Disability benefits claimants could still get payments after returning to work under government plans
Measures to get people back into the workforce are being considered amid labour shortages
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As part of the reforms to get people back into the workforce, the system used to assess eligibility for sickness benefits could be scrapped, with ministers describing the eligibility as a “perverse incentive to prove how sick you are”, The Times reports.
It could be replaced with a process that instead asks claimants to demonstrate what work they can do.
Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride is looking to change the benefits system after labour shortages have meant employment numbers have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.
An employment slump
In the autumn, Rishi Sunak asked Mr Stride to review the issues holding back workforce participation which is due to conclude early this year.
Last week, the Prime Minister said the government is looking at a range of measures to tackle inactivity, adding: “We need to look at how our welfare system is operating and is it operating in the way that we would like to make sure that we are supporting and incentivising people who can be, to be in work.”
It is understood a white paper is due to be published by the Department for Work and Pensions in the coming months, ahead of the spring budget. But it has yet to be decided when benefits might be halted after a claimant has got a job, according to The Times, with a system similar to the tapering of universal credit as people earn more under consideration.
On overhauling work capability assessments, a government source told the paper: “It’s very much not the case that we’d be relaxing assessments so you could be perfectly fit and claiming disability benefits, but it will be more about being supported into work and supported to do the things you can do, rather than incentivised to prove how incapable you are”.
The Times also reported that the Treasury is considering offering tax breaks to people for entering jobs.