under the plans to reform the welfare system, the Government is planning to scrap Incapacity Benefit and Jobseekers Allowance with a single Employment and Support Allowance for those whose health precludes them from working.

“The whole essence of the test has been changed and there have been around 70 changes made to it by the DWP,” said mental health welfare adviser Judy Stenger.

“All of them seem to make it harder for claimants to secure sickness status because of their mental health.”  

 

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