Memorandum submitted by Child Poverty
Action Group (CPAG)
CPAG welcomes many aspects of the
Pathways to Work pilots, and recognises that they incorporate
some very positive elements. We believe that disabled people who
want and are able to work should be provided with the support
and encouragement that enables them to do so. Services and support
must be put in place to enable more disabled people to retain
or access employment.
We support the Government's determination
to improve service delivery for disabled people, and to provide
support to enable those who are able and willing to access employment
to do so. However, we believe all disabled people should have
access to improved services irrespective of whether they are able
to work or not.
The Government suggest that one million
workless disabled adults want to work. CPAG believe that the introduction
of compulsion and sanctions to force them to do so is wrong and
illogical. It is unjust to utilise an element of compulsion towards
some of the UK's poorest families and may actively damage an already
vulnerable group. It is stigmatising and will generate unnecessary
anxiety and ill will both amongst and towards recipients. It is
unnecessary because most disabled people who are able to work
want to work.
Disabled people continue to be disadvantaged
in the labour market. We are concerned that the new proposals
will pressurise the most vulnerable disabled people who may have
low educational qualifications and poor health into low paid,
unrewarding and stressful jobs which may exacerbate their condition
and may not leave them better off financially. This is at odds
with the Government's commitments on the eradication of poverty.
The Government must ensure that disabled
people have access to good quality jobs that enable them to fulfil
their potential and reflects their skill levels.
More should be done to ensure that
employers provide a safe and healthy working environment that
is appropriate and supportive for all disabled people and avoids
the onset of sickness or ill-health.
Research on health inequalities indicates
that living on a low income significantly increases the risk of
disability or ill health. People who are already out of work and
are reliant on benefits, are more likely to become disabled. A
financial safety net must be provided for disabled people who
are unable to work, or are severely disadvantaged in the labour
market. Reviewing benefit adequacy and take up must be an integral
part of reform of incapacity benefits.
Research indicates that disadvantaged
groupsparticularly from Black and minority ethnic communities
who also experience high levels of unemploymentare least
likely to apply for and/or receive disability benefits. We are
concerned that the most vulnerable groups who have the greatest
difficulties accessing the current system will be most disadvantaged
by a new and more complex system with higher levels of conditionality
1. CPAG welcomes the opportunity to respond
to the Work and Pensions Committee's inquiry into reform of incapacity
benefits and we are pleased that the Committee is addressing such
an important issue. The high level of poverty in households with
a disabled adult, a disabled child, or both, continues to be a
source of concern.
2. This submission draws on CPAG's commentary
on the DWP's Five Year Strategy sent to the DWP which is available
at www.cpag.org.uk. It starts with a general introduction that
outlines the main policy areas and considers our main concerns.
The main part of the submission addresses the questions outlined
in the Committee's inquiry.
3. We urge the Committee to include the
following issues within its inquiry into incapacity benefits:
The link between low income and poor
health and disability.
Inadequate benefit provision.
4. CPAG has recently published At Greatest
Risk: the children most likely to be poor.
Disability, sickness, ill health and depression are themes that
permeate all the chapters. This submission will focus on the needs
of disabled parents who span all the "at risk" groups.
Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Incapacity Benefits
5. Throughout this submission we will distinguish
between Incapacity Benefit which includes Severe Disablement Allowance
(SDA) (which we will refer to as IB) and "incapacity benefits".
6. Incapacity Benefit (IB)is designed
to replace earnings for people who are unable to work due to sickness
or disability. It is a non-means tested, taxable, contributory
benefit, payable to people of working age. It is payable to people
who have undergone a medical assessmentthe Personal Capability
Assessment (PCA)which considers their inability to carry
out various physical and mental functions. They must be currently
out of work and to have paid sufficient National Insurance contributions.
There are currently 2.7 million recipients of IB and SDA.
7. Incapacity benefitsinclude the
full range of benefits and tax credits available to disabled people,
including IB, SDA and Income Support (IS) with a disability premium.
Although this inquiry appears to be focused solely on IB, we discuss
other benefits where appropriate, including Disability Living
Allowance (DLA), a non-means tested benefit which is available
to disabled people who are both in and out of employment.
8. The Pathways to Work Pilots were introduced
in October 2003 with the express purpose of increasing the number
of IB recipients moving into paid work. They were evaluated by
the Social Policy Research Unit in 2004-05
(henceforth referred to as "the Pathways evaluation").
The implications of more longitudinal data will not be known for
some time. The Pathways to Work Pilots include:
Mandatory Work Focused Interviews
(WFI) for Benefit beneficiaries.
New specialist IB Personal Advisers,
focused on getting people back into employment.
Condition Management Programmes are
an improved form of rehabilitation provision which provide intensive
support which aims to help disabled people "understand their
condition", "understand its impact on their normal activities"
"regain confidence" and "return to some form of
employment or training and as normal a life as possible."
A "Choices" package of
9. From October 2005, Pathways to Work will
be extended to cover around one third of the country, and Pathways
provision will be available in the Jobcentre Plus districts whichaccording
to Jane Kennedy MPare "co-terminus with the 30 most
disadvantaged Local Authority Districts. This is going to mean
that, in terms of incapacity benefit recipients, the Pathways
approach will be available to around 900,000 people in total."
10. Jane Kennedy reports that "The
Pathways pilots draws on lessons from occupational health research
and clinical management which indicate that early intervention
and modified work are two of the most effective tools devised
to help people back to work, and they form central elements of
the "offer" to benefit claimants when they come through
Disability and Poverty
11. Disabled people are more likely to live
in poverty than non-disabled people because they are less likely
to be in paid employment, are more likely to be reliant upon benefits,
and they incur additional disability-related costs. Given ongoing
systemic problemssuch as inadequate benefit support, discrimination,
poor employment prospects and fragmented service provisionbecoming
disabled is an extremely stressful and costly process which is
likely to exacerbate underlying disadvantage for some of the UK's
most vulnerable people.
12. In a recent report from the Centre for
Analysis of Social Exclusion, Burchardt confirms that "individuals
are indeed at an increased risk of being poor after onset of disability,
relative to their own previous risk of being poor and given all
their (fixed) characteristics such as gender and educational qualifications."
13. The DWP report that, "compared
with a household with no disabled members, a household with at
least one disabled adult is 50% more likely to have a low income,
and one with a disabled child is 20% more likely. A household
with a disabled child and a disabled adult is twice as likely
to have a low income." However, the DWP emphasise that "These
figures cover income only, so the total will include disability
benefits but there is no deduction for any extra disability-related
costs." Poverty levels are therefore much higher.
They conclude "these disadvantages can lead to a high risk
of poverty and social exclusion.".
14. However, although the Government is
keen to reduce poverty and social exclusion among sick and disabled
people, and often utilises insightful and informed analysis. However,
this does not always lead to policy initiatives that directly
engage with the issues. CPAG believes that inadequate benefit
income and in-work povertywhich are failing to safeguard
people from living povertyshould be given a higher prominence
in the debate on incapacity benefit.
Causes of Poverty
15. Moving out of paid employment is likely
to trigger a significant drop in income. As Burchardt points out,
the onset of sickness or disability has an impact upon the whole
family. "Changes in the employment status of one individual
can have knock-on effects on other household members too."
She reports that loss of employment impacts differently upon different
households. For a lone parent, the impact is greatest, because
there is no other adult to compensate for a sudden drop in earnings.
However, even in couple household there is a financial impact
on the whole household. If the earner becomes disabled in a one-earner
couple household, the non-earning spouse is unlikely to access
paid employment to compensate for the drop in earnings because
they now have additional caring responsibilities, and the couple
is likely to become a non-earning household. Even if the non-earner
becomes disabled, the earner is quite likely to give up employment
in order to care for the disabled family member.
16. In-work poverty: 52% of poor
children live in a household in which a parent is in work.
Although in-work poverty is a problem for both disabled and non-disabled
parents, At Greatest Risk reveals higher rates of poverty
amongst disabled parents who work compared to non-disabled parents,
possibly due to "the amount and/or type of work open to disabled
parents . . . the likelihood is that disabled parents are more
likely to find low-paid and/or part-time work compared to non-disabled
17. Worklessness: There is also a
direct link between poverty and worklessnessa subject that
is close to the Government's heart. Although the Government claims
that it will provide security for those who cannot work, the primary
focus of most policy initiatives is on work as the route out of
18. Barriers to employment: The Government
acknowledges that disabled people face significant barriers to
employment. In Opportunity for all (fifth annual report)
the DWP report that "currently disabled people of working
age are around seven times as likely as non-disabled people to
be out of work. Over half of working-age people with a work-liming
disability are inactive compared with 11% of non-disabled people."
Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People produced
by the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, reports that "low
educational attainment translates into low skill and hence low
employability. In addition disabled people require support in
the form of equipment, transport, structural changes to their
working environment or support workers . . . A more integrated
response would improve disabled people's employment chances and
empower them to fulfil their roles and responsibilities."
As the TUC point out, the fact that 45% of people who moved from
IB onto to jobseeker's allowance (JSA)who are probably
amongst the closest to the labour marketwere still on benefit
a year later (compared with only 28% when non-disabled people
were included). This highlights the very real difficulties disabled
people are still experiencing accessing employment.
Given the barriers that exist, employment is proving to be an
unreliable and often unrealistic route out of poverty for many
19. Extra costs: Loss of income due
to the onset of sickness or disability is usually accompanied
by an increase in disability-related costs, which vary according
to the severity of the disability. Disabled people are at particular
risk of poverty because high living expenses (due to extra heating,
laundry costs and the need to finance special equipment, personal
support or goods and services) are compounded by a greatly reduced
earning capacity. The DWP accept that extra disability-related
costs "can take many forms."
Various approaches to measuring extra costs have been developed.
Most recently, the Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP)
has formulated budget standards for disabled people with different
needs arising from physical or sensory impairments. Developed
by disabled people themselves through a series of focus groups,
the budgets reveal the minimum resources necessary to meet disabled
people's needs, so that they would achieve a "level playing
field" with people without disabilities.
People who have become sick or developed a disability need additional
financial support to help them and their families adjust. It is
essential that extra costs be considered in any programme of reform
of incapacity benefits.
BenefitsAdequacy: The high levels
of poverty among disabled people indicate that benefits are not
providing an adequate financial safety net. It is hardly surprising
that IBwhich is currently a meagre £76.45is
failing to safeguard disabled people from living in poverty. Although
it is an "earnings replacement" benefit, rates are between
16% and 30% of average earnings.
If the incomes of people who are sick or disabled are to be protected,
the levels of IB need to be increased significantly. Although
the long term rate of IB is more generous than Jobseeker's Allowance
(JSA), 57% of children in workless couple households with at least
one disabled parentmany of whom are in receipt of incapacity
benefitsare in poverty. The longer-term nature of reliance
upon these benefits means that children may experience longer,
and in some case much longer, spells of being poor.
The continuing downward trend in benefits and support for those
of working age and outside the labour market is a part of the
overall problem. As Barnes and Baldwin argue, "If the 1980s
saw a trend towards increased coverage in benefits for disabled
people, this has been balanced by new restrictions and a steady
erosion of their living standards . . . Benefit reforms have reduced
the levels of income-replacement benefits, while also tightening
eligibility criteria, with damaging effects on independence and
autonomy as well as living standards. Disabled people were also
badly affected by the `simplification' of Income Support after
CPAG is concerned that the proposed reform is part of continuing
policies of a "tightening" and "targeting"
of disability benefits designed to replace earningswhich
has been integral part of New Labour's approach to social security
20. Take up: Improvements to disability
benefits have been introduced. However, as the DWP acknowledges,
"Increasing levels of benefits will not help people unless
the benefits are claimed."
Research indicates that disadvantaged groupsparticularly
from ethnic minority groups who also experience high levels of
unemploymentare least likely to apply.
21. Administration: The overall inadequacy
of the administrative system is also contributing to the difficulties
people suffering from sickness and disability face. The proposed
removal of thirty thousand staff from the DWP does not bode well
for the implementation of an ambitious programme of reform, and
it will undoubtedly have a major impact on existing services,
let alone new ones. One Parent Families (OPF) questions the financial
and moral efficacy of increased compulsion at the same time as
implementing cuts, arguing that increasing compulsion and sanctions
and introducing mandatory work-focused interviews (WFI) is likely
to be costly in budgetary terms and on staff time. Even with existing
staff levels DWP employees are struggling to cope.
Quoting a DWP evaluation, OPF note that advisers said that six
monthly review meetings contribute to "an increasingly pressurised
workload, and some reported that this was having a detrimental
effect on their ability to devote the required amount of time
to their case loaded customers." Staff cuts will inevitably
have an impact on front-line staff in Pathways to Work areas.
Causes of Disability
22. Low income: Although the Government
accepts that disability is a cause of poverty much less is made
of the fact that living on a low income increases the risk of
disabilityalthough this is startlingly borne out by extensive
research on health inequalities.
Burchardt confirms that "The onset of disability is by no
means a random occurrence. On the contrary, those who are already
disadvantaged are already at significantly greater risk of becoming
Although a number of inter-linking factors increase the likelihood
of becoming disabledincluding having low or no educational
qualifications and being out of workBurchardt identifies
"a close association between low household income and a high
risk of becoming disabled across all age groups."
Furthermore, as Jenkins and Rigg report, living on a low income
not only increases the likelihood of becoming sick and disabled,
but the average household income of those who become disabled
was already falling prior to the onset of disability.
It is not just low income that generates stress and ill-health,
high levels of inequality take their toll on the health of the
nation. Recent research highlights poorer health in countries
with high levels of inequality.
23. Worklessness: Of those children
living in poverty who live in a workless household, just over
half have at least one disabled parent. Of all workless couple
households with children, two-thirds have at least one disabled
It is crucial that people who, for whatever reason, are unable
to work have an income that protects them from the onset of disability
or ill health.
24. Poor working conditions: An increase
in conditions such as stress, depression and anxiety
indicates a link between being in low-paid, low status occupations
and the onset of sickness or disability. The Government accepts
that "a lack of job control, monotonous and repetitive work,
and an imbalance between effort and reward are associated with
a higher risk of coronary heart disease and other health problems"
and that "sustained, chronic and long-term stress is linked
to low control over life circumstances" which in turn is
linked to low social status.
Health and safety is also an issue. In 1999, the Health and Safety
Executive estimated that work-related stress costs employers at
least £353 million a year, and cost society at least £3.7
The Department of Health report that, "although work is generally
good for people's health, poor health and safety management increases
the risk of occupational disease and injury."
As Burchardt trenchantly observes, "We may be able to do
relatively little about the increased likelihood of ill health
at older ages, but we certainly can do something about the risk
of accidents at home, on the roads and at work, not to mention
the prevalence of illness and conditions which are caused or exacerbated
by poor living and working conditions."
Improving employment practices, and providing better paid jobs
is a crucial part of reducing work-related ill health.
25. Social and educational disadvantage:
The Social Exclusion Unit report that "Evidence shows
that low incomes, non-employment, and low education all independently
increase the probability of someone becoming disabled. Many of
these risk factors are amenable to policy intervention. Often
the onset of ill health or disability deepens pre-existing disadvantage."
Shockingly, a recent report reveals that having no educational
qualifications raises the odds of disability onset by over 55%,
which greatly increases the risk of being out of work or in low
Child Poverty and Disabled Parents
26. There are 12.5 million children in the
UK, of whom 3.5 million live in poverty (After Housing Costs).
There are around 1.7 million disabled parents (some of whom live
with other disabled parents), and around 2.2 million children
in their care. Around 12% of all parents are disabled, and 17%
of children have at least one disabled parent.
Disability and lone parenthood are also linked. One quarter of
lone parents have a long-standing illness or disability.
27. Nearly 800,000or 38% (After Housing
Costs) of the 2.1 million children with disabled parentsare
living in poverty.
Given that current statistics seriously under-estimate the incidence
of poverty (see above) this figure is likely to be much higher.
28. Like all disabled people, disabled parents
face barriers to employment. While couples with children where
neither is disabled have an employment rate of 97%, this drops
to 78% when at least one of the couple is disabled. For non-disabled
lone parents, the employment rate is almost 60%, for disabled
lone parents it is almost 40%.
Given the difficulties disabled parents experience accessing paid
employment, it is important that financial security is provided
via the benefit system. The new system must be designed in such
a way that it supports, and does not sabotage, the Government's
policy to eradicate child poverty.
29. There are just under 100,000 children
in a household in which an adult is a claimant of IB or SDA.
There are 969,000 children living in families in receipt of key
disability benefitsIB, SDA and DLAplus additional
allowances payable for all dependent children in families receiving
income related benefits. Recent figures are affected by the introduction
of Child Tax Credit (CTC) in April 2003 which has added to the
total number of children.
This group of children face a higher risk of poverty than is prevalent
in the wider population.
Ways out of poverty
30. For many people work is an effective
route out of poverty. Seventy seven per cent of children are poor
in households in which no adult is in paid work, compared with
3% of children in households with two full-time workers.
The Government should be commended for the continuing relatively
low rate of unemployment and its moves against discrimination
in terms of both disability and age.
31. Progress has been made. Although this
may be limited, general Government policies have already reduced
unemployment and increased the number of disabled people moving
into work. The most effective way to speed up this process is
to give those who want to work the help they need.
32. The DWP claims that "A million
of the disabled people who are out of work say they would like
to work. Many others are fully capable of working and are willing
and expect to work if they are given the right support. It is
only a minority of disabled people for whom work is not currently
If the Government believes that a million plus IB recipients can
and want to work, there is no need to introduce conditions that
compel them to seek employment.
33. We fully agree that, with adequate support
and appropriate employment opportunities, many disabled people
would like to engage in some form of paid work. There is, however,
absolutely no need to compel people who want to work to do so.
34. Encouraging employers to implement changes
to the workplace environment, improve health and safety standards,
and adapt job specifications may prevent people from developing
a disability or ill health, and/or enable more disabled people
to retain employment after they become sick or disabled.
35. Both the Pathways evaluation and the
Government itself emphasise that one of the strengths of the Pathways
to Work Pilots is the high level of interest it generated despite
the lack of compulsion. The Pre-Budget Report 2004 confirms that
"the pilots are also generating significant interest from
existing IB claimants in the pilot district, who are currently
not required to take part in the programme."
36. One way of reducing poverty, improving
health and helping people access paid employment is addressing
benefit adequacy and ensuring that all disabled peopleparticularly
the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groupsreceive their
full benefit entitlement. For the moment however, although research
indicates that the provision of welfare benefits advice in primary
care settings leads to an improvement in health,
the importance of independent benefit advice is not being emphasised.
A more joined-up approach is needed to the provision and adequacy
of benefits generally.
Incapacity benefit must be significantly
uprated to ensure that it reflects the additional costs incurred
by disabled people.
DLA should be reviewed in the light
of additional costs, and action taken to ensure that disabled
people get all the benefits to which they are entitled.
The adequacy of carer's allowancea
derisory £45.70must be an integral part of the overall
reform of incapacity benefits. The needs of the whole family must
be taken into consideration when assessing levels of financial
The very low levels of income support
and of jobseeker's allowance keep family income well below the
poverty the line and therefore increase the likelihood of disability
and ill-health, and fail to protect sick or disabled people who
are not receiving the disability benefits to which they are entitled.
Preventative measures must include a review of these two benefits.
37. We would like to emphasise that, although
we do not believeto use the DWP's questionable phrasethat
disabled people should be "written off", we do challenge
the notion that people who not in paid employment are necessarily
failing to achieve their potential. Many disabled people who are
not in employment lead rich and fulfilling lives and contribute
a great deal to society. Many have additional caring responsibilities,
which should be recognised and valued. As with everybody, disabled
people should be given choicesabout services and employment.
38. We urge the Government not to utilise
language which appears to criticise recipients of benefits. Ill-considered
ministerial outbursts about people "languishing on benefits"
and Britain being overwhelmed by a "sick note culture"
and most recently Blunkett's advice to benefit recipients to "stop
watching daytime television"
are inflaming a tabloid feeding frenzy when it comes to people
on incapacity benefit. As Lorna Reith points out, headlines such
as "Shame of `disabled shirkers'" (Express on
27 June 2004) and "Jobless steered onto sick list" (Sunday
Times 12 September 2004) are neither accurate nor helpful.
We urge the Government to use more temperate language when discussing
2. REFORMS TO
2.1 What lessons can be learned from the Pathways
to Work pilots in shaping the direction of the reform of incapacity
39. CPAG welcomes many aspects of the Pathways
to Work pilots. We believe that disabled people who want and are
able to work should be provided with the support and encouragement
that enables them to do so.
40. We warmly welcome the Government's acceptance
that current rates of incapacity benefit (IB) are inadequate,
and commend its commitment to increase levels. We welcome the
DWP's recognition of the crucial role employers can play in helping
sick or disabled people to retainor returnto paid
employment. Employers can also play a crucial role in preventing
the onset of disability and ill health.
41. We are pleased that Pathways to Work
recognises that the provision of better specialist supportincluding
new rehabilitation servicesmust form an integral part of
any programme that seeks to increase employment rates amongst
42. There are currently around 2.7 million
IB claimants. However, as discussed above, a distinction must
be made between the 2.7 million people claiming IB, and the 1.7
The remainder receive "credits only" IB.
Although the number of people applying for IB has increasedin
part because of an increase in the number of women accessing paid
employment, and an ageing populationthe number of people
receiving IB has in fact been falling. Between 1995 and 2005,
the total number of beneficiaries of IB fell from 2.2 million
to 1.7 million.
If the overall trend is going in the right direction, why is the
Government so keen to change the system? Furthermore, as the TUC
points out, "If IB hasn't caused the increase, then reforming
it won't solve the problem."
43. Although we welcome the underlying ethos
of the Pathways to Work pilots, we feel that it is very much a
reactive rather than a proactive initiative. While the reforms
address some of the issues that may deter some disabled people
from accessing paid employmentsuch as concerns about leaving
benefits, problems accessing support services, and discrimination
amongst employersthey do not give adequate weight to preventative
and protective measures. We are concerned that Pathways to Work
fails to address the underlying social, educational and financial
problems which precede disability. The DWP needs to take these
issues on board, and incorporate benefit adequacy and access,
low educational achievement and in-work poverty, as part of their
44. We would like to emphasise that it is
still very early days, and the long-term implications of the Pathways
experiment are not yet evidentfor example regarding sustainability
and quality of jobs accessed. Furthermore, the client group that
responded best to the Pathways model were those closest to the
labour market. We are concerned that the quality of employment
opportunities may decline as the pilots start to target much more
vulnerable client groupssuch a people with mental health
problems or fluctuating conditions. Their situation needs to be
monitored closely to ensure that they do not feel compelled to
undertake jobs that are not in their financial, psychological
or physical best interests.
45. The fact that the current strategy is
oriented towards supply and almost totally neglects demand is
a source of concern. Ensuring that appropriate, well-supported
jobs are available must be central part of the overall reform
programme. The provision of better quality, better paid jobs is
a crucial part of reducing work-related ill health.
46. Until the full impact of the Disability
Discrimination Act has set in and perceptions and attitudes have
truly been changed, it is unlikely that there will be enough sensitive
and informed employers to generate jobs for the large numbers
of disabled people the Government is hoping will move off IB and
47. We are also concerned that when there
is down-turn in the economy and a contraction of the labour market,
vulnerable and disadvantaged people who have accessed the labour
market most recently may be the first to lose their jobs. As Professor
David Piachaud writes in At Greatest Risk "Recession
brings unemployment and worsening employment opportunities for
those such as lone parents on the margins of employment: it tends
to add to poverty. It may be true that a `rising tide lifts all
boats equally' but a falling tide leads the most vulnerable boats
scraping the bottom."
48. We have a number of additional concerns
about the increase in compulsion which we outline below:
(a) If the Government believes that "one
million disabled people are willing and able to work" why
are they targeting a larger group of non-working disabled people
who are neither able nor willing to seek out paid employment?
Given the many barriers that disabled people continue to face
we feel that attempts to compel people who are not ready to workor
are only too aware that they are unlikely to find jobs that would
suit their capabilitiesto seek paid employment is not only
questionable and inhumane, but it is illogical and counter-productive.
(b) We have particular concerns about disabled
people, many of whom may have been seriously disadvantaged by
the educational system and continue to be disadvantaged in the
labour market, being "encouraged"or pushedto
participate in paid employment that may be part-time, low-paid,
or stressful and unrewarding. We fear that this may be exactly
the kind of employment that disabled people are likely to access
if compelled to seek work.
(c) Encouraging people to access poorly paid
employment may reduce the direct cost of IB to the Government
in the short term, but it will not significantly increase the
incomes of some of the UK's most disadvantaged groups and may
generate increased costs in the long termto both individuals
and to societydue to worsening health.
(d) There is no evidence that the use of
compulsion, punishments and sanctions is effective. Nor do financial
sanctions that result in plunging vulnerable people further into
poverty change behaviours that are rooted in intractable health,
educational or social problems.
(e) Compulsion also carries an attendant
stigma with employers. The Government is well aware that employers
treat people who are encouraged to access work in a mechanistic
way as part of employment programmes quite differently from those
who actively seek it out.
(f) The efficacy of increased conditionality,
compulsion and sanctions must be reviewed in the light of its
failure to reduce poverty in the UK or other countries.
2.2 What are the implications of DWP's proposals
for the new structure of incapacity benefits?
49. Although the DWP appears to be reviewing
whether the introduction of two separate benefits is appropriate
or feasible, it seems likely that a dual system will be established
with "different systems for different people with varying
rates, rules and requirements" which will distinguish between
people with "more manageable" and "severe"
Until the situation is clarified, our understanding of the DWP's
proposals for the new structure of IB are as follows:
Once new applicants for IB have passed
the Personal Capability Assessment (PCA), they will attend an
"employment and support assessment" which will decide
what benefit a person should be placed on, and whether they are
able to participate in work-related activities.
Until a decision has been made about
the severity of a person's disability and their ability to undertake
work-related activities, they will be placed on a "holding
benefit" which will be about the same level as JSA (around
£55 a week).
The strategy includes the roll out
of compulsory work-focused interviews (WFI) and the requirement
that most claimants engage in "activity that helped them
prepare for a return to work".
People who are designated as able
to undertake work-focused activities, will be placed on the lower
rate IBcurrently called "Rehabilitation Support Allowance".
These claimants will be able to increase the basic rate of £55
a week by attending WFI, and "taking steps to get them back
in the market". The new rate will be higher than the current
IB rate. However, people who are unwilling or unable to engage
in such activities will be returned to the "holding benefit".
It is anticipated that the vast majority of disabled people will
be placed onto a benefit with this level of conditionality.
A small percentage of people (probably
around 20%) who are deemed to have more severe disabilities will
be placed on a higher rate benefitcurrently called the
"Disability Sickness Allowance". Although they will
not be expected (but may choose) to engage in "activity that
helps them to prepare for a return to work", they will have
to attend compulsory WFIs as they do now in the Pathways to Work
The Government has indicated that
benefit rates for IB will be increased, and this is very welcome.
50. We outline our concerns about these
(a) We are concerned at the proposal to introduce
a "holding" benefit for new claimants to IB, at JSA
rates. Four out of every five children in a family receiving JSA
are left in poverty by a benefit that is supposed to provide a
financial "safety" net. If it is failing to safeguard
families from poverty whether or not they have health problems,
it is unlikely to protect somebody who is likely to be under considerable
stress, and to incur additional costs associated with the onset
of disability or ill health. The relationship between ill-health
and poverty indicates that a dramatic reduction in income at a
particularly difficult time, is likely to exacerbate underlying
health problems, and may undermine rehabilitation attempts during
the early monthsthe
very time when individuals are most likely to come off the benefit.
(b) We are concerned that introducing sanctions
and penalties may result in IB becoming an erratic source of income,
with an endless round of assessments, sanctions and appeals leading
to people's incomes fluctuating wildly.
(c) The Government emphasise that "people
who are eligible for incapacity benefits when their health problem
means it is unreasonable to require them to seek out work, not
when work becomes impossible for them".
We feel that this distinction must be maintained. Although the
PCA will be coupled to an employment and support assessment which
will "help clients and advisers focus more fully on how they
can best plan a return to work"
for the moment if the PCA indicates that it is not "reasonable"
to work, the person is placed on IB. It is therefore "unreasonable"
to expect them to engage in work-focused activities if they do
not feel able to do so.
(d) We are concerned that a recently disabled
parent who is unable to engage in work-focused activities, perhaps
because of a combination coping with their own health problems
or disability alongside their caring responsibilities, may incur
benefit sanctions. People's parenting responsibilities should
be taken into account when assessing their capability for work.
Both parents and children are likely to be plunged into poverty
if a parent returns to the "holding benefit" because
of their inability to engage in work-focused activities.
(e) We are concerned that a disabled person
with parenting responsibilities who fails the PCA may have less
time and energy to appeal a decision and be placed on JSA whereaccording
to the TUCthey are likely to stay for a very long time.
This is very likely to place the family in poverty which will
have an adverse impact on their health, their ability to care
for their children, and their long-term chances of employment.
(f) Disability Alliance has raised concerns
that if a lone parent becomes disabled, or a disabled person becomes
a lone parent, they may well have to give up work because of difficulties
managing their health problems alongside their caring responsibilities.
They will be placed on the "holding benefit" and will
have to go through a whole system of sanctions and WFIs. This
would notquite rightlyhappen to a disabled lone
parent who is not in work. There will be two systems in operation
for disabled parents whose situation is the same.
2.3 Do they address the complications inherent
in the existing incapacity benefits system?
51. There are a number of problems with
(a) Adequacy: CPAG does not think
that IB provides an adequate level of financial support. We accept
that people with more severe and complex disabilities incur greater
costs than people with less severe or less complex needs. However,
incapacity benefit should provide a bedrock of financial support
for all disabled people who are currently out of work.
(b) Take-up: The Government argues
that IB is part of a package of support for disabled people, which
includes DLA and disability premiums within income support and
tax credits. However, access to disability benefits is an erratic
business. People with mental health problems are particularly
poorly served by the benefit system.
Some sick people may not qualify for DLA, and people with fluctuating
conditions may find it much harder to satisfy DLA tests.
Ensuring that disabled people receive their full benefit entitlement
must be an integral part of the new system.
(c) Given the regularity with which DLA is
reviewed, downrated and removedplunging people back onto
basic income rate supportsincome support (IS) levels must
be viewed as an integral part of the financial package for disabled
(d) People who find the new system particularly
stressful and difficult to navigate may simply give up trying
to get the disability benefits to which they are entitled. This
situation will do little to address poverty, and will make the
situation for some vulnerable groups.
(e) Low paid work and worklessness:
Insurance-based benefits discriminate against people who have
an incomplete contribution record. IB is only available to people
who have paid sufficient national insurance (NI) contributions.
People in low paid, part-time work, and people who have been out
of employment for many years, do not qualify. People who have
passed the PCA but have not paid sufficient NI contributions may
be entitled to other disability benefits, but these are difficult
to access and are usually paid at a lower rate than IB. Furthermore,
research indicates that people who become severely disabled (as
gauged by the number of different health problems or impairments
they report) are less likely to have been working before the onset
These people do not qualify for IB (although they may qualify
for additional supportsuch as DLA, and disability premiums
within IS). They therefore receive a lower level of support than
people who have worked. Some disabled parentsmany of them
womenmay not qualify for IB because of difficulties accessing
employment due to a combination of disability and parenting responsibilities,
or problems with low paid employment. The current system is failing
to safeguard the income of some disabled parents, and this runs
directly counter to the Government's commitment on the eradication
of child poverty. CPAG believes that all disabled people should
have access to an appropriate level of income, irrespective of
whether they have worked or not. Indeed individuals who have never
worked are likely to need the greatest assistance.
(f) Poor medical assessments: There
are continuing problems with people who are disabled and are entitled
to IB failing the PCA due to poor medical assessments.
Nearly 55% of appeals for IB (PCA) are successful.
We are concerned about people who may simply accept an incorrect
decision, and not receive the IB to which they are entitled.
(g) Benefits: a disincentive to work?
A report by the IPPR indicates that it is a "central
paradox that people are required to demonstrate their incapacity
for work to gain access to benefits while having to prove their
capacity for work to employers to move off benefits and into employment".
The report highlights the fact that "people fear losing benefits
if they look for work which proves unsustainable. The benefit
system needs to be sufficiently flexible to deal with the dynamic
nature of disability and the risks of moving into work need to
Giving people the choice to engage in work-focused activities
without jeopardising their incapacity benefit award resolves one
of the dilemma's inherent within the current system.
(h) Linking rules: We welcome
changes to the linking rules which mean that people will be able
to return to their previous level of IB if their employment does
not work out. However, we are concerned about people who may access
inappropriate and/or unsustainable employment. How often will
claimants be able to return to their previous level of IB without
having to go through the whole system again?
(i) We understand that the DWP is keen
to remove any possible confusion about the possibility of receiving
benefits and being in paid employment. Although we agree that
the current system is complex and potentially confusing, there
are many situations in which it is right and appropriate for somebody
who is in receipt of out of work benefitssuch as IBto
engage in a limited amount of paid work activity without losing
their benefit entitlement. This right must be clarified and safeguarded
within the new system.
(j) We welcome the brief statement in
the DWP's Five Year Strategy that the new incapacity benefits
will not be time-limited. However given the apparent use of JSA
type-structures in the proposed new benefits, and in particular
the lack of detail about the mix of means-tested and non-means-tested
provisions, no-one on any of the new incapacity benefits must
have their entitlement time-limited.
52. The way in which the new system will
interact with other disability benefits needs clarification
Moving into employment: Accessing
paid employment usually triggers a reassessment of somebody's
entitlement to DLAsomething many disabled people are unaware
will happen. The new system may increase the likelihood of a person's
DLA being downrated or removed.
Personal Advisers: high levels
of successful appeals for DLA (around 55%)
indicate that decision makers do make mistakes assessing an individual's
care and mobility needs on the basis of medical reports. Personal
advisers will also be making complex decisions about their client's
capacity to work and may be reliant on sometimes misleading or
inaccurate medical reports. Their assessment may have an impact
on that person's DLA application or award. This will leave people
who have recently become disabled struggling to access IB and
DLA at the same time.
2.4 Is a dual benefit the right approach?
53. Given the problems the DWP has experienced
administering IB in its current form (hence the high levels of
successful appeals) we are concerned about their ability to administer
a more complex system, particularly at a time when significant
Jobcentre Plus staff cuts have been threatened.
54. We are concerned that the most vulnerable
groups who have the greatest difficulties accessing the current
system will be most disadvantaged by a new and more complex system
with higher levels of conditionality and penalties.
55. We would strongly urge the Government
to avoid introducing a system which replicates the complexities
inherent within DLA, which may result in low take up.
56. We outline our specific concerns about
a dual system below:
What provision will there be for
moving between the proposed Rehabilitation Support Allowance and
the Disability and Sickness Allowance (or a single benefit with
different conditions and requirements)? People with fluctuating
conditions will be at risk of constant re-assessments of their
health and ability to undertake work-focused activities. Some
people may simply fall out of the system. We believe that claimants
who disagree with the decision on their entitlement and/or whose
condition changes should be able to apply for revision and appeal.
What safeguards will there be for
claimants subject to mandatory requirements? If the element of
compulsion is retained, we believe that the new system should
ensure that appropriate exemptions are available for some people.
We have already outlined our concerns
about placing an extremely vulnerable client group onto an inadequate
holding benefit at a time when they need additional financial
support to help with the transition from being non-disabled to
being disabled. What safeguards will there be for claimants subject
to benefit penalties for non-compliance? CPAG argues that there
should be an independent right of appeal on good cause grounds,
with the same time limits that apply to other appeals. Under current
rules (for example in the Jobcentre Plus and Pathways to Work
Pilots), claimants in effect have to claim good cause within five
working days and we believe that this is an insufficient safeguard,
especially if the "good cause" is severe mental health
We are concerned that people who
are placed on the long-term benefit will be required to attend
an endless round of WFIs even if this is inappropriate.
We are concerned that having a dual
system will facilitate invidious comparisons between people qualifying
for different incapacity benefits, and this may increase the stigma
associated with being on benefits and impact upon take up. Having
one benefit will make it more difficult for media to divide disabled
people into the deserving and undeserving poor.
2.5 Could a dual system be improved?
57. We do not think having two separate
incapacity benefits is either appropriate or advisable.
58. We strongly oppose the idea that compulsion
or sanctions should be introduced within either rate.
2.6 Will the reforms help to improve work
incentives for sick and disabled people?
59. Like the Government, we believe that
many disabled people of working age would like to work and have
a right to do so. Given the stigma that is all too often associated
with being on benefits, paid employment can bring significant
psychological benefitsincluding a sense of self-worth and
social inclusion. There are already clear incentives to access
60. Providing a high level of support and
encouragement may give somebody the confidence they need to try
out employment. However, compulsion may trigger anxiety and actually
reduce somebody's ability and willingness to try out paid work.
61. If the Government believes that a million
plus IB recipients can and want to work, there is no need to introduce
conditions that compel them to seek employment. If disabled people
are unable to work, however much they would like to be able to
do so, forcing them to attend compulsory WFI and engage in job-related
activities is likely to be counter-productive.
it is unjustto utilise an
element of compulsion towards some of the UK's poorest families
and may actively damage an already vulnerable group;
it is stigmatisingand will
generate unnecessary anxiety and ill will both amongst and towards
it is unnecessarybecause most
disabled people who are able to work want to work.
62. If presented in a positive, non-pressurising
way, the range of services and the support of Personal Advisers
will attract people who are willing and able to work to utilise
63. Pathways is supposed to facilitate a
flexible approach to employment, encouraging options like part-time
work and work trials to give people the opportunity to try out
work whilst they are in receipt of benefit. More specific strategies
could be put in place to enable disabled peopleand employersto
engage in reassuring "job tasters", which may reduce
anxieties and prejudices on both sides. For the moment there is
little evidence that employers are providing the sort of flexible
job trials that clients would welcome.
64. At Greatest Risk reports that
only 42,000 in-work families with children are in receipt of the
disabled element of Working Tax Credit (WTC). This means many
disabled parents who move into work are not accessing support
to which they are entitled.
Ensuring that people know about WTC, and the interaction with
other benefits, must be an integral part of the employment services.
65. We believe that work incentives would
be greatly increased if childcare costs were recognised in the
new benefits. Currently WTC allows couples where one is incapacitated
to get childcare costs. Furthermore, WTC rules recognise the incapacitated
partner may need help with childcare. The acknowledgement that
additional support is needed for childcare should be included
in any reform of incapacity benefits.
66. Pathways to Work was of little assistance
to people who were furthest from the labour market. The provision
of irrelevant and untimely interventions was considered to be
intrusive and inappropriate by this client group, who "felt
pressurised to pursue vacancies when they did not feel ready or
which they felt were unsuitable".
67. The Government reports that "The
population of disabled people includes wheelchair users, blind
people and deaf people . . . but the majority of disabled people
have other (often less visible) impairments. Among adults, trends
in impairment show increasing numbers reporting mental illness
and behavioural disorders, while the number of people reporting
physical impairments is decreasing."
People with physical disabilities or sensory impairments may find
it easier to access employment than people with "invisible"
disabilities. Utilising sanctions and penalties to force people
with mental health and behavioural disorders into work irrespective
of their readiness or ability to do so, is not only likely to
have a negative impact on their health, but it likely to inflame
discrimination and exacerbate rather than reduce an underlying
reluctance amongst employers to employ them.
68. The Government recognises that people
with mental health illness face significant barriers accessing
paid employment. The element of sanctions and compulsion within
the system will not resolveand is likely to exacerbateproblems
accessing employment for this client group. This is discussed
69. The Pathways evaluation reveals that
"some people were reluctant to risk disrupting stable incomes,
thought low paid work would not be worthwhile financially, or
faced debt recovery from earned income" that "for several
men financial pressures and debts grew as the length of benefit
claims increased' and "managing debts by staying on benefits
and safe from creditors was a powerful influence on some people".
If being on benefits is closely associated with being in debt,
and being in debt is a major reason for not leaving benefits,
ensuring that people in receipt of benefit receive a sufficient
income to prevent the accumulation of debt would resolve one possible
barrier to employment.
70. The reforms do not give sufficient weight
to the fact that paid employment is not necessarily a route of
poverty for everybody. At Greatest Risk reveals that, in
workless couple households, the risk of poverty is lower for children
with disabled parents (57%)who may receive additional disability
benefitsthan for non-disabled parents (73%)who are
more likely to be on JSA.
However, although the risk of child poverty does reduce for both
groups if they move into employment, the risk differential changes.
When non-disabled couples move into work the risk of child poverty
goes down from 73% to 12%, but for disabled couples it reduces
from 57% to 17%. For lone parents the risk of a child living in
poverty in a workless household with a non-disabled or a disabled
lone parent are roughly similar49% and 51% respectively.
The risk of poverty does go down substantially for both groups
when a lone parent moves into work, however the risk of child
poverty is now higher for a disabled lone parent (20%) than for
a non-disabled lone parent (14%). These statistics indicate that
"although having a disabled parent in workless household
can insulate the children from poverty (because of additional
incapacity benefits), having a disabled parent in a household
where one parent works makes poverty more likely again, probably
due to the amount and type of work open to disabled parents. Furthermore,
the employment opportunities of the non-disabled partner may be
affected, particularly if employment has to be combined not only
with arranging childcare (as for all families) but also with looking
after the disabled parent. These effects on parent and partner
employment give non-disabled parents a greater chance of leaving
poverty when entering work than disabled parents."
The risk of poverty is higher for working disabled parents than
for working non-disabled parents.
2.7 Is it possible to distinguish between
those who are able to return to work and those who cannot?
71. CPAG believe that the best person to
decide whether somebody is able to return to work is disabled
72. The high level of successful appeals
for incapacity benefits (around 55% for both IB and DLA) highlights
the difficulties that trained medical practitioners experience
making these judgements.
73. We would like to emphasise the importance
of effective administration and the need for advisers to be appropriately
trained to undertake what are very subtle and subjective decisions.
However, we are not convinced that additional training is sufficient
to enable overworked DWP employees to make such decisions.
74. Personal Advisers receive three months'
training. It is highly unlikely that this will equip them with
the skills and sensitivities they need to assess an individual's
degree of labour market disadvantage which does not necessarily
relate to the severity of disability. Although Personal Advisers
will not undertake medical assessments themselves, they will have
to analyse medical reports (which may be inaccurate) and decide
whether or not to refer somebody for further assessment. Inappropriate
decisions may put their relationships with their clients under
75. Although the evaluation of Pathways
does not specifically address the needs of disabled parents, there
are many references to "family responsibilities" impacting
on a disabled person's ability and willingness to engage in work-focused
activities or avail themselves of services. For example, the researchers
report that some clients viewed an interview eight weeks after
their claim as too soon when they viewed "other matters,
such as family problems and their health, as taking priority"
and "there were also people who felt they had urgent domestic
and family issues to resolve before committing themselves to doing
anything about work".
Parental or caring responsibilities must be taken into consideration
when assessing a disabled person's ability to access employment.
2.8 What are the implications of the reforms
on levels of fraud and error?
76. Given that the incidence of fraud amongst
applicants for IB is almost non existent the reforms are unlikely
to have a much of an impact one way of the other. Majornot
to say intrusive and often painfulmedical checks and assessments
have already been put in place which render it very difficult
for people to access the disability benefits to which they are
entitled. The Government itself publicly acknowledges that fraud
amongst incapacity claimants is extremely low. Addressing a Social
Market Foundation seminar on IB, Jane Kennedy MP stated "While
it is taken very seriously where it occurs, fraud in the sense
of blatant misrepresentation of condition or claiming whilst working
full-time appears exceptional for this customer group and the
level of measured fraud is extremely low".
2.9 Will the reforms address the main areas
of concern with the current system?
77. The TUC points out, "Restricting
eligibility doesn't make people who have genuine illnesses and
impairments get betterthey just have to apply for a different
benefit". We are concerned about the possibility of displacement
from IB onto a much less generous income support, recipients of
which "are likely to be among the most vulnerable of the
Targeting disabled people who are on income support is certainly
inappropriate, and is unlikely to be popular. Although targeting
people on IB instead may be easier to sell to the media, it does
not engage with the real problem whichas we have emphasised
throughout this submissionis the need for more robust and
innovative preventative measures which robustly address underlying
financial, educational and social disadvantage.
78. Although in Opportunity for all:
fifth annual report in the section on disabled people and
carers the DWP reports that "Our emphasis is on helping the
family as a whole"
there is little evidence of such an approach informing reform
of incapacity benefits. A failure to take a holistic approach
to disabilitywhich affects the whole familyand address
the needs of disabled parents will seriously disadvantage children
who are at the greatest risk of living in poverty, and will undermine
the Government's strategy on the eradication of poverty.
79. One of the main problems with the current
system is that people who are most at risk of disability are least
well protected. People who have been in steady, well remunerated
employment (who are less likely to become disabled in the first
place) are better protected by a national insurance system or
private insurance than people who are on benefits, are in low
paid employment, or have broken work historiesall of whom
have a higher risk of becoming disabled. Reform of IB needs to
resolve this damaging paradox.
80. Personal Advisers are supposed to "explain
the range of financial support available to help people move back
to work". However, the evaluation of Pathways indicates that
"a small number of criticisms centred on Personal Adviser's
apparent lack of knowledge about benefit entitlement and the client's
Ensuring that applicants receive the advice and support they need
to access their full benefit entitlement must be an integral part
of the process.
81. Poor decision making in the current
system does not bode well for the efficient administration of
the proposed new system, which adds another layer of complexity
and increases the potential for wrong decisions being made, not
simply about a person's capability to work, but about whether
they have been put on the "right" benefit.
82. If individuals are to be held on a lower
rate of "holding benefit" pending an assessment of eligibility,
then this assessment needs to be provided swiftly and efficiently.
Sufficient resources are needed to ensure that the assessment
process is effective and consistent, to avoid generating high
levels of appeals and the potential for "postcode" lottery.
83. What, if anything, will happen to income
support on the basis of incapacity for work? Will it be absorbed
into the new benefits? If so, what provision will there be for
passporting entitlement to, for example, housing costs, the social
fund and health benefits?
84. What will happen to people who currently
receive IB? Will they receive additional payments to bring their
income in line with new claimants to IB who will receive a higher
benefit, or will this be directly linked with their ability and
willingness to engage in work-focused activities?
85. What system will be put in place to
ensure that people who are incapacitated in youth can access the
new benefits, as they are able to do under the current system?
3. THE FUTURE
3.1 How successful have the Pathways
to Work pilots been? Does the current design need adapting for
86. The underlying ethos of Pathways to
Work is that "Return to work should be a positive and realistic
option". We welcome this principle which should certainly
inform the reform of IB benefits. However, we are concerned that
the proposed staffing cuts will impede the success of a new programme
87. Pathways to Work seems best able to
help those who are nearest the labour market. However, the Pathways
evaluation indicates that while people who were ready and able
to move into work also found the information and support provided
to be useful, others felt disappointed and frustrated at the lack
of support and the difficulties they experienced finding appropriate
jobs, perhaps because their expectations were unrealistic, or
because their health had deteriorated.
It is important that Pathways to Work does not arouse false expectations
about employment opportunities, which may lead to disappointment
88. Although significant resources have
been directed into the Pathways Pilots (which we fear will not
be replicated in the national rollout), they were of limited assistance
to people who were unable or unwilling to think about accessing
employment and were perceived as a negative experience by this
89. Although the IB reforms appear to engage
with the complexities of disability by promising to provide a
range of services and support, they are in fact focused on promoting
a single and simple solution: paid employment. The failure to
engage with the causes of disabilityprimarily poverty has
undoubtedly had an impact on how the reforms are perceived by
90. The Pathways to Work pilots generated
an 8% point increase in people moving off IB (the DWP is assuming
they moved into work). The DWP calculates that if these results
were replicated nationally, they would result in around 100,000
disabled people moving off IB. This is some distance from the
million disabled people the Government hopes will move off IB.
Although DWP hopes that part of the fall in the number of recipients
will result from fewer people moving onto IB in the first place,
the intention is clearly to get significant numbers of disabled
people into work. This is unlikely to happen without more rigorous
preventative measures being put in place and a reduction in inequality
being put firmly on the political agenda.
91. As discussed above, we think it is still
very early days to evaluate the success of the Pathway Pilots.
More research should be undertaken before additional resourceswhich
may be more effectively directed elsewhereare poured into
what may prove to be a less than effective strategy to move disabled
people out of poverty.
92. Although the Pathways Evaluation was
in many ways very positive about WFI, it actually highlights a
number of real problems with a mandatory system:
CPAG strongly argues that WFI should
be made voluntary. At the very least, the success of a voluntary
programme should be tested since there is no robust research-based
evidence that a compulsory system works better than a voluntary
Although the prospect of returning
to paid employment may be a positive and appropriate prospect
for some people, for others being compelled to attend a WFI when
they do not feel ready to consider paid employment may constitute
an unwarranted increase in stress and anxiety, which may trigger
stress related relapses. It is unacceptable that an extremely
vulnerable client group for whom work is not, and may never be
an option should be compelled to attend a sequence of WFI. Issues
around exemptions must be resolved.
Although the Pathways evaluation
state that attending WFIs "as a condition of benefit receipt
was accepted by most respondents", it reports that "Some
people felt the interviews had been untimely".
The client group who were furthest from the labour market viewed
the WFI "as a way of getting them off benefits and pushing
them into work when they were not thinking of working".
CPAG believes that the Government
should introduce a much more flexible timetable for WFI. Not only
should they be voluntary but the timing of the firstand
subsequenceinterviews should be discussed with IB recipients,
their families, advocates and their medical advisors. Such flexibility
may allay some underlying concerns about the WFI and reassure
the client that their Personal Advisor is well aware of their
particular situation and has their best interests at heart. Personal
advisers must retain the flexibility not to call clients in for
subsequent interviews if they believe their health has deteriorated,
or their family circumstances are such that paid employment is
The way in which people were summoned
to attend a WFI and the language used needs to be reviewed. Some
respondents were alarmed when they wereunexpectedlycalled
for the first WFI by letter or phone and "felt the explanation
of how benefits would be affected by non-attendance was `threatening'.
We recognise that the Government is keen to pre-empt people moving
onto long-term incapacity benefit, and to try and support them
back into work as soon as possible after they have moved onto
IB. However, eight weeks is an extremely short time in which to
cope with the onset of disability, a possibly dramatic decline
in income, a sudden increase in costs, and the stress and strain
that health problems can engender for the whole family.
We are concerned that the process
whereby a Personal Adviser can decide whether to waive or defer
a WFI will inevitably be subjective, and may be flawed. There
is not always agreement about whether somebody is ready and able
to participate in work-focused activities. People who feel that
they are not ready or able to take up employment will get little
or nothing out of participating in a programme which is geared
to helping disabled people access the labour market. Furthermore,
there is little evidence that additional family responsibilities
are an integral part of the assessment process.
Financial incentives to ensure that
"work pays"such as a £40 return to work
credit once somebody gets a jobare welcome. However, the
Pathways Pilot did not indicate whether or not a £40 return
to work credit was deemed to be appropriate or helpful. Although
we welcome this support we have concerns about the Government
subsidising poorly paid employment. What happens when the in-work
credit is removed after 52 weeks of employment? We also have concerns
about the people who are genuinely unable to try out employment
opportunities, and therefore are denied the possibility of increasing
their income with access to the in-work credit.
4. THE EXPERIENCE
4.1 Are people with different disabilities
and health conditions, in both pilot and non-pilot areas, given
appropriate support by Jobcentre Plus? Is there a tendency to
help those perceived as closer to the labour market?
93. The Pathways to Work Pilots were of
greatest assistance to people who were closest to the labour market.
Targeting people who are willing and able to work is the most
effective strategy. Providing support to people who are not currently
in a position to work but feel that they would benefit from some
work-focused activities is also to be welcomed.
94. People who do not feel able or willing
to engage in work-focused activities and are unable to envisage
accessing paid employment should be encouraged, but not compelled,
to participate in the rehabilitation and support services on offer.
95. People begin their claim by visiting
or telephoning the Jobcentre Plus office prior to the WFI. The
Pathways evaluation indicates that, although a Financial Assessor
provides assistance with application forms, some people were disappointed
about the lack of advice about their entitlement to benefits.
"Criticisms were made about the process for claiming benefits.
Administrative error, the pace of proceedings and the size and
"confusing" nature of application forms were all cited
as problems. It was also felt that there was not enough help and
advice in making a claim".
Jobcentre Plus must provide skilled and efficient support that
complements and does not undermine the system.
96. The Pathways Evaluation indicates that
"there was some disappointment at the range of jobs available
in Jobcentre Plus offices and criticisms about the attitudes of
some staff". We are concerned that the proposed staff cut-backs
can only make the situation worse. Putting staff under further
pressure may result in a further deterioration in "attitude"
4.2 How will the reforms help those who
are not able, or not yet ready, to work?
97. As has been discussed throughout this
consultation, people who are not able or not yet ready to work
should participate in the scheme on a voluntary basis. If Personal
Advisers ensure that people have their full benefit entitlement
and access to the support services they need, they may well enable
disabled people who are currently unable to work to access paid
employment in the long term.
5. SUPPORT FOR
5.1 Can the reformed systems support
those with variable and manageable medical conditions, or those
who are able to work part-time? Are those with mental health difficulties
98. The Government is particularly concerned
about high levels of poverty and social exclusion among adults
with mental health problems.
Although people with mental health problems constitute 40% of
all IB recipients, and are the largest group of disabled people,
they are particularly disadvantaged in the workplace. The Social
Exclusion Unit reports that only 21% of people with long-term
mental illness were employedthe lowest of any disabled
99. Given that an increasing number of people
with mental health illness have been moving onto incapacity benefits,
this client group is likely to be targeted by the Government as
part of the Pathways Pilots to move people into work. It is therefore
crucial that the Government takes full account of the evidence
documented by Citizens Advice which identified high levels of
stigma, discrimination and lack of support within the benefit
system for this particular client group.
100. A number of organisations have highlighted
the fact that people with mental health problems and/or fluctuation
health conditions are particularly vulnerable. Far from finding
contact with a Personal Adviser reassuring, people with mental
health problems are very likely to find the prospect of a WFIlet
alone the interview itselfextremely threatening and distressing.
They may well fail to turn up for the interviewand suffer
benefit sanctions which will plunge them further into povertyor
indeed turn up under heavy medication, thereby creating the wrong
impression about their capabilities. Such people may feel so alarmed
at the whole business they may access unsuitable employment in
a bid to avert benefit sanctions. This could result in their condition
worsening, and drive them back onto benefits, where they will
be plunged back into a negative and destructive cycle.
101. Employers value reliability and flexibility,
qualities which are most difficult for people with mental health
problems and people with fluctuating conditions. Medication may
result in fluctuating abilities and attendance rates. People may
need time off for medical appointments. Although they face significant
barriers to employment, these groups will be subject to greatest
level of conditionality, compulsion and sanctions.
5.2 Does the Condition Management Programme
provide the right level of support?
102. We strongly endorse the Government's
belief that "Services should be personalised with a strong
focus on delivering support tailored around individual needs".
103. However, although Pathways to Work
is hailed as an effective piece of "joined-up" thinking
the focus on moving people off benefits and into employment creates
the impression that services are not there for everybody. The
most disadvantaged people, who may be unwilling or unable to consider
moving into the labour market, are unlikely to access services
which appear to be directly focused on achieving just that.
104. Access to high quality services should
be a fundamental right for all disabled people, irrespective of
their work status. We believe that Pathways to Work should work
with the Social Exclusion Unit on their new project Improving
service delivery for disadvantaged adults, which has followed
on from their Breaking the Cycle report which identified
disabled people and people with long-term health conditions and
people with poor basic skills and people from some ethnic minority
groups as being particularly disadvantaged. There is significant
overlap between all three groups.
105. According to the Pathways Evaluation,
while clients who participated in the Condition Management Programme
found it useful, it appears to have been accessed by people who
are closest to the labour market. It would be helpful for this
sort of programmewhich includes one to one sessions with
health practitioners, including therapistscould be provided
to disabled people whether or not they are ready to access employment.
Engagement with such a programme would improve their lives in
the short-term and might result in an improvement in their health
and long-term prospects of employment. People with the most severe
disabilities may derive greatest benefit from such a programme.
6.1 Has Pathways successfully worked
with healthcare professionals, including GPs, particularly in
rehabilitation initiatives such as the Condition Management Programme?
How can healthcare professionals be further engaged in the reform
of the incapacity benefits system?
106. Although we are unable to comment in
detail, we would are concerned that linking medical services directly
with welfare to work initiatives may undermine the trust some
people have in healthcare professionals. It is to be hoped that
GP's independence will not be perceived to be prejudiced, and
health clinics and surgeries avoided for that reason. While Pathways
to Work has undoubtedly benefited from the support, knowledge
and expertise of many healthcare professionals, their close association
with Personal Advisers may cause some anxiety for some disabled
people. It is important that Personal Advisers draw on the trust
and support health professionals engender, rather than health
professionals becoming tainted with the mistrust with which some
IB claimants view Jobcentre staff.
107. The Government must ensure that sufficient
funds and staffing levels are allocated to NHS and additional
medical services, including, where appropriate, alternative preventative
therapies and practices which may pre-empt, resolve and redress
underlying health problems.
7.1 Is Jobcentre Plus sufficiently resourced
to deliver the Pathways pilots, both in terms of staffing and
finances? Are they equipped to deal with a reform programme for
108. IB reform cannot be effectively implemented
without significant additional resources which will ensure the
right decisions are made, and people receive the right kind of
109. We do not believe that successfully
implementing a complex new system is viable when the Department
for Work and Pensions (DWP) has implemented an extensive programme
of staff cuts. Significant resources were directed into the Pathways
to Work Pilots and that level of investment will need to be sustained
if the beneficial aspects are to be maintained.
110. However, providing a similar service
nationally will be extremely costly in terms of personnel and
administration. It may result in significant work-focused energy
and resources being allocated towards people for whom work is
not a realistic option. That money might be better spent on more
preventative strategies, and on providing additional services
and support to people who are too ill or incapacitated to work.
111. We are extremely concerned that insufficient
resources are being allocated to Jobcentre Plus who are experiencing
a significant increase in workload at a time of staff cuts.
Managing the benefits centralisation programme is a considerable
undertaking and there is a real risk of overload. People are already
experiencing significant problems with the Customer Management
System in getting their benefits claims processed and paid.
112. Past experience strongly indicates
that a lack of resources may well lead to more punitive strategies.
Such measures may save money in the short term, in the long term
they are likely to lead to additional social and economic costs.
8. THE ROLE
8.1 Have the private and voluntary sectors
been successfully involved in the Pathways pilots? How can they
be further involved in the reform of incapacity benefits?
113. CPAG believes that the voluntary sector
it is too small, fragile and fragmented to play the central part
in the delivery strategy. Although more sustained funding of voluntary
sector providers would certainly help, it is important that Jobcentre
Plus recognises the sector's current limitations, and the need
for it to give strategic support to the sector to enable it to
9. LOCAL LABOUR
9.1 What type of jobs are participants
of Pathways moving into? Are they receiving appropriate in-work
support to enhance job retention?
114. Burchardt confirms that "Most
factors which were associated with the increased risk of leaving
employment within a year of onset of sickness or disability were
also associated with increased risk of leaving employment in general
including low human capital (lack of educational qualifications,
short job tenure) and poor employment protection (small workplace,
female gender or part-time employment, manufacturing or construction
It is important that the reasons for people becoming disabled
and/or leaving work in the first place are not replicated when
they are encouraged to return to paid employment. Moving young
people and adults who have low educational qualifications into
low paid employment is not an appropriate way of dealing with
a very vulnerable client group. The Evaluation of Pathways clear
reveals the need to monitor the type and sustainability of jobs
people are accessing via the Pathways pilots.
9.2 Are local labour markets able to
provide the jobs needed?
115. Although all poor people do not live
in poor areas, many disabled people will live in areas with depressed
labour markets. People who live in such areas will face particular
barriers to employmentincluding higher levels of depression
and ill health. Pathways needs to recognise the particular needs
of disabled people in deprived areas where there are few opportunities
for long-term, stable and sustainable jobs. Travelling to work
is much more difficult for disabled people, particularly if they
have children and have to drop them off at school or the childminder
first. Compulsion and sanctions will not resolve these sort of
9.3 What is the experience of employers?
116. Employers are being encouraged to provide
appropriate work environments and to design jobs that can properly
accommodate disabled people in the workplace, thereby avoiding
people having to give up work when they become sick or disabled.
The Access to Work scheme plays an important role in reassuring
employers that support is available to enable them to make appropriate
workplace adaptations and provide the necessary support to enable
sick or disabled people to access, or retain, employment. Improving
publicity and funding for this scheme is needed to complement
other initiatives, such as Condition Management Programmes and
rehabilitation. We welcome the DWP's recognition of the crucial
role employers play in helping people to retainor to accesspaid
employment and the fact that they will be the main beneficiaries
of such a strategy.
124 G Preston (Editor) At Greatest Risk: the children
most likely to be poor (CPAG, 2005). Back
For further information see Tania Burchardt, The Evolution
of Disability Benefits in the UK: Re-weighting the basket (CASEpaper
26, June 1999) and T Burchardt, Being and becoming: Social
exclusion and the onset of disability (CASEreport 21 November
2003) pp 48-50. Back
DWP, Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disability Allowance quarterly
summary of statistics, February 2005. Back
A Corden, K Nice and R Sainsbury, Incapacity Benefit Reforms
Pilot: Findings from a longitudinal panel of clients (a research
report carried out by the Social Policy Research Unit at the University
of York on behalf of the DWP, (DWP, Research Report No 259, 2005). Back
DWP, Pathways to Work: Helping people into employment, (DWP,
November 2002), p 30. Back
Jane Kennedy MP, paper given to the Social Market Foundation
Seminar, 14 December 2004, "Incapacity benefits and steps
towards reform". Back
T Burchardt, Being and becoming: Social exclusion and the
onset of disability (CASEreport 21, November 2003) p 35. Back
Tania Burchardt and Asghar Zaidi calculate that "The fully
adjusted figures indicate that the "true" poverty rate
among disabled people (based on 1996-97 data) is 61% or three
in every five people." See "Poverty and disability"
in Disability Rights Bulletin, summer 2003 in which they discuss
Comparing incomes when needs differ: equivalisation for the extra
costs of disability (CASEpaper 64, 2003). Back
DWP, Opportunity for all: fifth annual report (DWP, 2003) p
T Burchardt, Being and becoming, p 42. Back
Households Below Average Income (HBAI), 1994-95 to 2003-04 (DWP,
H Stickland and R Olsen, "Children with disabled parents"
in At Greatest Risk, p 145. Back
Opportunity for all: Fifth Annual Report, 2003 p 116. Back
Cabinet Officer, Prime Minister"s Strategy Unit, Improving
the Life Chances of Disabled People (a joint report with DWP,
Department of Health, Department for Education and Skills, Office
of the Deputy Prime Minister, January 2005). Back
TUC, Sicknote Britain? Countering an urban legend (TUC
Economic and Social Affairs), p 18. Back
Opportunity for all, p 124. Back
See, for example, Z Asghar and T Burchardt, Comparing incomes
when needs differ: Equivalisation for the extra costs of disability
(CASEpaper 64, 2003), J Martin and A White The financial
circumstances of disabled adults living in private households,
HMSO, 1988, A Matthews and P Truscott, Disability, household
income and expenditure, (Department of Social Security Research
Paper No 2, HMSO, 1988) and R Berthoud, J Lakey and S McKay, The
economic problems of disabled people (Policy Studies Institute,
S Middleton, K Ashton-Brooks, L Cox, B Dobston with L Reith
Disabled people"s cost of living: more than you would
think? (published by the Policy Press for the Joseph Rowntree
Foundation, 2004). Back
T Burchardt, Being and Becoming, p 49. Back
H Stickland and R Olsen, At Greatest Risk, p 144. Back
See, for example, H Barnes and S Baldwin "Social security,
poverty and disability" in John Ditch ed. Introduction to
Social Security, Routledge, London, 1999, pp 156-176. Back
See T Burchardt, The Evolution of Disability Benefits in the
UK: Re-weighting the basket, (CASEpaper 26, 1999) p 8. Back
Opportunity for all, p 106. Back
See K Roberts, D Lawton. Reaching its target? Disability
living allowance for children (Social Policy Report No 9,
Social Policy Research Unit, University of York, 1999) and R Chamba,
W Adham, M Hirst, Michael, Dawton, Dot, B Beresford. On the
edge: Minority ethnic families caring for a severely disabled
child (Policy Press, May 1999). Back
One Parent Families, Meeting the Target: How can the Government
achieve a 70 per cent employment rate for lone parents? Part 1:
The role of conditionality (One Parent Families, 2005) p 6. Back
See, "Wealth brings 17 more years of health" John
Carvel in The Guardian, Friday 25 2005. Discussing findings
from a recent report from the Office for National Statistics,
the Guardian reports a poorer man"s healthy life expectancy
was only 49.4 years, nearly 17 years less than the man from the
prosperous ward, and female"s healthy life expectancy is
51.7 in deprived wards and 68.5 years in the most prosperous wards. Back
T Burchardt, Being and becoming, p 1. Back
T Burchardt, Being and Becoming, p 22-23. Back
S Jenkins and J Rigg, Disability and disadvantage: Selection,
onset and duration effects (CASEpaper74, November 2003), p
See P Toynbee, "Inequality kills" in The Guardian,
30 July 2005. Reviewing Professor Richard Wilkinson"s book
The impact of inequality: how to make sick societies healthier
(Routledge, London, 2005) she comments "social status
and respect matter beyond anything, and the psychological damage
done by being at the bottom is crippling.". Back
Stickland and Olsen, At Greatest Risk, pp 142, 142. Back
See T Burchardt, Being and Becoming, p 24. Back
Department of Health, Choosing Health White Paper (2004). Back
C Mackay et al, "Management Standards' and Work
Related Stress in the UK: policy background and science"
in Work and Stress, vol 18, no 2 pp 91-112, 2004. Back
Department of Health, Choosing Health. Back
T Burchard, Being and Becoming, p 64. Back
Improving the life chances of disabled people, p 25. Back
Jenkins and Rigg, Disability and Disadvantage, p 11. Back
HBAI, 2003-04. Back
See H Stickland and R Olsen in At Greatest Risk, pp 135,
136, 138. Back
One Parent Families, Meeting the Target. Back
HBAI, 2003-04. Back
H Stickland and R Olsen, At Greatest Risk, p 138. Back
See DWP Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance
Quarterly Summary Statistics, February 2005. Back
Although this number has increased from 657,000 in February
2003 the DWP comments that because of the inclusion of CTC "Great
care should be taken when making comparisons with previous years
(especially numbers of children in families where non-income related
benefits are in payment)". See Group Analysis, Quarterly
bulletin on families with children on key benefits February 2005. Back
P Dornan "Working a way out of poverty?" in At
Greatest Risk, p 33. Back
Opportunity for all, p 104. Back
Pre Budget Report, 2004 (p 77 para 4.19). Back
See, for example S Abbott and L Hobby What is the
impact on individual health of services in primary health care
settings with offer welfare benefit advice? (Health and Community
Care Research Unit, 2003). Back
Words used by the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in a speech in
Budapest and reported by the BBC, Benefits cuts "to boost
pensions", http://news.bbc.co.uk, 15 February 2004. Back
"Johnson announces summer green paper to reform incapacity
benefit as radical `pathways' pilots get 10,000 off IB in a year"
DWP press release, 15 March 2005. Back
"Switch off the TV and get on your bike Blunkett tells
long-term sick" reported in The Guardian, 10 October
See DWP Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance
Quarterly Summary Statistics, February 2005. Back
See DWP Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance
Quarterly Summary Statistics, February 2005. Back
See DWP Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance
Quarterly Summary Statistics, February 2005. Back
TUC, Countering an urban legend: Sicknote Britain (TUC,
Economic and Social Affairs, January 2005), p 14. Back
D Piachaud, "Child poverty: an overview" in At
Greatest Risk, p 17. Back
See, for example, A Wilkins "TANF and Disabled Parents"
in Welfare Reform, National Conference of State Legislatures
which discusses the Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF)
in the US, where "time limit and work requirement provisions
prompted a shift from an on going cash assistance system to one
focused on moving parents into permanent jobs". A time limit
has been imposed on the amount of time welfare recipients can
receive cash assistance. Although there are some exemptions, these
are restricted and are usually aimed at people with temporary
disabilities. "Those recipients who have not received an
exemption are likely to encounter great difficulties complying
with the program work requirements. These individuals are at risk
of sanction or may exhaust their lifetime limit on receipt of
cash assistance, without having security steady employment of
income." Many TANF recipients experience a health problem
severe enough to prevent them from working but not severe enough
to qualify for SSI (Supplementary Security Income).' This client
group-many of whom are lone parents with mental health problems
or learning disabilities-is experiencing high levels of poverty
in the US. Back
DWP, Five Year Strategy: Opportunity and security throughout
life (February 2005) p 49. Back
HBAI, 2003-04. Back
R Berthoud, The profile of exits from incapacity-related benefits
over time, Working paper 17, Department for Work and Pensions,
Opportunity for all (2003), p 119. Back
DWP, Five Year Strategy, p 49. Back
The TUC reports that in 2001 the DWP published the results of
a survey of people who moved from IB to JSA. Of all disabled and
non-disabled people, 28% were still claiming JSA a year later.
But for people who moved there from IB, the figure was 45%. See
Sicknote Britain? p 18. Back
See Citizens Advice, Out of the picture: CAB evidence
on mental health and social exclusion, (CAB, April 2004). Back
It is not known how many people who are entitled to incapacity
benefits such as DLA do not receive them. However, P Craig, M
Greenslade First Findings from the Disability Follow-up to
the Family Resources Survey (DSS, Social Research Branch,
March 1998) calculated that take up of DLA was between 40% and
See Jenkins and Rigg, Disability and Disadvantage,
"Individuals who experienced onset were also less likely
to be in paid work", p 8. Back
See P Hunter, "Medical assessments and benefit errors"
Disability Rights Bulletin, summer 2004, p 23-24. Back
DWP Quarterly Statistics: Appeals: Hearing outcomes by type
of attendance and benefit in the quarter ending December 2005
indicate that 38.9% of appeals are successful for IB (not PCA)
and 54.9% are successful for IB (PCA). Back
K Stanley and S Regan, The Missing Millions: supporting disabled
people into work (IPPR, 2003). Back
DWP Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance Quarterly
Summary Statistics, February 2005. Back
Stickland and Olsen, At Greatest Risk, p 145. Back
Pathways evaluation, p 3. Back
Improving life chances for disabled people, p 25. Back
Pathways evaluation, pp 4, 62, 73. Back
H Stickland and R Olsen, At Greatest Risk, pp 144, 145. Back
Stickland and Olsen, At Greatest Risk, p145. Back
Pathways evaluation, pp 20, 70. Back
J Kennedy, Social Market Foundation seminar, 14 December
TUC, Sicknote Britain, p 16. Back
DWP Opportunity for all: fifth annual report, p 124. Back
Pathways evaluation, p 2. Back
Pathways evaluation, p 69. Back
Pathways evaluation, p 20. Back
Pathways evaluation, p 18. Back
Pathways evaluation, p 16. Back
Pathways evaluation, p 16. Back
Pathways evaluation, p 3. Back
Social Exclusion Unit (SEU), Mental Health and Social
Exclusion, (ODPM, 2004). Back
SEU, Mental Health and Social Exclusion. Back
CAB, Out of the picture: CAB evidence on mental health and
social exclusion (CAB, 2004). Back
Improving life chances, p 132. Back
See One Parent Families, Meeting the Target. Back
T Burchardt, Being and becoming, p 37. Back