Why 500,000 people claiming incapacity benefits cannot ‘start work right away’
Today Iain Duncan Smith has reportedly said that ‘about 500,000 living on sickness benefit could go straight into a job’. Let’s leave aside how employable these people are (remembering that while many disabled people are employed in the UK, disabled people with a history of claiming out of work benefits, with low skills and limited recent labour market experience are likely to find it more difficult than your average jobseeker to find work) and look at the labour market facts: there are only 467,000 vacancies nationally, and there are already 2,500,000 unemployed people chasing them.
In addition, areas where incapacity benefit claimants are concentrated (for example central Wales and Glasgow) have already got higher than average unemployment rates. Combine this with the fact that there is currently no effective dedicated programme in place to support disabled people into work and the chance that 500,000 disabled people have of moving into jobs becomes clear – extremely low.