Select Committee on Work and Pensions Third Report


404. The Government has taken a bold step in its declared 'aspiration' to reduce the incapacity benefits caseload by one million within ten years. It will undoubtedly be a challenge to achieve this but the Committee welcomes the Government's declared intention and will continue to monitor future progress.

405. The strategy set out by the Government in the Welfare Reform Green Paper requires further detailed work to achieve a reform programme that is able to provide appropriate support to ill or disabled people in moving from incapacity benefits into work. Again, we urge that, in designing and clarifying the details of the new Employment and Support Allowance and the range of support to help disabled people move off incapacity benefits and into work, DWP must work closely with all stakeholders including: employers, local authorities, other Government Departments, private and voluntary sector service providers, disabled people and disability organisations.

406. Finally, the Government's aspiration faces a potential barrier in the scale of the efficiencies challenge faced by DWP. The 2007 Spending Review presents an opportunity for ensuring adequate funding of the welfare reform programme. We hope the Department works closely with the Treasury to ensure that sufficient funds for incapacity benefits reform, Pathways to Work national roll-out and the full reform package are made available. Given that the 2006 Budget announced 5% annual reductions in the Department Expenditure Limit for the Department, it is important that schemes which offer the potential for savings over the long term, such as this one may, are not squeezed out.

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