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Incapacity Benefit Reform

The local, regional and national impact

The incapacity benefit reforms that are underway are poised to hit Britain. Their impact has so far barely been felt but over the next two to three years the reforms will hit hard and in rapidsuccession.

The reform of incapacity benefits matters because it affects so many people. In total, nearly 2.6m men and women of working age are out-of-work on incapacity benefits. This far exceeds the 1.5m out-of-work on Jobseeker’s Allowance in late 2011, even in the wake of recession. Furthermore, incapacity benefit claimants are far from evenly spread around the country. In Britain’s older industrial areas, in particular, the share of adults of working age claiming incapacity benefits often exceeds 10 per cent. By contrast, in large parts of southern England the claimant rate is far lower, typically 2-4 per cent. What this means is that the incapacity benefit reforms are poised to have a far greater impact in some areas than others, and it is Britain’s most disadvantaged communities that will often be hit hardest.

But just how many men and women will lose their entitlement to incapacity benefits? How many will be pushed onto Jobseeker’s Allowance instead? And how many will be pushed right out of the benefits system altogether?