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Duncan Smith plans changes to sickness benefit


Iain Duncan Smith is planning cuts to sickness benefit, meaning many claimants may be forced to take up some form of work, even if it’s just for a few hours.

The work and pensions secretary has claimed that the current system is too “binary” as claimants are either deemed fit or unfit for work, with no in-between. Instead, he believes Employment Support Allowance tests should be more personalised, so if someone is able to work for a few hours they are helped to do so.

Duncan Smith has claimed that “the most vulnerable people in our society” will be protected under the reforms. His announcement did not contain any official policy changes but instead he aims to “start a conversation” about the next stage of welfare reform.

He said:
“What we need is a "a system focused on what a claimant can do and the support they'll need, and not just on what they can't."

He added: "Nearly 11 million adults in the UK have a common mental health condition and people are much more likely to fall out of work if they do.
"We also know that being out of work for four weeks or more can actually effect people's mental health, even if the original reason for ill health was a physical one."

Labour has claimed that cutting benefits for people who are not able to work is punishing the disabled for government failures. The SNPs Social Justice and Welfare Spokeswoman Eilidh Whiteford has also criticised the changes, claiming that they would only lead to more hardship for people.

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