Isle of Man News - POSTED Fri 29-08-2014

Govt targets people on incapacity benefit

by Joanne Clague

Govt targets people on incapacity benefit - picture

People who receive incapacity benefits are to be assessed to see if they are fit for work.

The government is employing UK-based provider Dependability Ltd on a three-year contract. The last time assessments were made locally only a third of those tested were able to retain the benefit.

Around £18million will be paid out in long-term incapacity benefits this year but Treasury Minister Eddie Teare says the move is not just about clawing money back in times of 'increasing financial constraint'.

He said: 'This is not just about making cost savings, it is a genuine attempt to help people escape the benefits trap and realise their full potential.

'Leaving a person on long-term incapacity benefits without assessing whether they might be capable of doing some form of work would be wholly irresponsible of this Government. Not engaging with people in this way would have an adverse impact on the person claiming benefit, their family and the economy as a whole.'

Some 2,000 people in the Isle of Man have been claiming incapacity-related benefits for more than a year. Claimants will have a face to face assessment by a qualified healthcare professional and those deemed capable of performing some form of work will lose the benefits.

The assessments will be arranged when a person has been receiving incapacity related benefits for at least 28 weeks but could take place sooner. In the pilot scheme involving 202 claimants, one-third stopped claiming benefits before an assessment was undertaken, one-third were found to be incapable of work and continued to receive benefits, and one third were found to be capable of work and benefits payments were stopped.

The Isle of Man's director of public health Dr Parameswaran Kishore said: 'There is a body of research which suggests that people are better off in work than out of work, not only financially but in terms of their health and wellbeing, their self-esteem and the future prospects for themselves and their families.

'Scientific evidence demonstrates that when their health condition permits, returning sick and disabled people to work helps to promote recovery and rehabilitation. It also leads to better health outcomes, minimises the harmful physical, mental and social effects of long-term sickness absence, reduces the risk of long-term incapacity, permits full participation in society and improves
quality of life.'

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