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People lose right to Incapacity Benefit
MORE than 100 people claiming Incapacity Benefit in Swindon have been declared fit to work after having their cases reviewed.
The Government is testing claimants before moving them on to Employment and Support Allowance, or the lower level of Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Out of 400 cases in Swindon, 120 were judged able to work and will receive Jobseeker’s Allowance, which requires claimants to seek employment.
Another 160 were deemed able to carry out some work in the future, possibly with support.
Former soldier John McGrath, 43, of Westlea, is among those who have been reassessed under the new system. He has moya moya brain disease and has suffered from stokes, which have led to loss of movement on the left-hand side of his body.
He said: “I had to undergo two tests. I failed the first but I appealed and I passed the second. I needed 15 points and I got nearly 40. It’s like they are trying to catch you out if you say the wrong thing.
“The veins connecting the back of my brain aren't connected properly and my next stroke will probably kill me, but it didn’t count the first time round.
“The knock-on effect was that they got in touch with the council and my housing benefit nearly got cancelled. I know someone who has mental health problems who had his ESA cancelled and reinstated.
“I would love to get a job but the stress of it all is only making people's problems worse.”
ESA was introduced in March last year for all new claimants who are unable to work through incapacity or illness. The Government is aiming to phase out Incapacity Benefit by 2014.
More than a third of IB claimants reassessed nationally have been judged fit to work.
The reviews started across the UK last April and will continue for the next two years.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber has accused the Government of wanting to remove benefits whatever the cost.
But the Department For Work And Pensions says it is not acceptable for people to spend a lifetime off work and it wants to support families back to employment.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: “These figures show how much of a waste of human life the system has been.
“Too many people have been languishing on benefits.
“We are providing support to those who need it, but it is right that those who are able to work should do so. It’s better to help people on the journey back to work than to leave them on benefits for the rest of their lives.”