A top government minister has defended claims that the assessments put in place to get people on benefits back to work were financially motivated, saying they are “not a financially-based exercise.”
Chris Grayling, Work and Pensions minister, said that the intention of the assessments was to identify those who are suitable to work, and to get them back in employment.
There are currently 2.6million people on incapacity benefit, or it’s successor, the employment and support allowance (ESA) and the government plan on reassessing every person on the scheme by 2014.
Charities has criticised the move, claiming that the government are trying to save money.
The assessments will determine whether each applicant is entitled to continue receiving the highest rate of ESA, and those who are not deemed unable to work because of sickness or disability will be put on jobseekers allowance again, and will be considered “fit for work.”
The test was introduced by the last Labour government, and has been rolled out by the coalition, will have a third category called the “work related activity group” where workers join a group to prepare themselves for work in the medium to long term.
Grayling admitted that the assessments were going to be potentially “quite difficult” and a “life changing experience” for some people who are currently on benefits.
Grayling was speaking to the House of Commons when he went on to add, “[It is] a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform people’s lives for the better.”
Six charities this year have already attacked the plans, claiming that the assessments are merely declaring sick people fit for work.
The MS Society and Parkinson’s UK were amongst the charities who attacked the plans.
The charity Mind claimed earlier this month that the changes were causing many people “huge” distress and had resulted in suicides.