Half of folk on benefit ‘fit to work’

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ALMOST half the people in Derbyshire claiming incapacity benefit have been found ‘fit for work,’ it has been revealed.

The Department for Work and Pensions has so far reassessed 2,489 people in Derbyshire who have been claiming benefits – and 1,180 were considered able to take a job.

That is more than 47 per cent compared to the national average of 37 per cent and the East Midlands average of 41 per cent.

In Chesterfield of the 330 people assessed 150 - 46 per cent - were considered fit for work.

Bolsover topped the list of Derbyshire Times areas with 50 per cent of people claiming benefits found able to take a job. In NE Derbyshire the figure was 44 per cent.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the number of people found fit for work in Derbyshire showed why the benefits system was “in need of reform”.

He added: “These figures show how much of a waste of human life the current system has been. Too many people have been left languishing on benefits for too long.

“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 much better to help people on the journey back to work than to leave them on benefits for the rest of their lives.”

The review has also put those still eligible for incapacity benefits in to two groups – those who may be able to work in the future and those who will not.

In Derbyshire of the 1,300 people found still eligible for incapacity benefits, 710 were in the first group and 590 in the second.

In Chesterfield 30 per cent of people still eligible for benefits may be able to work in the future.

But disability charities have criticised the findings.

Penny Melville Brown, of Business Ability, which runs a programme funded by Bolsover District and Chesterfield Borough Councils to help disabled entrepreneurs start their own businesses, said: “I think you need to take in to account the number of appeals that are taking place against the findings and the amount that are successful.

“We all know the government is continuing to refine its work capability assessment process but there are lots of people who are not working because of health problems who would like to work, that is clearly my understanding, therefore there needs to be the right support and help available.”

She added: “It is well recognised that the assessments have not been good at picking up people with mental health issues. Also are there the jobs available for them?”

In February the Derbyshire Times reported the case of Stephen Hill, 53, of Duckmanton, died of a heart attack after being declared ‘fit to work.’

Nephew Joe Hill said this week: “My uncle that was passed fit and then passed away from the very condition he was originally signed unfit for work for. Yes it’s right that people that are fit to work being declared as so, but the underlying problem is the weakness of the test.

“I ask, how many of the people that have been declared fit, are currently appealing the decision?”

What do our Facebook friends think:

Martin Topley said: “Good to hear, I for one is sick of my taxes paying for their lifestyle.”

Helen Howard added: “But where r the jobs? Yes they are fit to work but there is no jobs to give.”

Michael Mason said: “Everybody is being tared with the same brush their are people who cant work for medical reasons and the doctors have said they cant work.”

Sharon T Hoare added: “My uncle is on disability as he had to have a metal bar put in his neck, cant use one arm and is not good on his feet. He would love a job but the job centre cant find him one which he will be able to do.”

Simon Redding said: “I think most of it is kicking disabled people when they’re down to save a few quid. Not a civilised approach.”

Geoff Hopwood added: “Unfortunately the fiddlers are ruining it for the genuine cases.”

Craig Mason said: “This country cannot afford it any longer full stop.”

Chris Marples added: “I fully agree that people should work if at all possible, but finding full time permanent work can be challenging. Disabled people need and deserve the support that they get, it’s just a shame people try to exploit the system.”