Monday, 26 January 2009


This is the headline in the Daily Express this morning. A bit dramatic I know but making the point that the new Welfare Reform Bill, to be debated by MPs on Tuesday, will require almost all of the 2.6 million people on incapacity benefit to make efforts to get a job. However, new claimants will be offered six interviews designed to help them get back to work, while existing claimants will be offered three. But the 1.2 million claimants aged over 50, however, will be offered only one.

The Government response is simply that this is better than what was there before!

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa May said the reforms would leave thousands of older workers on the shelf.

“Labour’s attempt at welfare reform just isn’t working,” she said, “They are recklessly writing off a key part of the population who need their help the most. Abandoning the over-50s on incapacity benefit is a huge waste of talent and potential. More than a quarter of the working population in the UK are over 50, and the economy will become more reliant on older workers as the population ages."

Not wanting to get over political but we think she is right.

More than 750,000 over-50s have been on incapacity benefit for more than five years, an increase of 100,000 in the past eight years.


Jen said...

I'm not sure whether this implies one work-focused interview and then the over-fifties are going to be left alone and continue to receive Incapacity Benefit; or one work-focused interview and then the over fifties are just put onto Job Seekers Allowance.

I know which of the above would save most money. This is a real fear for the disabled over fifty when there are no jobs out there.

Barrie Hopson said...

Excellent question Jen. I wish I knew the answer. As often seems to be the case these days the small print when it emerges comes out much later.