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New measures designed to shrink the ‘disability employment gap’

Iain Duncan Smith "We need to be relentless in our efforts to get more people into work and off welfare"

Up to one million more disabled people are to be forced back to work as a result of a “relentless” Tory benefits shake-up.

On Monday Iain Duncan Smith, the Works and Pensions Secretary, will announce new measures designed to shrink the ‘disability employment gap’ – the difference between the employment rate for people with disabilities and those without.

The measures will include changes to Employment and Support Allowance and sickness benefit assessments – leading to the removal of benefits from many people who will then be expected to work.

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Citing other Government reforms which he claims have led to the number of workless households hitting a record low, Duncan Smith is expected to say:

“Work can help keep people healthy as well as help promote recovery if someone falls ill. So, it is right that we look at how the system supports people who are sick and helps them into work.

“But we must not stop there. We need to be relentless in our efforts to get more people into work and off welfare. The number of disabled people working has risen by 350,000 over the past two years – the highest on record. Yet, even though we have got more disabled people into work, that is only the beginning.”

There will also be new changes to the Fit For Work Service and to how claimants access mental health advice – all of which is expected to lead to a chorus of disapproval from disability campaigners, who claim they are being targeted as part of the £12bn in welfare cuts.

The announcement comes just a week after a Welfare Weekly Freedom of Information request revealed that the Department of Work and Pensions had used made-up stories on their literature to show the impact of the benefit sanctions positively.

A DWP spokesman declined to discuss the figures in Duncan Smith’s speech or release further details.

A spokesman said:

“This isn’t a policy announcement; it’s the start of a conversation.”

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